The other day, someone came to the door and rang the doorbell. When I answered, he was standing back about 10 feet (which everyone seems to do now – seriously, when did that start?), and he said something like:
“Hi, I’m your neighbor from down the street, and I’m also your new newspaper delivery guy. I know you don’t subscribe, but we’d like to give you the Sunday paper for free. Would you like me to leave it on your driveway, or up here by the door?”
Nice of him to ask, but sheesh, just what I need, another newspaper to have to throw away. The only thing I use them for is to put on the garage floor while I’m working on my motorcycle, and the local community paper that comes once a week (whether you want it or not) serves that need. I certainly don’t need – or want – the huge Denver paper every week.
So I told the guy “thanks, but I’d prefer not to get the paper at all.” Thinking that, you know, after 20 years I will have saved a whole tree by being so selfless.
The guy was utterly shocked. “Not even for the coupons?” he said. He wouldn’t let it go – he really gave me the feeling that I am the only one in the country who doesn’t dig the ads and coupons out of the Sunday paper. Finally he got the message and went to the next house, and thankfully I haven’t run over a paper on my driveway yet.
But it all got me thinking. I mean, sure, I’d like to save a few bucks as much as the next guy. Maybe I’m missing something in all these ads I never see. But why do I apparently need to get a 5-pound paper every week, throw most of it away, and then rifle through the inserts looking for where bananas (or TVs, or couches, or who knows what else) are on sale this week? Is there not a better way? And how many newspapers must we print to get the word out?
Suppose I want a new couch. The one thing I know about couches, other than how to sit on them, is that they go on sale all the time and I would guess no one pays retail for these things. So why can’t I go to a web site, let it size me up for a while to ascertain my location, type in “couches,” and have it show me all the awesome couches that are being advertised in my area right now? Presumably the same ones that are in the newspaper, but for those of us who want to be newspaper-free.
If I google couches 80129, I get nothing even remotely like this. Huh.
And I know what the paper-flyer folks are thinking. What if I didn’t know I wanted a new couch, but then I saw the insert, and got so excited I had to go get one. If that really does work, and newspaper inserts can plant the seed of an idea and then lead to an immediate transaction, then I suppose the inserts are here to stay. My guess is this works better for bananas than for couches, though. And in any case, there should also be a digital version of this.
Almost as bad as the newspaper is having to think of every store that sells couches, go to their web site, and look to see if they have a local ad online. That’s a lot of work, and it’s probably only going to work for the larger stores that automatically publish their ad flyers on a weekly basis. And, I have to think of that store when I’m making my mental list.
Seems to me this information should be aggregated, and available based on location. Perhaps there’s an opportunity there. Or maybe it already exists, and I’m the only one who doesn’t know about it.
And in the meantime…I say to local businesses, remember that you, too, can be found on the internet. Your web site can be much more dynamic. And when I’m searching for information, when I’m ready to buy, when I actually want to see your advertised products, you’re hiding from me.
And no, I didn’t see your ad in the paper.