Dear Washington Times,
Every summer, you seemingly employee dozens of high school students to sell newspapers at the entrances of Washington metro stations. Last summer, the kids were selling each copy for just 10 cents. Although it’s a pretty good deal compared to the price of the daily Washington Post, I simply took one of the free copies of the Express newspaper, placed directly into my hands by a friendly distributor each day. The Express fulfills my need to read during the metro ride, and I get the remainder of my local news online during the workday or evening.
But the main problem isn’t that you’re charging for your newspaper. Rather, the problem is that the kids you employ are unruly, loud, obnoxious brats who seem to have no interest in actually selling a paper. Once in a while, they’ll remember they’re wearing a sheet of paper around their neck that says they’re selling something, and then shove a paper in your face and say “Wanna buy one?”.
This summer, though, your paper went from 10 cents to 50 cents per copy. So not only do you have a pack of delinquents pushing newspapers in innocent commuters’ faces, but you also have instituted an incomprehensible pricing strategy as you place your saleskids next to the free newspapers.
Right now, as I enter the metro, I have 2-3 free newspaper options, all handed directly to me if I wish: the Express, the Examiner – DC Edition, and the weekly, and controversial, Epoch Times. Why would I pay a hooligan 50 cents for the same news? I can get world and pop culture news from Express, local DC news from the Examiner and then whatever else from Epoch Times.
However, I think even if you went back to a dime per paper and hired more professional salespersons, I still wouldn’t pay for the same news I can get for free one step away or online. You need to rethink both your pricing/location strategies as well as your sales force if you’re going to make a (good) name for yourself at the DC Metro.
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