Key Takeaways for Alternate Delivery

You must have an overall strategy.

First, I want to talk about strategic and tactical considerations. I see a real rush to copy tactics. They say, “3 other newspapers did this and it worked, so we’re going to do it too.” Whether they have the same overall strategy remains to be seen, and copying tactics out of context is one of the most dangerous things we can do.

Here are the important considerations in my book. First, you have to have a why. You have to have an overall distribution strategy. Where do you want this to get you? Do you have a distribution strategy? I think you have to have a strategy to be the dominant supplier of printed material in your market, or you have to have an exit strategy. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I don’t think number 2 will be a pretty position for us to occupy.

A physical delivery operation, whether run by you or someone else, is a high-volume proposition. Like an airline or a hotel. You can’t save your way out of a hole.

I want to make it clear that I’m talking about unsolicited alternate delivery. I’m not talking about how you deliver your Sunday select. I think that enjoys a different status because it’s asked for and expected. Hopefully you’ll get a complaint if it isn’t delivered.

Your TMC program needs to be strong to survive the transition.

If your current product is on the skinny side, say less than 4 ounces on average, it’s my opinion that you lack the critical marketplace needed to come out of the mail. People are going to need to be motivated to look for the product once it’s not in the mailbox. You’ll need a healthy combination of grocery, retail and local value; pizza, restaurants, dry cleaners, auto aftermarket, etc. to get picked up from the porch or driveway and brought into the house.

Current technology is great, but people are still people.

I am really encouraged by the quality of companies that have come forward to offer alternate delivery, equally encouraged by the technology they bring to the table. That said, they still have to hire a good number of people who will adhere to the quality standards you’ve set.

About Jim Hart

I've been working with or for newspapers for the past 31 years, the first 15 in advertising, the past 16 years in all areas related to direct marketing. I work with newspapers to improve the ROI for their advertisers. The better return the advertiser gets, the more they will come back and tell their friends.

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