Local newspapers are not dead. According to the Pew Research Center, traffic has been steadily increasing. The reasons are varied and include factors like online subscriptions. People are realizing local news, weather and government oversight suffer when towns do not have at least one local newspaper. Because of the local nature of the publication, it can help local professionals find business.
Not all local newspapers are relying on advertising revenue to survive. This has been an area of diminishing returns as additional advertising venues have been pulling viewers away.
Our local newspaper reorganized as a nonprofit foundation, giving it additional sources of funding, like individual donors who see the value of local journalism, yet would not have a need to place ads, the traditional source of revenue. Put another way, the Great and the Good support local journalism. Therefore, local journalism can be a great way to connect with them.
Let us look at 11 ways reading your local newspaper cover to cover can lead to business.
Readers Choice Awards. Local publications run competitions where readers nominate professionals, businesses and nonprofits in dozens of categories. Readers then vote. There will be categories for best accountant, best financial advisor, best insurance agent, best bank and more. You want to be a winner or finalist.
Community event photos. Many people read the local paper to see who supported which events. There are often dozens of people named in these photos. Your client notices you supported their cause. Your prospect does not see their current advisor pictured at that event, but they see you.
Letters to the Editor. Before there was social media (long before) newspapers would publish letters written by readers on varied topics. Over the following weeks, there is often a back and forth as the topic is discussed by different readers. You will see local community leaders at events. They are current on local issues. Now you are too.
New businesses. The business section of the local paper might be small, but it may often talk about grand openings. It also talks about commercial development projects. You can get some advance notice about new businesses in the area.
Real estate transfers. This can be golden. You learn who is new to the area, complete with street address. You learn who sold the property, often with the cash amount listed. It is a way of learning who your new neighbors are and, from another perspective, money in motion.
Charitable donors. Nonprofits often advertise their upcoming galas as a way of getting visibility and selling tickets. The ads, which can be pretty large, often list the gala committee members or the sponsors on board so far. This lets you know who is philanthropically minded.
Township government meetings. These are public meetings and usually covered in detail by the local press. You can learn a lot about property variances that are up for approval, which may include commercial projects. What new businesses are coming to the area?
Who are the major privately held businesses in the local area? It is common knowledge the majority of the wealth in the local community is often in the hands of established local businesses and their owners. Think about car dealerships and the large tracts of land they own. By looking at advertisers over time and sponsors of charity events, you can identify the major players.
Charity galas and nonprofit fundraisers. Some run ads, others do not. The local paper often runs short articles announcing these events in advance. There is often a calendar of upcoming events including concerts and gallery openings. If you want to mingle with people with prospect potential or simply make new influential friends, here is your road map.
Who is your competition? Financial advisors and other professionals support community organizations. They also hold and announce document shredding events. They run seminar ads. The local paper gives you an idea of which organizations have lots of competitors seeking attention and which others do not, providing opportunity.
Who are the major real estate brokers and agents? Local papers include plenty of real estate ads. Some are very big. You see certain agents again and again. That is a clue they are likely successful. Real estate can be a good investment, but it is relatively illiquid. You probably offer investments with better liquidity and borrowing ability.
Reading the local newspaper can be relaxing. It can also be filled with business opportunities.
Bryce Sanders lives in New Hope. This essay first appeared Oct. 10 on Advisorpedia.com.