Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Interesting responses to the News Corp. newspaper closures

Mark Fletcher
May 29th, 2020 · 6 Comments

I did several interviews yesterday about the News Corp. announcement of newspaper closures and migration to digital. A surprising theme of each was the surprise of the interviewer when I said that the movers were not unexpected.

As regulars here would know, over the counter newspaper sales have been declining year on year for around ten years. The trajectory was clear and utterly predictable. It was only a matter of time.

This is why plenty of newsagents I have spoken with in the last two days have said the move will have minimal impact.

The News Corp. decision is not a surprise.

As Steve Austin on Brisbane’s ABC’s local radio mentioned to me during the interview yesterday, the declining relevance of print newspapers to retail newsagents does factor into the name of the business. While I agree, it’s not something that must be addressed today.

No, today, the focus of every newsagent should be on traffic source, on bringing in shoppers for more sought after product categories, new categories. New traffic is vital and the News Corp. announcement reinforces that. I have been saying this here and elsewhere for years. Maybe now newsagents who have not acted will act. It’s not too late.

For example, in February, 2007 I wrote:

For their part, newsagents need to learn from the IDG approach and adjust their mission to reflect the changing marketplace. This means reducing magazine display space, cutting dead titles and moving into new product categories which drive traffic and sales.

Here’s what I said in October 2019 on new traffic:

Definition: New traffic for a retail business is shoppers who are new to the businessNew traffic is traffic other than what you would receive simply by opening your doors.

Pursuing new traffic is the single most important business management activity for small business retailers today.

Why? because of the growth in online shopping, greater competition on the high street, consumer confidence challenges and growing business operational overheads. Oh, and because a more valuable business is easier to sell, when you decide to sell.

Please take a moment to think about that.

Pursuing new traffic is the single most important business management activity for you and your business.

Without wanting to sound weird or new-agey, I suggest this as a meditation point … new traffic, what it is, what it means and how you can attract it

When you approach any management or strategic activity in your business, think about what this task or activity will do to attract new shoppers.

It is not enough to do something in your shop for that is only seen by people in your shop.  What are you doing to promote this outside your shop?  … because that is where new traffic is to be found.

This is not something for your suppliers to do. It is up to you. Only you and your actions can attract new traffic.

I’d say that less than a third of  retail newsagents today are actively engaged in attracting genuine new traffic. While most will not adversely suffer in the short to medium term because of lack of engagement, they will at some point for sure. New shoppers are key to revenue, profit and upside for the business.

Pursuing new traffic is about far more than putting new products in your store. Indeed, stock is only one of several steps that are all connected in pursuing new traffic. However, stock is the start. Stocking new lines never offered in the business are the best first step to take too bring in people who do not shop with you today.

A New Traffic Strategy relies on you in actively reaching outside your four walls and deep into your catchment area, the area from which you can attract shoppers, to bring people to your business who other might not visit … to generate for you new traffic.

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Category: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Colin // May 30, 2020 at 7:32 AM

    Mark,

    Correct as usual about reaching out for new business, getting beyond the 4 walls, identifying growth revenue streams.

    But, the elephant in the room is “newsagent”.

    There is a public perception of what a newsagent is and for many, it is not good. Taking SA as an example I could name several stand out successes, some of which no longer have significant or any “newsagency” branding. But for each success there are several where the “newsagency” branding remains as it ever was.

    To be branded “newsagency” is toxic. It actually cuts you off from many customers who would be interested in non newsagent products. And, as I know from experience, “newsagency” branding can also rule out some suppliers who will not place their products in a newsagency.

    “Newsagency” is not today’s problem. It is the problem that should already have been addressed and wasn’t.

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  • 2 Mark Fletcher // May 30, 2020 at 7:45 AM

    Colin,

    I agree there is an issue with the name / shingle. However, I don’t think that matters as much. For example, I think those with lotteries do more to define their businesses than their retail shingle.

    I’ve seen plenty have success with products driving new traffic regardless of the shingle.

    Better still, there are several leaders now attracting online shoppers under non newsagency branding, with back office fulfilment being done in their newsagencies.

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  • 3 Colin // May 30, 2020 at 8:28 AM

    Your last comment illustrates my point. To maximise opportunities, don’t mention the N word.

    Also agree with lottery point. If you rebrand away from newsagency and keep lottery, has anything been achieved

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  • 4 Mark Fletcher // May 30, 2020 at 9:18 AM

    Yes, so I see it as two-steps for most. Lottery first and branding second, close by. However, those wanting to keep lotteries, should and lean into what that means.

    Covid has shown that the local newsagency is appreciated and has a role to play. That’s not said to defend an out of date shingle but, rather, to note that the topic is complex.

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  • 5 Steve // May 30, 2020 at 12:59 PM

    Mark/Colin I agree with you both here. For some leveraging off the old “Newsagency” brand may still be the best route . I suspect for many in country towns particularly so. For others a total rebrand may be best. Either way Covid 19 is forcing many businesses to re-evaluate where they are at as well as offering opportunities. Our channel is no different.

    For us I agree with Mark a continued repositioning into other higher margin products is a key as is targeted online and instore promotion there of.

    In my own store we have in the last couple of months developed a new logo and in the last couple of weeks have updated our signage to incorporate this rebranding. We continue to leverage off our history but after 115 years the reposition is clear with the objective of attracting shoppers outside our usual demographic. Our website and online store is next. Lotteries remains one part of our business but for us our major signage is our brand.

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  • 6 Mark Fletcher // May 30, 2020 at 2:22 PM

    Steve for web, while I know you didn’t ask, I’d note: one option is to offer and online version of the shop while the other, and one I prefer, is to look at web as a start up. It’s harder work but often more rewarding.

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