Magazine article Editor & Publisher

10 Right: The Times, Ottowa, Ill

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

10 Right: The Times, Ottowa, Ill

Article excerpt

Starting a newspaper subscriber loyalty program is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, that's often as much brain power as many papers invest in creating and operating the program. Loyalty programs are ubiquitous among newspapers, and they are also nearly universally ignored by subscribers -- many of whom don't even realize their paper is offering any benefit for being a good customer.

But when John A. Newby was circulation director at The Dispatch in Moline, one of the Quad Cities on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, he came away from a Newspaper Next session with a brainstorm for a retention program that not only rewards loyal subscribers, but also attracts many advertisers who would not otherwise advertise in the paper.

Launched in the winter of 2007, DeliveringQC offers easily understood loyalty rewards: coupons from local merchants available only to subscribers. It also, through a feature called Value Vault, lets non-subscribers in on the action by allowing anyone to buy gift certificates from those local businesses at a deep discount. The newspapers pocket the payments from users.

What's in it for the merchants? A chance to advertise and get business without laying out any cash because they pay for the program with gift certificates, and they're not out anything until a customer walks in the store -- a customer as likely as not to spend more than the face value of their certificate.

Now Newby is publisher of another Small Newspaper Group daily, The Times, a 15,000-circulation evening daily in Ottawa, Ill., and he's pumping up revenue with a philosophy of finding money outside of print -- and even online. …

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