Best Practices for Promoting Subscriptions

Emailed on February 2009

As financial conditions continue to be a challenge, the pressure is on all of us to make improvements to the bottom line.   One way to make improvements to the bottom line are rate increases.  However, we realize many of you have been reluctant to increase rates, so at the very least we need to be sure to capture the full price of as many of our subscriptions as possible. 

Often, a lower-discount (10%) introductory price can bring in the same results as a larger-discount offer (50%), so why throw money away?  During the course of a year, gaining full price subscriptions over discounted ones can mean significant differences in circulation revenue.  Circulation revenue for LCNI was flat for 2008.  So, we need to focus on getting that number up. 

You can use others means to promote subscriptions without discounting on cost.  We are continuing to ask all operations to think about the rates you are promoting in discounted efforts and determine if they make sense for your operations.   All operations can provide "value added", instead of discounts.  A "FREE" reader classified is great to offer with the purchase of a subscription.  This gives the subscriber something, while also helping build our reader classified lineage.  KY operations can work with the KY Classified Network to make this happen.  You can also promote a 9-month subscription, compare the price to single copy cost (if applicable at your location), promote the cost savings for coupons in your newspaper, etc. 

All of us need to work harder and smarter.  We don't need discounts to sell our products.  Newspapers will be around for a long time to come, and we have great products to offer our readers and subscribers.  We put out a local product filled with names and faces of folks from our local communities.  You have a huge advantage in this area over other media.  No one does it better than we do!  And, no one else can provide what we do!   Emphasizing the localness of your newspaper and promoting the local sports, editorial page content, advertisements, etc. is the greatest promotion you can do. 

Attached is the guideline you should use when promoting discounted rates for your in county subscriptions.  The rates in black are current rates of most of our newspapers.  The rates in red are the lowest discounted rates you should be using in promotional material.   We should not be giving away a great product.  It's worth the cost we are asking!  For those of you who must charge sales tax, the red rates are gross rates with the tax already included. 

Some of you may not see your rates listed. That's because your rates are very close to another rate box, we've used.  So, please adjust your rates accordingly.  Please do not deviate from this guidance until you chat with me.  I continue to see discounted promotions that I do not understand and excessive/unintentional discounting must stop in this severe recession.   

A few things you should not do:

We should never offer discounted renewals.  In extremely rare cases, if a loyal subscriber brings in an offer, or simply can't afford the regular price and you are going to lose the subscription, this could be an exception. 

Also, don't ever run discounted offers inside your newspaper for your regular subscribers to see.  All discounted promotional offers should be run as a single copy insert, as a direct mail piece to non-subscribers, or as an advertisement in your TMC/shopper, to non-subscribers, etc. 

Don't discount out-of-area and out-of-state subscriptions.  These subscriptions are more costly than in-county subscriptions and we need to pay our mailing cost for delivery of these papers.  Also, while all paid circulation numbers are important to us, these numbers are not as important to us (or our advertisers) as in-county numbers. 

Thank you for your efforts in growing circulation.  This is a critical part of the company's success.  If you have any questions about the attached "Circulation Promotion Discount Pricing" or need help with promotional ideas, please feel free to give me a call at 502.513.1146, or email me at khogan@lcni.com.