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There are at least 25 ways to improve your print product

Here are three of them

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When publishers lift their heads up from their tablets and smartphone screens, they should realize that there’s not just life left in the print newspaper business model—there are opportunities to optimize print, thereby optimizing revenue.

The Inlander over the next few issues will be showcasing these ways by publishing a series of suggestions taken from “25 More Ways to Improve Your Print Products in 2017.” We may even from time to time slip in some tips that came from “25 More Ways to Improve Your Print Products in 2016.”

Both white papers were created by the SLP Print Solutions Team of Southern Lithoplate Inc., Creative Circle Media Solutions, Presteligence and MW Stange LLC.

This issue’s installment touches on press tests, print ads and puzzles.

Run a press test

When was the last time you ran a real press test?

It should be a regular occurrence. It can improve not only the quality of your printing but also open up opportunities to discuss quality control, design, color selection, typography and more. Basically, a whole bunch of things we almost never discuss or pay attention to!

Things change in production environments – new plates, processors, staffers, or inks can have a dramatic impact on reproduction. By running regular press tests, you can see the impact of some of these kinds of changes and correct for them.

Include a grid for the range of colors you commonly use at varying densities and screens. Include gray scale screens to show what a 10% black and an 80% black look like on your press.

This will allow you to show advertisers and designers what screens and colors work best and to develop better standards for both news and advertising.

Experiment with some of your smaller type elements: body type, agate, type used for graphics or captions. Try these elements a bit larger or set differently or in different fonts to see if they can be improved.

— Creative Circle Media Solutions

Guarantee results for print ads!

Do you have car dealers or other businesses in your market that have abandoned print?

Do they say that you can’t give them accountable or attribution ROI for their ad dollars?

Many newspapers have found that using the customer’s sales data to track sales activity against newspaper subscriber records can demonstrate performance for print advertising. This works particularly well for large ticket sellers such as car dealers.

Proven Performance Media, a division of Belo, can help. Example: A large Southeast market newspaper recently contracted with Proven Performance Media, sold 10 dealerships in six months, and are adding new non-running dealers monthly.

The process included using measured dealer sales for prior six months, determining an average sales volume, and then negotiating a price the dealer would pay per added sale above that average per month to matched subscribers ($225 to $450).

The newspaper then runs a strong print and online schedule of their creation, proving value.
Example dealership spending: Month 1-$6K, Month 2-$10K, Month 3-$18K, Month 4-$24K

With success, dealers convert to a traditional rate agreement.

The amount paid per car sold is determined using averages developed based on car make/value/market size. Proven Performance can offer guidance.

This program also works in furniture, flooring, roofers, carpet, new business, and includes call tracking.

Some insights from Richard Jones – president of Proven Performance:
• Print newspapers still work. We run campaigns and see data from clients across platforms, and the newspaper is still a top producer in many categories.
• Cross media is a must! When an advertiser runs a cross-media campaign, they improve their overall results. For example, when an advertiser runs a search campaign with a print campaign, we see a lift in call volume and site traffic. A true 1+1=3.
• Frequency matters. We know it’s true in most media, but for some reason, print is expected to carry the weight of success with one ad. Over the past several years, we have seen optimal results when running three ads or more in one week. Which days are effective depends on the business.

— Mark Stange, MWStange LLC

Put puzzles in their place

Readers love puzzles and for many readers, puzzles are a main reason they buy the paper.

But I don’t think many people who work at newspapers bother with the puzzles. Otherwise we wouldn’t see so many crossword puzzles stuck in the wrong places on pages.

We often see crosswords at the very top of a page or in the middle. We see them along the gutter on the inside of pages. All bad.

The very best place for a crossword puzzle is the lower right-hand corner of a right-hand page. The puzzle hints or text can be above or to the left of the puzzle grid itself.

Why? Because if you are doing the crosswords and the puzzle is anywhere else, you have to fold the page up to get to it or risk getting ink all over your sleeve. When the puzzle is at the bottom and outside edge of the page, you can just lay the paper down and get to work and never worry about getting ink on your sleeve.

It sounds like a small thing but it’s pretty important if you do that puzzle every day. And small things add up. When we think like consumers, we make smart decisions that make our products easier to use and enjoy.

That same positioning is true for all puzzles – better at the bottom or on the right edge of a right-hand page for the majority of right- handed people. It’s just more important for the crossword because people spend much more time doing them.

And while you are improving the crosswords, consider increasing the size of the grid. That will go over big with readers. And don’t just use the PDF of the puzzle many syndicates supply. You’ll get better legibility (and we can often save space) by downloading the text for the hints and typesetting them in your fonts. (Most puzzles come in both formats. They can be used as PDFs or the pieces can be downloaded online.)

— Creative Circle Media Solutions