Prospecting with your local Chamber of Commerce
Is your publication's goal to reach newcomers quickly and to become relevant to them in their new home? It should be, and in all fairness I have not known of any newspaper that did not have that goal, especially so in a competitive market.
As we all know, almost all newcomers considering a move to an area contact the local Chamber of Commerce prior to the move, often well before they actually move. You may not realize that the cost of responding is a large part of the Chamber's budget. Like most businesses, the Chamber management is looking for cost savings.
So here is a win-win for you and your local Chamber. Ask your Chamber head if they would like for you to mail out their welcome packs with a copy of your newspaper, with you assuming all the mailing cost. From my experience they will jump on this. They win by reducing expenses; you win by being able to reach newcomers before they arrive. If you have multiple editions, use your largest – including inserts. If not, and you have some good special editions, you should add a special edition stressing the merits of your community.
To make the most of your win, include a note stating that for the next month they will receive a complimentary subscription to your publication by mail. This should be done in both the email packet and again with the first paper mailed after the packet. At the end of the complimentary subscription, you should send an offer for an additional month if needed, or an offer for a "newcomers special" to start when they arrive. Should they extend the complimentary mail subscription, send the "newcomers special" again at the end of that subscription.
From my experience in a competitive market, this was a real win for us. We worked with multiple Chambers of Commerce and each of them were glad to have the expense help and happily provided their mailing list each week. Think about that again: "happily provided the mailing list each week." Have you had experience where a Chamber was reluctant to provide the list? Wanted a donation or a payment, or just refused to work with you at all? When offering this agreement, you should get positive replies and consideration.
One other point, your postmaster may be able to help you package the mailer in a manner to get the periodical material rate.
Just saying ...
Lewis Floyd is a senior associate with WB Grimes & Company, with responsibility for the Southern states. He may be reached at (850) 532-9466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.