Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fleets of subs sent to rescue sinking flagships

Peter Preston writes about subscriptions:

Let's be clear why it makes sense. First, because subscriptions tell papers the names and living patterns of the people who read them (a vital selling and future marketing point which cash pushed across a retail counter doesn't deliver). Second, because the real curse of daily newspaper life isn't the abandonment of print for the internet in any simplistic way, but the fact that, amid busy lives and straitened circumstances, regular purchasing continues to slide. Subscriptions underpin regular purchase. Their time has definitively come, offering between 25% and 35% off, a real long-term help through the crunch.

In some European countries, subscriptions account for more than 90% of all purchases. Home delivery works brilliantly, often courtesy of your local postman, if you're living in a town or city where there's only one paper.

That's mostly the US condition, too, where a boy on a bike still throws the Baltimore Sun on the front lawn every morning while newsstands in deserted city centres grow ever more difficult to find. If the subscriber is locked in, he's much less likely to switch or defect: and his details are on the computer as well.

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