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Sunday, November 17, 2013

HOW TO SELL NEWSPAPERS

HOW TO SELL NEWSPAPERS

Before I begin my class on selling something that is perceived extremely difficult to sell today let me tell you a short story followed by an analysis. 

Imagine its 630am you wake up, there is a smell of eggs being fried toast almost burnt on a stove and when you climbed up on the chair you got Fauji cornflakes and Milo milk in case you were not in the mod for eggs.  Your father was drinking his chai with the paper and as you got off the chair your mom told you to hug him good bye before you leftfor school.  As you reluctantly did what “mummy” said you got three distinct smells and they were in the following order the scent of your dad from his clothes, the welcoming aroma of the chai lingering on his smiling lips and then the crisp smell of the newspaper he enveloped you in or you crushed as you hugged him as though it would be the last time you saw him.  

This was a typical Pakistani family before it got corrupted by Technology and cellphones!  In those days the fattest newspaper came on Sundays with a hefty Jobs (Classified) section and forgetting the minority based publications DAWN & JANG were what you read.  In those day’s life was simple people had time and everything had a hint of innocence.  The moms were satisfied housewives (mostly) and the fathers that were employed never needed to feel insecure because their first job was their last job and they would probably leave the employer upon retirement.  The word “divorce” for any form of relationship was “never” an option and the kids would be home when the streetlights came on Tanhaiyyan being on PTV was more effective than an air raid siren to clear the roads.  And Qayyamat fell upon us kids when Parent teacher meeting days took place.  The choices were few if none but welcomed by all and there was a clarity towards our patriotic ideals and we actually believed that we would progress and land somewhere.  

Today everything has become too quick to handle and our culture has not evolved into something better because if you look at it form a comparison purpose you will observe that we have stopped focusing on quality and shave on everything and cut corners to try to get more time.  Sadly things have become incredibly horrible.  Today’s breakfast in any typical Pakistani family home goes a little something like this… 

There is utter chaos where there is no structure at all.  People living in close quarters are complete strangers and slaves to gadgets that wake them up and shock the life out of them by delivering all the gossip their best friends are saying on social media and the word home is replaced by “house that we sleep in” The entire family is centered around “money & not family values.  Both parents work and like clockwork switch jobs every 48 – 60 months (job trade) to meet the horrors of inflation because they are in ridiculous debt of some kind and live beyond their means. There are more child psychiatrists today that take ridiculous sums of money to do the jobs that parents who never wanted to be parents cannot do (not don’t want to do).

Qayyamat day falls upon teachers who dread the day they have to face the schools customers who pay the education business so well to educate their children and make them into robots.  Parents have stopped spending time with their kids and now spend less time with each other and husbands who actually care (the ones who married the girl of their dreams – love marriages) spend more time in family counselling sessions trying to find a way to communicate and not spend the next fifteen years running away from the same woman he convinced his entire tribe was his only choice who understood him and that he could talk to. 

So now you see if it aint bright and shiny then the monkeys will not play with it therefore Newspapers became toilet paper and the song “Video killed the Radio Star” really makes sense now.  BUT there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Pakistan is perceived as a country that has more BADNEWS channels than its entertainment ones!  Believe it or not there is a vast majority of those who hate this fast paced economy and culture and actually enjoy the feeling of holding a newspaper & I am not talking about the old fogies.  When you read a newspaper there is a lot involved in the process and one gets a sense of structure.  Unlike the web where you finger twitches like a heroin addict to skip to the bottom in a newspaper you respect the authors, editors and those who put the efforts into bring you that valuable bit of information.

As everything is focused around money well a paper has to earn for its self and clear its bills so one needs advertising.  But forget all of that imagine we got regular printed newspapers that would give us specific genre based information and were focused on providing unbiased information rather than here say and opinions.  Imagine being able to give your eyes a break from that strain from glaring at the screen and never having to worry about your battery running out.  Oh yes also imagine you have a ready flyswatter should you decide to roll it up.  

Since people do not have time one needs to provide accurate concise information in a printed form regularly and increase the frequency to maybe dual issues a day.  Whilst the COGS will go up one needs to stay away from the word “Marketing” and only focus on two words “Customer Service” (this is where you outsource your super-efficient delivery methods to a multiple number of effective courier companies that will do the delivery work if you do not want to deal with the almost non-existent hawker mafia who have now turned to begging) and most of all use this same courier service company to manage your “Sales & Collections” to their existing clients.  Further to this one MUST consider that only 36.2% of Pakistan is actually connected (major cities) so one needs to focus these efforts on villages and townships where electricity being present is a reason to celebrate.

Selling a newspaper is NOT hard because in the 80’s we had kabaria’s coming to the house every two months or so who would pay our family money to take the entire old lot away that our parents did not line the cabinet & cupboard floors with.  Today electronic junk is piling up and it cannot be recycled so your best bet would be to go for thinner more comprehensive issues that hit the nail on the head and are more focused on analytical perspectives by honest journalists about surviving through this decade.  I am very sure people would like to read the Gambols & smirk over Calvin & Hobbes yet once again and a lot of people would like the fact that they can engage their minds with a crossword puzzle en-route to Lahore from Karachi.


One of the best things that technology has done for this entire business vertical is that it almost flushed mafia-ism from the industry.  Whilst new words have popped up like Reporters, Offline Editors & JCG’s and information delivery methods have become instant cobwebs now exist in the offices of journalists that had integrity. As a nation we are so efficient in adopting assumptions about things that do not matter we have lost the ability to respect journalistic integrity.  The last flame of integrity was extinguished when the "journalist" that we all got perceived as an "entertaining bitter lunatic" during election time (Mr. Ardeshir Cowasjee) was laid to rest in the “Tower of Silence” (It’s ironic I know!)  So if we want to bring back our culture we need to go back and strengthen the foundations of a free press and honest analytical journalism.

This Blog was not about “Selling News Papers” IT was about trying to make a last effort to back our souls from the Devils we created!

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