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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, Mar 18, 2015 8 min read

Is Inbound Marketing Contributing To The Decline Of Traditional Media?

New And Improved NewspaperInbound marketing is a constantly evolving methodology, and it requires you to be constantly challenging the status quo.

During a run the other day, I noticed the daily newspaper sitting on a number of my neighbors' driveways. Take a look at the image here. Notice the bag that the newspaper was delivered in, announcing the new and "improved" newspaper. Funny when you hear it like that, right?

Since I don’t get the paper and didn’t want to borrow one from my neighbors, I don’t know exactly what’s new and improved. I did attempt to find out via a number of searches online, but nothing came up for any relevant search terms. That sounds like a problem right there, yes?

What I did find was the following: In an article titled, “The Long Fall of Philly Newspapers,” the author referenced a document called Interstate General Media: EBITDA Trend – 2000 to 2012. It reveals how the finances of the newspaper imploded over that time period ("imploded" was their word, not mine).

Here’s what’s interesting:

  • That total advertising revenue  the financial backbone of the papers  dropped by three-fourths over a dozen years, plunging from $465.5 million in 2000 to just under $113 million in 2012.
  • That circulation revenue  the money contributed by the audience in the form of subscriptions and single-copy sales  fluctuated a bit, but ultimately fell precipitously from $118 million in 2000 to $81 million. (The Inquirer’s actual circulation fell even more quickly  from 373,892 copies a day in 2002 to 166,104 during the most recent audit in May.)
  • All of that had an effect on the final product: Labor expenses  including journalists  dropped from $243 million in 2000 to $135 million a dozen years later.
  • Even with such cuts, the papers went from a $145.8 million profit in 2000 to losing more than $5 million in 2012.

Why even mention this? I bring up these facts because the decline of a traditional media outlet like the hometown newspaper is a direct symptom of the dramatic change in buyer behavior. The inflow of alternative marketing strategies, like inbound, are reshaping the way we market our businesses. As CEOs, business owners and even VPs of Marketing, we need to start looking forward and stop looking back. Don’t give me a new and improved newspaper; blow the whole thing up and start again, with inbound in mind.

Information Is Self-Service

The web transformed how we get information, how we pay for it, its value proposition and the model associated with it. Today, I don’t need to have all of my information delivered to my front door in a dirty newspaper. I don’t have to walk outside to get it, and I don’t have to pay a monthly subscription for it. Everything comes right to my phone, delivered nicely and neatly, the way I want it – and for free.

I select the type of news from the news source I trust and tell the service how to deliver it to me. There’s no way for a newspaper to compete with this, no matter how new and improved it is today.

Advertising Is Interruptive

Even the online newspapers still rely on the old model. The beauty of what I have is that it comes without interruptions, without ads. Technology has enabled us to opt out of almost every kind of advertising. I don’t watch TV commercials, I don’t listen to radio commercials and I don’t see banner or pop-up ads on my laptop, phone or tablet. DVRs, satellite radio and ad blockers have enabled me to achieve the ad-free environment I’m looking for, seamlessly.

Advertising Is Expensive And Ineffective Comparatively

To further clarify, we don’t hate all forms of traditional marketing, but we are looking for new, highly efficient, results-oriented marketing tactics that drive leads, and most of the traditional stuff just falls short. To be even more specific, if your marketing goal is to simply “get your name out there,” then yes, advertising is the perfect tactic.

But most of the businesses we talk to have much deeper goals. They want to drive leads, they need active sales opportunities and they want marketing that’s accountable for results, not simply reporting on impressions, market awareness or brand equity.

When you compare what inbound marketing delivers for its cost to what traditional advertising delivers for its cost, you get a very dramatic story. While I wouldn’t call inbound a cheaper alternative, it’s a much more accountable, measurable, real-time and scalable approach to marketing.

Inbound Marketing Has To Drive New Media Opportunities

Is the newspaper industry going to survive? Many people are unsure that it will. Here’s an article from the Harvard Political Review on the future of newspapers in America. One thing is for sure: If it’s going to survive, it’s going to have to embrace inbound. Most specifically, the old, interruptive ad revenue model is going to have to be replaced with a more proactive, results-oriented model through which content drives engagement. That engagement is translated into value for potential advertisers, and those businesses that are paying the media outlet get visitors, leads and revenue in return for their investment.

This isn’t science fiction. This type of approach is being piloted and trialed in a variety of places. Platforms like HubSpot that make it easy to quantify the results also make it easy to measure the performance of content and convert that performance into revenue for the outlets.

If you’re still doing traditional marketing, you have to stop trying to force your message with traditional media, which people have already started ignoring. While it might be comfortable for you, easy for you to explain to your board or easy to feel good about when you produce ads or brochures, it’s not working like it used to. The sooner you move on, the sooner you’ll start to see real results from your new approach to marketing.

Start Today Tip – Today, there are so many places where you can start your education on inbound marketing. While our website has many, many resources, other sites like HubSpot and, as well as other inbound agency sites, are more than happy to help you with the transition. Reach out to people who’ve already had success with inbound and who have made the transition. There are businesses in all industries and of all shapes and sizes that now use ONLY inbound to drive leads into their business. While we are early on in our evolution to inbound, it’s quickly becoming one of the most efficient, effective and results-oriented marketing methodologies on the plan.

 7 Undeniable Reasons Your Enterprise Needs Inbound Marketing

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolutions!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.