Tish Grier is suggesting over on the E-Media Tidbits blog that the National Do Not Call Registry, first launched in 2003, may be partially responsible for the drop in newspaper subscriptions over that time since it’s harder for newspapers to pester potential subscribers.
Newspaper Marketing Taking a Hit from the Do-Not-Call List?
One rather unscientific example I can give of the effect of telemarketing on subscription rates is my own interaction with them. Before I put myself on the NDNCR, I received several calls monthly from newspaper telemarketers. These calls were for both my local papers (The Daily Hampshire Gazette and The Springfield Republican) as well as for The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Occasionally I took the home subscription offers for varying lengths of time from the Republican and the NYT. In my way I was helping to increase circulation, even for brief periods.
I can relate to Tish’s experience with newspaper telemarketing. I’ve similarly gone through seasonal on-off relationships with newspaper subscriptions over the past 10 years. If they threw a good enough 8-12 week offer at me going into the fall/winter, I’d take it.
However, there is little chance I’d subscribe to the StarTribune today. They blew it at least twice by auto-renewing telemarketed offer.
Here’s how it went down: They pitched me on taking 12 Sunday papers at a discounted price. I accepted. Sometime during that period, envelopes looking like renewal notices or bills start showing up. Since I didn’t plan to renew, I just threw them away without opening them under the assumption that the paper would stop showing up at the end of my commitment. Eventually, the bills were replaced by letters from collections agencies threatening to ruin my credit over $13.
Had the telemarketer told me, “While you just agreed to accept 12 Sunday papers, what you’re REALLY agreeing to is an eternal subscription to the paper. By accepting 12 papers, you’re acknowledging that you must proactively cancel something you didn’t ask for in the first place.”
Basically, I’ve lost trust in the StarTribune’s subscription sales department and I’m not sure how they’ll gain it back.