A Gatehouse Media “Surprise and Delight” Story

About 30 years ago, I went to work for a small company that created banknote engravings and printed United States and Canadian Banknotes (currency). Our annual sales for nine fully staffed offices were $900,000 when I started. As the national sales manager, I had a lot of work to do to jump start sales or close each office and let go of staff.

In three years we were able to grow the business to $7 million in sales.

I know first-hand the challenges of increasing revenue. More importantly, when it comes to newspapers – daily or weekly, independent or part of a conglomerate – I have decades of experience helping retain and generate subscribers.

A few years ago, The Stockton Record, a GateHouse Media publication, was watching its subscriber base drop and needed a program to boost subscriptions. Here’s how we helped:

• We developed a Rewards Card to “Surprise and Delight” existing subscribers before their renewal date.
• We created four versions of the card, one for each geographic area the paper served.
• Each card featured 36 special offers to nearby restaurants, retailers and service providers for free items and steep discounts.
• The offers were valid for 14 months from the rollout of the program.

The paper used the Reward Cards in several ways: to generate renewals from existing subscribers; to thank new subscribers for starting a trial subscription; as a gift when their contractors generated new subscriptions via door-to-door; and as a giveaway for signing up at community events.

Over the course of this program, retention of existing subscribers increased 17%. In addition, after the 90-day trial, 25% of new subscribers extended their subscription. (This is not the norm for newspapers.)

Since 1986, GoalGetters, Inc. has been providing acquisition, retention and revenue-generating loyalty rewards programs for newspapers, cable and energy companies.