Newspaper Ad Execs Aren't Evil

Remember how I said I wasn’t a salesperson? Well, it just doesn’t get more salespersony than the gig that kept me away from focusing on my business this last month. The dreaded newspaper ad executive job. You know that person. The one everybody cringes at parties when they see, because their goal is to sell you something you will insist to yourself that you don’t need.

Let’s face it, newspaper is dead, print is dead, you say. People don’t read stuff on paper anymore. If you want to reach the masses, you’ve got to go to where the masses are, and you know where they aren’t. They aren’t buried in their newspaper at home at the kitchen table, next to their spouse, who is buried in a different section of the same paper. The quintessential 1970’s couple. A scene in at least a hundred movies between the years 1950 and 2000.

I throw those numbers around not simply to bore you. There is a reason I mention them. Many assume print is dead, but you know who is not dead (at least yet)? People who were born between 1950 and 2000. These people still remember the wonderful feeling of holding a paper up to their face and scanning it for interesting stories.

Almost always local stories. Some state and national, but mostly local. Who broke into the Parker’s barn the other night? Whose property was that huge grass fire on? And so on and so on. Humans are naturally nosey, and they need to stay informed about what their neighbors are up to. These people are sitting in their pajamas and robes at their kitchen tables, or maybe in a suit and tie at a coffee shop, right now, reading the newspaper.

This is what a newspaper represents. Sure, people want to know what’s going on in the world outside their bubble, but too much information can be overload. Most people have but a half hour a day to get their news before going off to do life. A newspaper is an awesome way to quickly scan what’s going on in your bubble.

How many of you have been scanning the obituaries to see who has left your bubble and glanced over and saw the birth announcements? Next to them is an ad for a baby’s clothing store. Did you know that store existed? Did you care? Well, you care now, because your eyes have moved to the ad. It’s a colorful, fun ad, with pastel colors.

Look, they are offering 20% off until Saturday. It’s Friday. You remember your niece is having a baby shower in a couple of weeks. Wow, this ad was a great reminder that you need to get a present. You were going to cop out and buy her something at that big box store the next time you went to town to buy toilet paper. But this store, it’s just a little local store. Your niece would sure think more highly of your present if she knew you were thoughtful enough to shop in a specialty store and get her something truly personal. And double wow, 20% off. Guess where you spend your lunch hour.

This is how it works, people. Your decision to not invest in advertising is keeping people from finding you, and if they can’t find you, they can’t buy from you. If you want to have the attention of the locals, the people who count, (it’s much more likely a person will drive 5 miles to go to your store than they will 100 miles), then you must invest in local advertising. And your local newspaper is about as local as you are going to get.

But you have to understand something. Let’s say you hear a song on the radio, and at first you’re not sure you like it. But then they play that song three times a day every day on the radio station you listen to. You cry of the annoyance of it. That song, again? But admit it, every time you hear the song, it starts to grow on you more and more. The next thing you know, you’re singing along to it. You’re humming it while folding laundry, you sometimes even wake up in the morning with it in your head and can’t get rid of it the rest of the day.

This is how an ad works. Putting one ad in the paper isn’t going to get you very far. People need to see your ad over and over and over before they remember your name, before they remember your product or service, before they decide they are interested in buying your product or using your service, and before they start telling their friends about your product or service.

Yes, you can get your news online, on the go, anytime, just by touching a button on your phone or tablet. You can even get some of your local newspaper’s news right on their website (every newspaper has a website, which I find quite counter-intuitive.) So why is it better to read the newspaper?

Ever notice that you will go to a website to research an item, and the next thing you know, every other website you go to, the ads are for that item? Don’t you find that a little intrusive? Like the big boys in Silicon Valley are in your brain. They now know what you’re thinking, because they’re tracking you. Every page you go to get your news is plastered with ads for this item. Even the news pages you view, this ad, everywhere. Does that make you want to buy the ad more? Probably not.

This is different than the previously mentioned repeat exposure in the newspaper in that you have to look at the ad whether you want to or not. The web ad appears to you as a popup, or an animated GIF. You can’t ignore it, it's in your way, or it's moving. You’re not happy that people would think you want to buy it, especially if the item you were researching turned out to be something you’d never dream of buying.

Then there’s newspaper. The ads are next to the articles, unobtrusive, just sitting there, waiting for you to view them. If you choose not to, then don’t look at them. But you know what? Even if you do look at them, they bring you more of a comfort than a feeling of intrusion, because these ads are for people in your bubble. They represent you, unlike the ad for the item that is made in China and will have to ship from a cargo container in California via a mail order giant that you have recently heard treats its employees like crap.

It is my strong opinion that everybody should support their community, whether that be your neighborhood, town, county, state, or region. If you want to make your surroundings better, you have to support those surroundings. Reading the newspaper is a great way to do that, and advertising in the local paper will ultimately get you the local business you are craving.

So, stop cringing every time you see the newspaper ad exec coming your way. Embrace them. But it won’t be me. I quit the job, not because I wasn’t good at sales, I just realized that face to face sales are not for me. I am a digital marketer. I can build an amazing website, blog post, social media post, or email for you, but I’m not interested in being that cringe inducing person at parties.

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