Why the local paper goes straight into the recycling bin…

I’m trying really hard to not pick on the Cochrane Eagle (particularly the editor UPDATE: Jack is the publisher. I was under the mistaken impression that he was the editor) every Wednesday. It’s proving to be quite the challenge. This week we have the publisher pulling his head out of the sand to check out a “tweet” from the mayor (the mayor was responding to an excellent editorial at the rival Cochrane Times, it’s worth following @trupermcbride if you’re a Bow Valley resident). Yes, the implication is that if the Times is playing the role of the professional, grown up newspaper, then the Eagle must be unprofessional and juvenile. Of course, the mayor didn’t have to go and say that…it’s there every week for all to see.

So, here’s my list of why the local paper(s) go into the recycling bin every week.

A) They’re full of flyers and have more advertising than readable content. I’m not sure if businesses have heard of a little thing called Google, but that’s where I go to search for products and services these days. Not for their business-card sized ads in a pile of newsprint that shows up on my doorstep every Wednesday.

B) BOTH PAPERS TWEET their content, and put it up online the same day. Let’s face it, we increasingly live our lives online. Consuming local news via my twitter feed is more convenient. I can read it at work. I can read it on my phone, ipad, computer. I can stay in touch with the local scene when I’m traveling.

C) Both A and B speak to this reason, but it’s worth pointing out separately. I (and all consumers) now have choice. Choice to easily seek out businesses that provide the products and services we’re looking for, when we want to look for them. We also have the choice to consume media and news in an uninterrupted format. I got to read the editors rambly and unorganized column on the web, without being subjected to any advertising.

So what’s the local, small business in a small town supposed to do? They’ve been advertising in the local paper forever.

My suggestions? Ask your customer. How did you find out about us? How would you like to learn about our products, services, specials, etc.? What format works best to communicate with you? And I’d be taking a hard look at how much that 1/4 page spread in the paper is costing every week and asking “is it worth it?”. You’ll probably be surprised.

I’ve said it before, but I shop at places that I have a relationship with. I know and trust Ralph and Dave at Fountain Tire. Jess and the girls at Java Jamboree know that I like a medium latte. Canadian Tire, is, well, Canadian Tire. I’m sure the relationship there runs all the way back to lawnmower shopping with Dad as a kid…

Check out the UnMarketing book recommendation for a great guide on how to embrace digital and social media and engage with your community, and ultimately your customer.

I’m hoping that next Wednesday I can report on a delightful, focused, relevant and positive editorial (or publisher’s rant) from my favorite local paper (you know, the one that goes in the bin straight away… :)). I’ll keep you posted!