Guaranteed way to get new customers

Everything I know about getting new customers I learned from clients

   Phil Barone who founded the Mill Stores taught me the only guaranteed rule to get new business.

When the fish are all gone, you need another pond

By Walter Brooks

After many decades in marketing including giving countless lectures at media conventions all overAmerica advising peers on how to do their selling and promotion, I must admit that the only foolproof method I discovered for attracting new customers was given to me by one of my clients.

"The money is always out there - only the pockets change."It was from Phil Barone who started the chain of successful unfinished furniture stores called Mill Stores  in Harwich many years ago.

I used to call on Phil when I worked for several different newspapers and magazines starting with The Cape Codder in the 1970s, MPG Communications in the 1980s, and for my own Best Read Guides in the 1990s both here and elsewhere in New England.

When I was working for a newspaper, Phil would buy pages of advertising for a year or two, then stop using whatever newspaper I happened to be working for at the time.

Phil grew from one store in Harwich to 14 in the region, see locations here.
After several years and a couple newspaper jobs, I started Best Read Guide, but this time Phil kept running ads long after the usual period, so I asked him why.

Phil's "new customer" theory - it works

Phil told me that every newspaper he advertised in had a "static" number of readers, in other words, he was reaching the same potential customers with each ad, so after a while he had sold unfinished furniture to everyone possible in that newspaper's readership, and vacation magazines like Best Read Guide have new readers every edition.

Since Phil always used a coupon or other device to test results, he was able to move on to another publication or medium as the results began to diminish.

That was then - This is now!

If that was true back during the glory days of the newspaper industry, think how more true it is today when newspapers on Cape Cod and elsewhere have half the circulations and market penetration they had in the past, see graph below.

Cape Cod's local daily has dropped from over 60,000 daily circulation to 46,000, and the weeklies have fared as badly. Newspaper readership has fallen for the last three decades, and today only 15 percent of Americans under the age of forty still read a daily newspaper. That was 85 percent in 1940.

Then this Spring online news readership went ahead of newspapers.

You probably know why this paradigm shift occurred - it was caused by the meteoric growth of the internet and the explosion and ease of using online shopping on newssites like the ones on See the poll results which showed over half our readers shopping online or a combination of bricks and clicks.

The World is Flat - and so is Cape Cod - The Good News and Bad News

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The good news for businesses which promote on the web is that online advertising costs but a fraction of the cost of print, and online is the only form of advertising which has completely traceable results for them as well.

Couple this with the fact portals or newssites like this one are on a significant growth track adding new readership by double digits every year. An example is the real-time list of readerships shown on the right side of our homepage called "Most Popular Posts."

The bad news is that newssites like this one are stuck at "what the market will bear", and advertising rates for web portals cannot rise to anything near the levels of print, while providing better results for clients, until there is further deterioration of the print industry and marketers are more aware of the added values of online marketing.

If you are one of those businesspeople who are reluctant to move into the future, consider this warning from that famous news-hen Clare Booth Luce, "The money is always out there - only the pockets change."

Newspapers continue their 20 year drop in circulation

This 20-year view shows a steady slide in paid circulation.  Daily circulation, which stood at 62.3 million in 1990, fell to 43.4 million in 2010, a decline of 30%. Sunday circulation held up slightly better, falling from 62.6 million in 1990 to 46.2 million last year, off 26%. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on