Have you noticed that all the really successful online retailers offer free delivery?

Have you noticed that all the really successful online retailers offer free delivery?

By: Peter Wagner

Amazon sets the bar high with Amazon Prime two-day delivery of everything from A to Z. Their product inventory includes everything from a difficult-to-find book to necessary groceries for dinner that night.
Target has purchased a start-up delivery firm, Shipt, that recruits part-time workers to pull and fill a customer’s order from shelves in the store and then deliver the items to the customer’s home or business in their personal vehicle.

Want a new car? According to the television ads, there’s no need to deal with a “pushy” dealership salesperson anymore. Carvana will process your new car or truck order over the phone or online. Within days a Carvana truck will deliver the exact brand, model, color and accessory package you want right to your door. They’ll even offer a no obligation seven days to test the vehicle before you buy. Plus, they’ll be happy to take your used car or truck in trade and pick it up when they deliver your new vehicle.

Women’s fashion centers go one step further. Nordstrom and other leading national retailers even enclose a pre-paid FedEx label so the customer can easily return the item if it doesn’t fit or otherwise “just isn’t right.”

Here in Sheldon, IA, where we have our newspaper office, I have a shoe store owner who claims he’s making more money selling shoes on the internet than in his main street brick and mortar store. The UPS truck stops every day to pick up two dozen or more pair of shoes to be delivered to buyers all over the country.  Finally, there are a growing number of women’s boutiques popping up all over the country. Most are working to build a mail-order business with their products delivered by UPS or Fed-Ex to the customer’s home rather than sold out of a traditional showroom.

 Delivery to the home has always been a key part of our newspaper and shopper story. Local
papers were delivering wonderfully designed ads promoting what was available to buy long before there was an internet. Paid circulation or free distribution, the local paper delivered all the important information local buyers needed to make wise and easy buying decisions.

Community papers have always been the preferred means of learning the local news and business specials. The depth of coverage and design of the hometown paper has changed over the last 50 years, but the message has always been local. That local connection is the reason smaller community publications have thrived while many larger metro publications, with their attention to national and statehouse coverage, have declined.
I have a difficult time understanding why so many local businesses choose to advertise on the internet rather than in their hometown paper. Those small community stores and service firms simply can’t compete online with the larger national firms favored by Google’s marketing experts and analytical expertise.

Take the community automobile dealership for example. There is no way that traditionally family-owned dealership is going to have Google analytics place their message higher than the giant- inventory metro dealer down the road.

Community newspapers and shoppers offer a huge advantage to local new and used car dealerships. For one, and perhaps the most important reason, larger metro competitors aren’t overpowering the local dealer’s message with bigger display ads listing hundreds of vehicles at lower prices. Smaller local dealers can be easily overlooked when placing their deals online.

Here are more reasons the dealer should put his ads first in the hometown paper:

  • The local printed advertisement is delivered right to the subscriber’s front door where the family has a healthy respect for the paper’s credibility. Many online sites lack that credibility.
  • The printed paper still reaches more potential buyers within the dealer’s sales and service area than any other form of electronic media.
  • The hometown paper is desired and looked for by the immediate area car-buyer who knows and appreciates the no pressure, easy-to-understand deal the dealer offers every customer.
  • Because the dealership is close by, often right in town, it is ready and able to provide quick service whenever it is needed.


Studies have shown that 75 percent of any businesses sales are to customers within 25 miles of the front door. Our smaller community auto dealerships exist because most of the dealership’s customers don’t want to drive 60 to 100 miles whenever they need to have something serviced on their car or truck. It seems ridiculous that community dealerships prefer to advertise on the world-wide web when their most important prospects are the ones reading the local paper.

Local print salespeople need to learn to clearly tell their unique and specific story. If they want to sell more print advertising, sales consultants must be coached and regularly reminded to share their paper’s benefits, value and stories about how their publication can deliver results and increased sales. Print advertising salespeople need to tell ad buyers over and over again why their printed paper, delivered right into the home of the local family can truly deliver sales and success for them.

They need to explain the demographics and depth of their readership, the paper’s impact on local buying decisions, the reach of both their paper and website, the creative ability of their ad designers and an endless list of success stores from other local businesses.

Advertising sales people too often turn away from conflict and fail to stand up for their product. Those same salespeople often fail to make any effort to get to know the advertiser and the advertiser’s business. Too often, they fail to bring the advertiser exciting new promotion and advertising ideas. Worst of all, they sell one-time ads instead of long-term advertising programs.

Local print advertising can out-perform online ads every time. But the publication’s sales team needs to make it happen by becoming salespeople instead of simply order takers.