Saying something often enough doesn’t make it true. And so it is with the “Print is Dead” chorus.
While there’s no question the digital disruption of the media industry has had an enormous impact on traditional publishing companies — shuttered newspaper and magazine operations across the country are evidence enough — it doesn’t come close to telling the whole story.
Truth is, there are many communities where print products don’t just survive, they thrive. That’s particularly true in parts of the Rocky Mountain West, where resort market marketing trends in mountain towns like Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Park City and Lake Tahoe prove that print advertising effectiveness is alive and well.
What’s the special sauce that makes these communities, and their print publications, different from so many others?
It starts with demographics. Many mountain resort towns are made up of a passionate mix of full-time residents, part-time residents (also known as second-homeowners), and visitors from across the globe. The strong sense of place in these premier resort destinations combined with their geographic buffer from larger metropolitan areas make savvy news publications like the Aspen Times and the Vail Daily the go-to source for news and information about the communities they serve.
Perhaps more important for local businesses looking to attract new or repeat customers, many of these mountain resort publications are distributed for free. Picking up the daily paper is as much a part of a local’s routine as pressing glass on powder days. And for the millions of visitors who flock to these Rocky Mountain and Sierra Nevada resorts each year, the print newspaper is a way to feel connected to their mountain paradise. It’s where they find happy hour specials, restaurant recommendations and other helpful bits to make their stay more enjoyable.
As a result of the free distribution model, mountain resort newspapers have incredible market penetration — more than 80 percent of adults read the paper at least once a week in most of these communities. And because the newspapers are free, they’re everywhere. Locals and visitors will find copies of the paper at coffee shops, retail stores and in racks on most corners of Main Street.
The marketing strategy message for advertisers in these communities therefore conflicts with the message in many other parts of the country. Here, newspaper advertising provides a great return on investment. And when combined with the digital advertising and marketing strategies also offered by many of these publishers, advertisers can geo-target tailored messages to website visitors who are “in market” as well as those who are “out of market” but daydreaming about their next trip to mountain paradise.