Selling to seniors
Indiana papers to group ads for senior citizen discounts
When a reader has a good idea, it pays to listen.
A reader of The Herald Tribune in Batesville, Ind., asked the managing editor why the paper didn't list discounts for senior citizens on specials and services. The ME reported the conversation to Laura Welborn, regional publisher of Southeastern Indiana Media.
Why not, indeed? Welborn thought.
"A lot of times the seniors already know where the discounts are. They know to go to Waffle House on Tuesday nights," Welborn said. But targeting those discounts for regular advertising and grouping them together could be done with little expense.
In the next couple of weeks, The Herald Tribune, the Greensburg Daily News and Rushville Republican will launch Savvy Senior Savings, a classified advertising section that will tuck in behind the other classifieds for all print editions of the three newspapers. It will also be listed online.
The section will be directory style, boxed off from the other classifieds. "It could be a 'buy one, get one', free drinks or dessert, or whatever. And they can change the copy monthly," Welborn said.
The three communities served by the papers aren't known as retirement living areas, but, as Welborn notes, "We're all getting older." She estimates that 35 to 40 percent of the population is aged 55 or older.
An advertiser can be placed in all three papers for $99 a month with a 12-month commitment, $145 a month for a six-month commitment or $175 a month with no commitment. The advertiser's logo is an additional $15.
While the advertising staffs will be selling the directory, Welborn said the group's call center will also be used to reach potential advertisers that might offer discounts to senior citizens. The three papers together reach an estimated 234,000 readers and unique website visitors per month.
Welborn was looking for ways to beef up the classifieds. Classified advertising has dropped in recent years from a one-time 2½ pages to a single page, she said. Newspapers in Indiana have also been threatened by proposed legislation that would cut back or eliminate various types of required public notices.
"That would hurt a lot of newspapers," Welborn said. Legislators have tried to eliminate publishing requirements for sheriff's sales and foreclosures, and have tried to cap the maximum price for an ad at $250. Legislators introducing such bills seem to prefer websites as the sole source for public notices.
Welborn said that, as an example, the city of Rushville once took out a full-page ad regarding animal control. Not only is such revenue important to the newspaper, but public notice ads also hold government accountable in ways that websites can't. People would have to know which website to search instead of knowing that they could get the information from the newspaper or the paper's website.
"That's just not being accountable to the people who put you in office," Welborn said. "They may save a little bit of money, but at the same time all that transparency goes away."
For more information on Savvy Senior Savings, reach Publisher Laura Welborn at Laura.Welborn@indianamediagroup.com.
Jane Nicholes, a regular contributor to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's eBulletin, is a freelance writer and editor based in coastal Alabama. She is an award-winning veteran of more than 30 years in the newspaper business. Reach her at email@example.com.