Yesterday I got yet another call from the subscription sales people at the Chicago Tribune.
Since I cancelled my subscription over a year ago, the calls have come fairly steadily; about once a month at least. At first they were simple pleas to come back, often accompanied by offers of Target gift cards or other such inducements. Does this really work by the way? I’d love to have a circulation person enlighten me. It has to have some degree of success, otherwise why would they be doing it, right? Then again, I know all too well the unfortunate reality that many newspaper companies do lots of things without any measurement of success so why would this be any different?
Back to my phone call. Incidentally, I answered it because it came from some mysterious-sounding city in Illinois and I was curious. Previous calls have also come from other faraway cities whose names I don’t recall. So the people trying to sell me on getting the CHICAGO Tribune don’t even live in the metropolitan area. But I digress.
This call was similar to the two or three others I’ve recently received. The latest schtick is apparently to try to get people to sign up for the Sunday paper. But wait!!! THERE’S MORE! For the low, low price of $1.50 per week, you’ll get not only the Sunday edition, but also Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s paper too!!! What a deal!!! This leaves me wondering why the Monday, Tuesday and Saturday papers aren’t getting the same hard sell, but I’m getting off topic again.
This $1.50/week rate is only good for 6 months by the way. What does it go up to after that? The woman that called me didn’t know; she had just started working there. My guess is that no one knows. They’ll see how many people they can sign up for 6 months and figure it out then. Not that I am quibbling with the cost mind you. According to my calculations, 6 months of all that paper would run me just $36, a bargain indeed at 37.5 cents per paper (though not as good a bargain as this).
So the money isn’t my problem and in fact, I think it would be smart if the callers mentioned how much you’ll be paying per paper. 37.5 cents after all sounds a whole lot lower than $1.50 per week.
No, my problem is the way the paper is being sold here and I imagine, in many other markets as well. First off, they only mention the Sunday edition and all the wonderful coupons and savings I’ll find inside. This naturally leaves a person wondering whether there’s anything else of value in there other than coupons. I guess I can just toss all that stuff wrapped around the coupons, right?
Also, I know times are tough and half-price deal sites like Groupon seem to be taking over the world, but isn’t it possible that not everyone’s lives revolve around coupons? Even if coupons were what I lived and breathed for, there’s no mention of what I’m going to find in the other three days of the paper that I’ll be getting. They’re just throwing those in “for free” like when you get a toaster for opening up a checking account. Has anyone ever gotten the impression that that toaster that the bank is giving you is really great? Exactly. The difference is that the bank doesn’t make the toaster so they don’t really care what you think of its quality. But the Tribune is making all those papers and there’s absolutely no indication from the call that they think very much of them.
Does everyone see the problem here? In trying to sell me your product, dear newspaper, you are actively devaluing it in my eyes. You’re not telling me anything about the actual news content for instance or how this paper will actually benefit my life other than saving me 50 cents on soap. I guess you don’t believe that news is what you’re selling anymore. Now you’re just selling coupons. Which, psssst, can be acquired for free online without all that pesky journalism getting in the way.