These were the first words I learned when I broke into sales following my four years in the U.S. Airforce. It was the Summer of 1960 and I set out to conquer the world. Set it on fire with my determination and belief that nothing could stop me.
In the case of retail sales, I'm the guy, represents getting to know your customer on a personal basis in a very short time. Sometimes within just a few words. People do business with people they like.
Today is the day. A person seemingly browsing from store to store is waiting for a reason to stop here and buy. You must provide that reason. Perhaps "today is the last day of the sale, or there is just one left," all are reasons that sometimes work.
This is the place represents selling not just yourself but the institution you work for.
These rules never change, except they sometimes have to be modified to fit a particular market. While I only wrote for about five years as a correspondent to the Spokesman-Review, I was still in sales. The crime reporter that wrote a gripping story about crimes and the travails of the victims, are sales people.
That I never attended a unniversity, nor a school of journalism, I got away with much, because my readers didn't either. They just liked my style of telling a story. Armed with three years of high school journalism, I charged forth to the often times chagrin of my long suffering editor, when I didn't march to the homogenized drummer of the University of Oregon or other fine schools or journalism. But I digress.
My point is that the unshaven man that races out to the paper box in his or her night wear was looking for entertainment and knowledge of how the world works for at least that day and through the eyes of a reporter. What, then, is their motive for buying that product? See the above. All of it.
We all know that circulation in dollars doesn't support the operation of the newspaper. Advertising does the bulk of the work. Herein lies the basic problem. Does that unshaven guy rush out to discover the newest bargains at K-Mart? Probably not many, if any. They simply want what they bought. News and entertainment. The pulse of the world and nation or all of the above.
Comes the accounting department. An institution that is tasked with the job of making ends meet. They have and are still failing at that job.Why? Because that forgot who pays the bills. Not the advertiser, they just look at numbers and demographics. Which medium gives them the most for the least gets the ad.
So, we having established what makes the industry work, why haven't publishers figure this out themselves. The tail is wagging the dog. Accounting departments never attended any school of journalism, not any other form of creativity. They are in the vernacular, "Bean Counters."
Yet the publishers rest their investment in the hands of people that do not produce any form of news, entertainment or knowledge. Just numbers. Circulation drops off because the number crunchers, hereafter N/C find that reducing content will also reduce losses.
So the paper shrinks, reporters are laid off or offered early retirement and the consumer, the force that drives the ship gets a notice telling them that for less we are going to charge you more. My friends, that is the definition of a death spiral and since all news people are fed into the system by the same proffessors, they don't get it, because after all they weren't taught anything about what happens when the "boss," the subscriber gets fed up and quits. Oh, and the editor that replaced the news editor that quit in the pride of a man that wouldn't compronise his principle? A good man, An intelligent man, but the head bean counter. Where have the cojones gone?
PHOTO: TOM HOLMAN - GRANITE CREEK FIRE
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