Why have an NIE program?

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I have found there are three important benefits of an NIE program. Most people are familiar with two of these. In this column, I propose a third and surprising benefit. But first, let's look at the first two:

  1. A Newspaper In Education program is a tremendous gift to your local schools and helps students excel academically. Certainly it is an important reason to support NIE, but if the program starts to diminish the newspaper's bottom line, it gets cut.
  2. A Newspaper In Education program boosts circulation. However, since NIE "moved below the line" in the ABC circulation audit report, some newspaper administrators are questioning whether or not that circulation has any real value.
  3. A third and an important reason for NIE is one that many newspapers have not yet realized. It is a fiscally strong reason to have an NIE program. It is so strong, that it could provide a newspaper with reasons to give their NIE program more support rather than less. Caught your interest? Here it is: NIE could be a newspaper's strongest marketing tool for growing home delivery subscriptions.

NIE – A marketing tool for home delivery subscriptions?

Home-delivery circulation continues to fall. Decades of drops in home-delivery subscriptions reveal that young people who do not grow up with newspapers in their homes are less likely to become subscribers when they have households of their own. While NIE is highly effective in reaching new young readers in the schools, the biggest advantage would be to get the newspaper back into the home.

Find out who decides to purchase a home-delivered newspaper subscription.

Women make 80 percent of the household purchasing decisions. Newspapers cannot successfully grow their home-delivery circulations without understanding how to market to women.

"America's moms make so much sense because they make most of the buying decisions in most households, and certainly the bulk of the everyday purchases most important to retail advertisers." reports Lisa Snedeker in her article, For newspapers, it's all about Mothers, Media Life Magazine.

As a bottom-line issue, it's "suicidal" for newspapers to overlook women. Edward Miller, managing partner of the Newsroom Leadership Group reports that women are fleeing newspapers in droves. "If we lose women, we lose advertisers, and then the bottom falls out," Miller said.

While there are now many recommendations for editorial and design changes created to make newspapers more appealing to women, the purpose of this commentary is to tap into a unique opportunity to reach women consumers through a strong presence in the schools created by NIE programs.

Show up, helpfully, in her world.

Women and men differ in the way they receive and evaluate information. Women don't just look at the center of the ring of the bull's-eye. They look around it, walk around it, circle around it. Because of this, women want the newspaper to show up on the periphery, in the natural settings of daily life. Women don't respond well to jumping up and down and waving a flag to capture their attention, but rather to companies that show up unexpectedly, helpfully. In her real world. "If you can find places for your brand to pop up where she least expects it, ironically, it will make a deeper impression than if you bludgeon her with those old hammer-over-the-head ads." (EVEolution, Faith Popcorn, pp. 112)

Where is mom?

In order to show up, helpfully, in a mother's world, we need to look at where she goes. The top two concerns of mothers are the health and education of their children. As such, she is involved at school, attending meetings and reading materials about her child's health and education. She is at scout meetings, the doctor's office, the dentist's office, the toy store, the book store, the library, ball games – anywhere she feels she needs to take her children for their educational, emotional, social and physical benefit.

With an NIE program, you and mom are both at school.

The great news is that a quality, service-oriented Newspaper In Education program, is already showing up on her periphery, in the natural settings of the daily lives of moms. The newspaper with a quality NIE program has its brand show up in the schools, in the libraries, at the community children's festivals, and many other family areas.

Our NIE programs provide the best kind of access to mothers. Now is the time to develop effective marketing and sales campaigns to show her the important benefits of subscribing to the newspaper and generate word of mouth (buzz) for a lifestyle that includes newspapers as a "must-have" for the parent who cares about her child's success in school. We need to have the right kind of materials to close a subscription sale with her. And, in addition to increasing home-delivery circulation today, we will ensure that more young people develop a lifetime newspaper reading habit at home.

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