Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

How newsagency marketing groups support the broader newsagency channel

Mark Fletcher on April 24, 2014 6:54 AM

Continuing my week-long series on newsagency marketing groups, today I’ll outline how newsagency marketing groups support the channel beyond the individual businesses the serve.

The newsagency channel in Australia is the last great independent small business retail channel in this country. In small towns and in cities our businesses provide a valuable service and a heartfelt connection to something uniquely Australian.

Many of us newsagents claim a local community connection is a vital point of difference for us. Equally, many newsagents rely on being connected to the newsagency channel for support and to leverage their point of difference.

It is likely that every newsagency business in Australia relies on and values being part of the newsagency channel in one way or another – whether we each know this or not.

Marketing groups support the newsagency channel in a range of ways:

  1. Supporting GNS.  GNS is newsagent owned. Groups that support GNS support newsagents and their shareholding in GNS. GNS supports newsagents through its supplier funded marketing of newsagency businesses.
  2. Spending within the channel. Through supporting suppliers who reinvent in newsagency businesses there is a circular flow of cash that comes back to benefit newsagents.
  3. Loving your business. By helping newsagents to fall in love with their businesses by enjoying them more can release optimism from which the business benefits.
  4. Facilitating networking. One of the biggest assets in the newsagency channel is newsagents themselves. By encouraging positive networking a marketing group can help newsagents harness the value and power of friendship, teamwork and collaboration.
  5. Understanding cornerstone products. With one eye on the future, an engaged marketing group can help newsagents ensure they leverage value and support cornerstone products such as newspapers, magazines and greeting cards – three categories for which our channel is known yet which newsagents often neglect to their detriment.
  6. Offering a training path for employees. Our channel is the entry point for many school leavers as well as some returning to the workforce after many years absent. A marketing group can offer a framework through which newsagents can nurture these people to be benefit of the business and the channel more broadly.
  7. Strategic leadership. Through strategic plans, newsagency marketing groups can show newsagents a path along which businesses can walk a path to a viable future in this changing world.
  8. Active representation. Engaged newsagency marketing groups help newsagents in their back rooms with industrial relations advice, lease advice, insurance advice and other business management advice – making businesses stronger and through this the channel stronger.

Beyond supplier deals, seasonal marketing and other more obvious benefits, newsagency marketing groups can bring a considerable value to the newsagency channel that benefits not only member businesses but the wider channel. From this all newsagents benefit.

Footnote: Regulars here would know I am a shareholder in and Director of newsXpress. Prior to that I was a member of Nextra and a shareholder in my later years with them following a capital raising. Prior to that my newsagency was a member of Newspower.

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BBC documentary on the impact of tobacco legislation in Australia

Mark Fletcher on April 24, 2014 6:29 AM

Further to my post from February about the BBC producing a documentary on tobacco packaging changes, click here to see the resulting story.

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Supermarkets are lazy with magazines

Mark Fletcher on April 24, 2014 6:11 AM

supermagsSupermarkets are lazy when it comes to displaying, promoting and managing magazines. Magazine displays are often untidy, titles inappropriately placed and cover-driven opportunities often ignored – unless the publisher pays for special attention.

This photo shows part of the magazine section in a suburban Coles supermarket. To me, it presents a confusing message to the shopper. The AWW customer is not the Girlfriend customer nor the marie claire customer yet these titles are next to each other. They have took in their display space for better placement yet they make no attempt to fix this.

Australian newsagents do a better job displaying and promoting magazines than supermarkets. We should be proud of our point of difference.

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Now this is how to leverage a brand

Mark Fletcher on April 24, 2014 6:03 AM

thomasCheck out the aisle-end I saw in an overseas newsagency-bookshop this week promoting the Thomas the Tank Engine brand capping a stand packed with Thomas products. As you’d expect, it attracts kids and shoppers shopping with and for kids. Brilliant!

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Loom Bands in more stores

Mark Fletcher on April 24, 2014 5:59 AM

loomgiftCheck out the impressive front window Loom Bands display in a Cosmetics Plus store in Brisbane this week.

Newsagents offering Loom Bands should compare their display with the display as shown in the photo. How do you compere? If this was a shop next to yours, how would you pitch Loom Bands differently?  This display puts my approach until now to shame.

To successfully compete we need to have the best pitch.

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How to get the most from your newsagency marketing group

Mark Fletcher on April 23, 2014 6:14 AM

Continuing my week-long series on newsagency marketing groups, today I’ll outline how newsagents can get the most from the group they belong to.

Some newsagents who quit or leave a newsagency marketing group blame the group for not serving their needs – either through lack of services, lack of appropriate supplier deals or poor support. While this will be true in some instances, it could be true in others that the newsagents have not made the most of the opportunities.

The newsagents who make more money from being in a newsagency marketing are those who embrace all the grow has to offer. Here are my suggestions on how to get the most from a newsagency marketing group.

  1. Engage. A good newsagency marketing group will regularly put opportunities in front of you – supplier deals, marketing advice, training, social media suggestions, surveys – engage. If you don’t, you;re not part of the group and not part of the total brand experience.
  2. Communicate. At meetings, speak up. In the group’s online forum, have your say. When your area manager visits, share your thoughts. If you are confronting a business challenge, seek advice.
  3. Network. Go to group meetings, conferences and other marketing group gatherings. Connect with others. The more you get to low people the more you can learn.
  4. Seek challenges. A good newsagency marketing group will show you opportunities and ideas outside what has been traditional for your business. Work hard to NOT be closed-minded to these opportunities. If you are not being challenged as much as y0u want, ask.
  5. Learn. Sometimes, the biggest value of being in a newsagency marketing group can be what you learn – products to place with others, free marketing opportunities, staff training insights, the employee management advice, advice on how to hire and how to fire, when to promote certain items. Seek out these free learning opportunities.
  6. Ask for help. If you are oversupplied with magazines, ask for help. If you are facing a lease challenge, ask for help. If you suspect employee theft, ask for help. If you have an award rate question, ask for help. If you want to build your customer database, ask for help.
  7. Invest. Just joining a newsagency marketing group does not improve your business. You have to invest time, money and focus to achieve a commercial valuable outcome.

Remember, the only reason to join a newsagency marketing group is so the business makes more money and therefore becomes more valuable. What you get form the investment is as much up to you as it is up to the group.

Footnote: Regulars here would know I am a shareholder in and Director of newsXpress. Prior to that I was a member of Nextra and a shareholder in my later years with them following a capital raising. Prior to that my newsagency was a member of Newspower.

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The Saturday Paper expands distribution

Mark Fletcher on April 23, 2014 6:09 AM

The distribution of The Saturday Paper expands from this weekend to Adelaide and Brisbane. Click here to see the announcement from IPS.

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Adelaide Advertiser hard to find in Adelaide

Mark Fletcher on April 23, 2014 5:49 AM

Several newsagents contacted me yesterday saying that cuts in circulation by the publisher saw them sell out of the Adelaide Advertiser before lunchtime.

Too often, we hear of situations where newsagents advise what they need and publishers, in their wisdom, disagree and sales are lost as a result.

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NANA CEO removed from role

Mark Fletcher on April 22, 2014 2:31 PM

Chaing Lim has been removed from his role following a decision by the NANA Board today. Here is the announcement:

The Board of NANA has elected to remove the NANA CEO (effective 22 April 2014)  – in the interests of NANA and its members.The issues surrounding the dismissal are sensitive and by virtue of the Constitution of NANA, which binds the Board and its Members will remain confidential.The Board is currently evaluating the future direction of NANA and will release information in the coming days and weeks ahead.

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What newsagents should expect from their newsagency marketing group

Mark Fletcher on April 22, 2014 5:59 AM

Continuing my week-long series on newsagency marketing groups, today I’ll outline what I think newsagents should expect from a newsagency marketing / franchise group.

  1. Opportunities to make more money – through supplier discounts, special buying opportunities, exclusive buying opportunities, buying tours, marketing and ranging advice and guidance on new product categories.
  2. Help in business management – through access to good lease advice, employer / employee relations advice, accounting advice and insurance advice.
  3. Guidance in business planning – through access to newsagency, retail, media and other local and international trends and insights, deep mining of individual and other business data as well as access to planning professionals.
  4. Networking opportunities – where you can talk business with your peers and share ideas and insights from local store experiences.
  5. Marketing and advertising assistance, tools and advice – from support for major seasons, opportunities for out-of-shop promotion and advertising, advice on social media engagement as well as platforms through which you can share ideas with colleagues.
  6. Transparency – confidence that deals are genuine, advice is not conflicted and results shared are real and can be verified.
  7. A helping hand – people you can turn to for advice and support on anything, as you would family.

Newsagents considering joining a marketing group should think about what they want from the engagement before they start looking.

While marketing groups will claim they deliver some or all of these benefits, only those in a group and experiencing what it is delivering today can comment on that group and its performance today.

Footnote: Regulars here would know I am a shareholder in and Director of newsXpress. Prior to that I was a member of Nextra and a shareholder in my later years with them following a capital raising. Prior to that my newsagency was a member of Newspower.

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Royal endorsement of Loom Bands

Mark Fletcher on April 22, 2014 5:49 AM

The report published by News Corp. yesterday is enough for us to claim royal endorsement of Loom Bands. Click on the link, print the story and display it with your Loom Bands.  Sales are still strong for these bands – kids love them … boys and girls.

This report is an excellent opportunity for another push.

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Peppa Pig Easter hit

Mark Fletcher on April 22, 2014 5:43 AM

peppaholsPeppa Pig branded plush, cards, stationery packs and other lines have been a hit through Easter. Our front of store placement attracted new traffic as well as extending the basket of some regular shoppers.

Peppa Pig has been the single most successful brand for us this Easter.

The Peppa Pig brand continues to be strong for us. So far in 2014, revenue from the brand is up significantly on 2013. While we are fortunate to be in a centre where parents and grandparents shop with and for kids, our supp==ccess is due to us grabbing it with in-your-face displays.

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Coke fridges as entertainment

Mark Fletcher on April 22, 2014 5:31 AM

cokeCoke vending machines that only sell Coke are a relic of an era long past. The latest generation Coke vending machines offer entertainment and opportunities for fun with the core goal of getting you engaged with their brand.

Coke knows that engagement = sales.

The Coke corporate website has examples of tremendously innovative Coke vending machines. I mention this today because many newsagents sell Coke. For us to make the most of the opportunity we need to stay connected with the broader campaign supporting the brand.

As I mentioned in January last year, the worldwide Coke happiness campaign is extraordinarily successful and enjoyable.

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Why join a newsagency marketing group?

Mark Fletcher on April 21, 2014 7:06 AM

I plan to write each day this week about newsagency marketing / franchise groups, to encourage newsagents to engage with the opportunities they present.

Regulars here would know I am a shareholder in and Director of newsXpress. Prior to that I was a member of Nextra and a shareholder in my later years with them following a capital raising. Prior to that my newsagency was a member of Newspower.

The posts this week will not seek to guide newsagents to or from any specific newsagency marketing group. They will provide information that stands up to scrutiny as being fair, balanced and of value to individual newsagents.

Today’s question / topic is: Why join a newsagency marketing group?

The only reason that matters is the commercial reason – that by being a member of a newsagency marketing group, paying their fees and engaging with their advice and the commercial opportunities they present your business will benefit commercially.

Newsagents join a newsagency marketing group to profit.

Yes, some will join to connect with friends but this is not a good reason. Others will join a reason because they think just by wing in a group life will be easier. This is not a good reason. Some will join to get access to a single supplier deal. This is not a good reason.

No newsagency is too big or too small to benefit from being part of a group. Size itself should not be a consideration.

The only reason that really matters is to join a newsagency marketing group so your business profits. This then sets the tone and objective for engagement.

The real value of newsagency marketing group membership comes from active engagement with all they offer. A good group will offer product deals, marketing opportunities, special buying opportunities, retail advice, lease advice and more. Combined, these services and deals are what will make you money if you engage.

The right group embraced with the right engagement will do more for your business than you could achieve by yourself. This is why newsagents should join a newsagency marketing group.

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Disney brand important for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on April 21, 2014 6:56 AM

artwdisneycakesWhile the Disney Cakes & Sweets cake decorating partwork continues to sell well for us, the bigger benefit is that it part of a broader Disney opportunity for us. We have Disney products from four other suppliers and this enables us to tell a bigger Disney story.

It falls on us as retailers to source branded products with which we can tell a story and thereby achieve more from products which, on their own, may not have sold so well.

Brands like Disney licence their products to suppliers who can extend the reach of their brands. This is why we see several suppliers of licenced brand products. Put in the work to connect the dots and it pays off through a better retail story.

The Disney brand is back in right now and almost anything can sell from a magazine to a gift costing well over $100.

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Brilliant launch material for Tic Tac Tropical

Mark Fletcher on April 21, 2014 6:52 AM

tictacThe double page spread in a convenience magazine is an excellent example to other publishers on how to launch a new line to newsagents and other retailers.

They tell us their ad spend and where they will spend it. But it’s their steps for sales success that I like the most, especially how they show the right location. A picture really does speak a thousand words.

How many times do you get a flyer with magazines telling you this or that and end up binning it because you don’t have time to read the essay.

I’d urge all suppliers to newsagencies to look at how Ferrero has pitched the new Tic Tac line and how they have communicated and encouraged retailers.

Click on the image to see the details I mention.

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Sunday newsagency management tip: know what you can change

Mark Fletcher on April 20, 2014 6:29 AM

Regardless of your religious beliefs, the world-renowned Serenity Prayer is a powerful and inspiring guide for small business owners like newsagents:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

I have emphasised the most meaningful words in this from a business perspective.

We in small business spend too much time worrying about what we cannot change and the things we will not change. It seems that on some of these issues we prefer to expend energy and emotion complaining and being angry rather than either forcing change or moving on.

Magazines are good example. We burn through enormous energy complaining and being angry and most newsagents do nothing about it.

In the average retail newsagency business there is plenty we can change. My management tip today is to focus on what you can change in your business.

Start right away. Take out a note pad and write down the parts of your business which you can change: gifts, stationery, toys, plush, how you display magazines, hiring, firing, marketing, employee motivation connecting with the local community. These are all important areas than can impact your bottom line.

This list of what you can change is what you should focus your time and money on. For anything not on the list: do what you need to do, but don’t invest beyond this – save your best investment for the parts of your business you can change.

Think of this as you reclaiming your newsagency for you.

Narrowing your focus on what you can change could change how you manage your business and what you invest in it. I hope it boosts your business and gives you a fresh outlook. I hope that it resets your feeling to one of optimism and love for what you can do.

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Sunday newsagency marketing tip: knock on doors

Mark Fletcher on April 20, 2014 6:14 AM

If you want more customers act on getting them to do business with you. Complaining or wishing will not get them trading with you. Only your action through advertising, marketing or knocking on their doors will work for you.

I know of newsagents growing stationery and ink sales through knocking on doors. I know of newsagents growing toy sales through knocking on doors.

Yes it’s hard work and you probably did not buy your newsagency to be a door to door sales person but if you want to grow your sales this is one marketing activity you ought to embrace.

Every day you are not knocking on doors is another day a competitors could be doing it and grabbing sales that could have been yours.

Being in retail does not mean all your business has to be done in the shop!

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Oversupply of magazines to the home

Mark Fletcher on April 19, 2014 6:41 AM

While we complain about oversupply of magazines to newsagencies, in the US they are complaining about oversupply of unsolicited magazines to the home. Interesting problem.

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Excellent Easter numbers

Mark Fletcher on April 19, 2014 6:26 AM

easterrefreshEven without what should be terrific sales today Easter 2014 has been an excellent season for us. Cards, gifts and chocolate are all performing well for us in terms of sales and in terms of detracting new shoppers to the business. We are thrilled with the results we are seeing.

For years Easter in many Australian newsagencies was a minor season. Now, for plenty of us, it equals and even passes Valentine’s Day. The key is a fresh offer promoted in a compelling way.

Seasons are vitally important as seasonal shoppers spend more in a visit than a regular shopper. We make our businesses appealing to seasonal shoppers through our displays and out of store marketing. What we get from these seasons is up to us.

We will not discount until tomorrow. No need.

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Who is the customer for this discounted magazine bundle

Mark Fletcher on April 19, 2014 6:23 AM

hoisthecustomerI always thought that Good Health and Women’s Fitness targeted different shoppers – hence my surprise to find them bundled together in a discount pack. While we have removed another title to find room for this pack I’m not planning on leaving it out for the full on-sale.

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Star Trek partworks hot

Mark Fletcher on April 19, 2014 6:21 AM

tartrekWe are loving the sales being achieved with the Star Trek part series. The customer it is attracting is good for us and the impulse purchases to existing customers are excellent. With easter and Mother’s Day we do not have room for a front opt store display at the moment. Our sales are being driven from in the newspaper aisle where we have given over twelve pockets to the title.

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Learning to let go of stock that is not working in your newsagency

Mark Fletcher on April 18, 2014 6:45 AM

How long do you take to quit products that are not working in your newsagency?  A few days? A week? A month? Six months? A year?

If a product is not working every additional day it is on the shop floor or in the store room is additional cost to the business. As this cost increases the value of immediately quitting the products increases. hence the need to quit non-performing stock quickly.

In my newsagency earlier this week we decided to give away for free and or bin two small display units of products that are no longer working. It was not a lot of stock, not even filling two dump bins. Under $100 at cost.

Just having the stock on the shop floor gave off a message I did not like. Hence the decision to quit.

When we decide to exit a product we like it to be done within seven to fourteen days. We usually start at 50% off. After a week days we move to a price, often in a $1 bin and or a $5 bin as appropriate. What is left at the end of two weeks we remove by either giving it away or throwing it away.

It is important we are ruthless in quitting non-performing stock. Important to keep our businesses looking fresh, important to embrace the consequences of bad buying and important to have offers for customers that show they can get deals from us.

I accept responsibility for product I have bought which has not worked. While I’ll ale a write-down deal from a spiller if available, I will not pressure a supplier into giving one that was not part of the buy-in.

Too often newsagents expect suppliers to be responsible for newsagent buying decisions.

If we buy the stock for our stores we must responsible for dealing with it if it does not work as expected.

All products likes come to an end. This is why it is important to have an established process for handling and quitting products that are no longer working as we need them to..

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Extraordinary growth in newsagency card sales

Mark Fletcher on April 17, 2014 8:03 AM

Our Everyday Counter Card sales are up 17% year on year comparing jan-Mar 2014 to 2013.  This is off an excellent base. This category of cards accounts for 56.9% of all cards we sell.

17% YOY growth is an extraordinary result. It is valuable with cards delivering the best gross profit percentage out of all categories we sell in our business. I’d be happy to explain our process to anyone.

Talking with another newsagent today, their card sales are up 19% in the same period – a fantastic result.

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Storytelling as marketing drives newsagency sales

Mark Fletcher on April 17, 2014 6:32 AM

beggA customer told the manager of my newsagency the story of how she bought a dozen of these realistic looking bouncing eggs, put them in an egg carton and pretended to trip in the kitchen in front of her family. The reaction was priceless when they saw the eggs bounce.

A customer yesterday purchased one egg and the manager shared the story of the other customer’s prank. This customer left the shop and returned a short time later and purchased eleven more eggs to have enough for her to play the prank.

The story was shared a story, the way we often do over the counter in talking with customers – and not to chase a commercial outcome for us.  That was a surprise and delight … the sale of $43.00 worth of additional eggs to a customer who purchased one.

In addition to being retailers, lease negotiators, IR experts, buyers, parents, motivators and plenty of other things, we are story tellers. Sometime our stories are about local events and situations, other times we pass on dories from customers. The joy is when the stories connect with our businesses as this one did.

As I think about this I am reminded that it’s a situation unique to an independent newsagency business. A customer at a supermarket or a Reject shop would not usually be given the time of day for such a story. The experience is a reminder of the value of being in the moment with customers – listening and sharing stories you know will be appreciated and relevant.

These stories we share reflect on the narrative of our business. By that I mean that the stories we tell our customers are stories about and reflective of us. The stories, whether intended to or not, connect our customers with us.

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