Having recently seen a whole swathe of newspaper colleagues lose their jobs, it’s obvious that the internet has changed everything – including the rules around marketing.
Gone are the days when paying for an ad in the local paper would be enough to keep a supply of customers coming to your business. Circulation has dropped drastically, and not a single regional daily newspaper has escaped the trend. At the time of writing, all the national dailies, apart from The Times and the Daily Star, were also losing sales.
My local dailies, the Eastern Daily Press and the Norwich Evening News haven’t escaped the downward trend. The print circulation of the EDP (2016) now stands at 36,605, down 8.1% on 2015, in a circulation area of 877,700. Norwich Evening News has a circulation of 9,680, down year on year also by 8.1%, with a circulation area of 213,166 (census figures 2011).
Media publishers face marketing dilemma as circulations fall
Falling circulation makes the print product less appealing to advertisers. Publishers who continue to depend on ‘outbound’ marketing strategies are fighting against the tide.
The big dilemma is as follows: circulation is falling, so publishers have to make cuts in staff; having fewer journalists and photographers on staff leads to an inferior product. The reader notices the declining number of hard news stories, more mistakes, and poorer quality pictures. As a result, they cancel their subscription or only buy the paper occasionally.
Add to this the constantly updated news stream coming from the internet, Twitter or other social media platforms, and people have even less reason to buy a newspaper. So, as circulation falls further, advertising revenue suffers, more corners are cut, more experienced staff are let go and circulation drops again. And so it goes on.
Outbound versus Inbound – a marketing shake-up
The old outbound marketing system of buying print, TV or radio ads, email lists, cold-calling, trade shows, conferences and hoping for leads is losing ground in a digital world. It’s a scattergun approach and not that reliable in building a tribe of loyal customers.
The other disadvantage of this method is that it’s high cost without a guaranteed yield. You pay up front and hope customers will buy from you. Return on investment is much harder to measure.
Inbound marketing, however, has been on the rise since 2006, and has proved to be an effective and measurable way of doing business online.
And the rise of inbound marketing coincides exactly with Archant Norfolk’s program of cutting staff from the marketing, editing and photographic departments over the past 10 years or so. The company – along with many others in the same boat – reacts to declining sales figures by cutting staff.
This big conundrum for established publishing companies, such as Archant, still is: “How do we make the internet pay?” “How do we get businesses to advertise with us?”
Inbound – a more reliable way to track customer preferences
There is an answer. As more powerful technologies are being released, it’s becoming easier to track customer preferences and tastes – to build up a database of buyer personas, or case studies. This information can then be used to form campaigns to help businesses target prospective clients.
Marketing and sales software companies such as Hubspot can cite many studies showing that inbound marketing attracts more customers and saves money – yet some businesses are slow to catch on.
Maybe it’s a mistrust of the internet or lack of understanding about what inbound marketing actually does that’s at the root of this resistance. But ignore the changes at your peril!
We now have the power to block anything we don’t want to see. Most of us use one of the following: AdBlock; spam filters; a telephone preference service to block unwanted calls; ad-free TV subscription services, such as Netflix; pre-recording TV programmes to fast-forward through the ads.
One thing is sure, the old ways of marketing face an uphill struggle.
Good content helps to turn visitors into customers
So how does inbound marketing work? It uses the power of attraction to bring them to you. Like a magnet, inbound uses techniques that naturally draw prospective customers to your website – and keeps them there.
Inbound takes an empathetic approach to marketing. This is especially helpful for small businesses because they usually have an interesting personal story to tell – something that big businesses are so desperate to emulate.
So how does it work? In a nutshell, inbound relies on three pillars to draw customers to your website: good content (blog), social media marketing and search engine optimisation.
And those customers will not just be any old customer; they want to be there, they are drawn to your product or service. Good content makes the sales and marketing process more human. It helps to reinforce your brand and treats people as individuals rather than numbers on a spreadsheet.
And once you’ve got them there, you can continue to connect with these people, who in turn will go on to be your best promoters. Even if they don’t want what you are selling, they may know someone who does. A new referral is born.
This type of marketing doesn’t need a big budget but it does need your time and commitment. The results should speak for themselves.
If you would like to start a business blog but don’t know where to begin, please take a look at the services offered here Business Blogging and Content Writing
For more information about Inbound Marketing, Hubspot is a great place to start, visit Hubspot’s Marketing Blog
Image: Roman Kraft