5 Myths Most Print-Only Publishers Believe About Digital

There are a lot of things to consider when creating your online presence for your publication. However, we have worked with publishers in over 80 markets nationwide and we hear a few different excuses for not making the transition to digital far more often than others.

Myth 1: Digital Will Cannibalize my Print Product

We understand that you might be afraid that you will see a decline in print readers by improving your web presence. This is a common reaction. However, it just isn’t true. By using a Print-to-Web strategy, you will begin driving readers to your website and compliment your print product. As a result, your website becomes an extension of your brand.

Rather than cannibalizing your print product you will be increasing your reach and delivering more value to your readers. You should also see your website as a two-way street; you have the opportunity to use web traffic to grow print subscribers as well because you are able to gain trust from digital readers who you can then market your print product to.

There is also a huge difference in cost of digital versus your traditional print product. Digital has far less overhead and fixed costs. This means it has the potential to be much more profitable than your print product long term. We have mapped out a way to reach $100,000 in digital revenue by tweaking the way you currently sell ads and giving you a systematic approach centered on community sponsorships.

More and more people are going online to consume information. By postponing the conversion to digital you are risking becoming irrelevant in your market and creating a disconnect in your community. Locals want to know what is going on in their community and they want to have convenient access to that information. Your website should be the go-to site for that information. If they don’t find that information from you, they will find it elsewhere and you should be worried  about that as the biggest threat your print product.

Myth 2: We are Already Doing This With Another Company

Most companies are offering a fairly standard approach to digital. Simple banner and simple sidebar ads. These options are a start but simply not enough and lose sight of what digital is actually capable of. By approaching digital ads in a similar form as print ads, you are limiting your potential for revenue.

We suggest offering a wide array of options that can include: community sponsorships, social promotions, sponsored content, premium directory listings and more. You will be putting yourself in the best position to win over the long term. These are different ways to make both one-time as well as recurring revenue and there is an option for any advertisers budget.

Locable is also offering a novel approach. We are the only platform that offers the IMPACT marketing suite; a tool that publishers can use to generate revenue and create more value for potential advertisers. With IMPACT you are also able to create community content whenever a business or organization creates an event or signs up for the directory. All this contributes to your publication as a community resource. You should not be trying to replace your print revenue streams, but instead look to create as much diversity in your advertising options as possible.

Myth 3: My Market is Unique and My Readers are Print Only

It's great that you have a loyal print following, but you can’t stop there. Even if you have a daily publication, you are missing out on the attention of your readers between issues. Look at your website as an extension of your print brand that is able to fill in for times that you don’t have a current issue out. You also have the opportunity to gain the attention of new readers online that you can't get in print. You have the chance to engage the community in a two-way dialogue between issues that is simply not possible. We like to say that you need to reach your readers on multiple days, in multiple ways.

No matter what you believe, your readers and even more potential readers are spending time online and you need to reach them there. It's difficult to find reliable sources of local news and events online. Local publications are in a unique position to fill this need. People get excited when they can connect with their local community in everyday life.

Local businesses are also trying to reach customers online and many have existing digital marketing budgets. These are advertising dollars that businesses will spend that you are missing out on by not offering a digital product.

Myth 4: Digital Didn’t Work for a Competitor

That’s great news for you! Seriously, think about it: If that competitor went out of business in print, would you think that print didn’t work? Of course not! You would think they couldn't sell their print product. That is almost certainly why they were unable create a successful digital product. Digital is working all over the country, in order to be successful online you must have a proper strategy in place to sell digital. This is why we advocate for the community sponsorship method to get your digital business on sure footing before you launch(or re-launch)

Take the focus off things like traffic and page views and sell your publication as a community resource that will grow over time. If advertisers buy into the vision that you are creating something that brings value to your community, they will be much more likely to stick with you over time. This gives you enough revenue to profit from your digital product from day one. You will then have the freedom to grow your site organically and fulfill the vision.

If your competition had trouble creating a profitable digital product they were probably approaching it wrong. Their failure doesn’t diminish your chances of success; it actually means you can take advantage of the audience they missed out on. Learn from what your competitors did and take away insights, but don’t think that their results are the only possible outcome.

Myth 5: We’ve Got Burned By a Company That Claimed Instant Success

If a company is claiming instant success, you should stay away. Building an effective digital presence will take time. However, pre-selling community sponsors can help to cover the cost of digital upfront. While this won’t create a huge return overnight, it does help to ensure that your digital product won’t lose money. Eventually, your digital product has the potential to be far more profitable than print because of the lower cost of overhead.

A great digital presence takes commitment; you should not view it as something that will provide instant success. Publishers that make the decision to stay print-only are running the risk of becoming irrelevant, they are limiting their potential for income, and worst of all they are doing a disservice to their community by not being available to their readers in multiple places. So while a great digital presence may take some time, the long-term value will be worth it.

Digital is a Huge Opportunity for Local Publishers

By providing digital services to advertisers, you are doing them a favor by giving them a new way to reach customers online. Local advertisers don’t have many local options when it comes to online advertising. Much of the landscape is filled with complicated media that takes a significant time to learn and high competition. Advertisers are often out there on their own with no one to guide them through the process. This is where you can deliver huge value by educating them(yourself or through a digital partner like Locable) on how digital advertising will help them grow.

Advertisers know your traffic is highly localized and engaged with the community. This is a hugely important group of people for them to reach. In a BIA/Kelsey forecast small and medium sized businesses are going to spend over $12 billion dollars on digital advertising this year alone. Businesses do care about reaching an online audience and as a local publisher you are in a special position to deliver. Don’t get left out.

For more information on how we can help you break through these myths, apply for the Locable Publisher Network. We will check if your publication may be a good candidate to help build community online and get back to you with a full overview of the program. Let us know in the comments if you have any other reason for postponing the move to digital.

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