Smart single-copy sales

In the IHT, via Romenesko:

“Now The Standard is fighting back, using a new, cashless payment system to try to make it easier for Londoners to buy the paper, even if they do not have the necessary 50 pence, or $1, in their pockets. Instead of handing over a coin or two, readers touch a card, called Eros, onto specially equipped devices at more than half of its 300 vendors around London.”

That’s what I’m talking about: Modernize the experience of buying the print edition if you want anyone to even think about doing it.

Wait, it gets better, I love this part:

“The Eros cards, which can be bought via the Internet, offer a discount on the price of the paper. The discount increases with the frequency of purchases.”

Now we’re talking: Buy the card online (or at a kiosk on the street, I’m hoping) and you actually get a better deal than you would with your quarters, er, pence, and the deal gets better the more often you buy the paper.

So not only are you now modernizing the purchase experience, but you’re building brand loyalty and putting a piece of marketing for your paper in the pocket of the consumer.

Yes to all of that, and yes again.

Modernize everything.

The one dollar newspaper

Call me some sort of radical, but here’s a simple proposal that I think could provide newspapers with a big boost in single copy sales, and profits, too:

  1. On the rack or in the box, your newspaper now costs one dollar. When was the last time you paid less than a dollar for a bottle of water? When was the last time you paid less than a dollar for a cup of coffee? Do you really think the majority of readers who buy single copies are going to stop buying them because now they don’t have to figure out how many nickels they need? Which brings me to…
  2. Your boxes now accept dollar bills. Again, when was the last time you worried about whether or not you had exact change for a soda machine? Don’t make me think about having quarters in my pocket (I never do) or where I can get change. Modernize those boxes so they actually look like machines anyone under the age of 65 might interact with on a regular basis.

That’s it, just two steps to better sales. Add a credit card swiper to the boxes if you really want to get wild.

(This idea came to me while posting a comment on John Hassell’s Exploding Newsroom blog – check it out.)

[UPDATE: Yoni Greenbaum posts a comment with a link to the best newspaper boxes I’ve ever seen.]