Dallas, TX (PRWEB) June 11, 2008
If newsstand sales are any measure, the biggest story that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times during the month of April wasn't about the war in Iraq, the presidential race or even the economy. It was about the $25,000 a lucky Sun-Times reader had won playing the paper's recently launched Scratch2Win game.
"The excitement the story generated was huge," says Willie Wilkov, Senior Director of Promotions and Marketing for the Chicago Sun-Times News Group. "We sold a lot more single copy newspapers in the city of Chicago that day and we had a really big week in terms of paper sales. Web hits were also way up. It definitely resulted in strong business for us."
With newspaper sales sliding nationwide, newspapers such as the Chicago Sun-Times and New York Daily News have turned to attention-getting big money promotions to drive newsstand sales and develop a following among new readers. Both papers have found a solution with the Bingo-style Scratch2Win games provided by SCA Promotions, a promotions firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
"We were looking for something that would drive continuity of purchase over a six-week period and also reinforce our digital properties," notes Wilkov. "What we liked about the Scratch2Win game is that it required only one game piece to run each week - which reduced the cost and minimized the risk - but still required people to come back to the paper every day to find out if they had won."
"The promotion was fantastic," he adds. "And during the six week period, we had three $25,000 winners."
The `New Millennium Bingo' for Newspapers
SCA Promotions Vice President Peter Ford, who has created hundreds of newspaper promotions, says the secret to a successful campaign boils down to two key factors: a big-money prize that generates excitement among readers; and a component that encourages repeat purchase. For these reasons, Ford says the Scratch2Win game -- which he calls the "New Millennium Bingo game for newspapers" -- is ideal.
"This game helps both broadsheets and tabloids boost newsstand sales, but because tabloids live by single copy sales, it is especially good for them," notes Ford. "They can advertise it directly on the rack box; and because the promotion forces people to purchase papers daily in order to see if they have won, it immediately boosts sales."
While the promotion is customized to the newspaper's unique goals and budget, Ford says the Scratch2Win concept remains the same. A large, full color game card featuring eight games - one for each day of the week and a bonus game for the insert day - is inserted into the participating paper each week the promotion runs. Each Scratch2Win game features between 10 and 15 numbers hidden behind scratch off material. Ford says newspaper readers need only to obtain the weekly game card and then watch for the five Scratch2Win game numbers that are printed in the paper each day. To play, they simply scratch off the five daily numbers on the corresponding game to reveal the $ amounts hidden behind them. Any game card with three matching $ amounts is a winner.
If desired, Ford notes that newspapers can also incorporate an online component. In the case of the Chicago Sun-Times promotion, each weekly game card featured a six-digit alphanumeric bonus code. If the bonus code matched one of three alphanumeric bonus codes featured and rotated daily on the Chicago Sun-Times web site, the card holder won a bonus $500.
Big Prizes Key to Success
Ford says the game's popularity among consumers is due, in part, to easy-to-follow instructions and the instant win component. But he stresses that it is the prize itself that generates the real excitement.
"We know that big prizes really increase the success of the promotion so we always advise that," says Ford. "But it doesn't have to break the newspaper's budget. Promotional risk coverage enables the newspaper to pay a fixed cost that is much less than the actual prize amount being offered. When a win occurs, SCA Promotions pays the newspaper so it can award the winner the prize amount."
Ford says that in addition to driving sales and readership, the Scratch2Win promotion can be used to spotlight and drive readers to certain sections of the newspaper such as sports, travel and fashion. By doing so, he explains, newspapers can drive readers to sections they wouldn't normally visit. He says it also opens up numerous opportunities for sponsorships from advertisers, which helps offset the cost of the promotion.
Once the paper has decided on the framework for the promotion, Ford says his company takes care of everything - from designing the game, to handling the promotional risk coverage, to overseeing the printing and insertion of the game cards, to tracking the game card information, to handling fulfillment and customer support.
"When there is an online component, we will facilitate that as well  all the way down to capturing customer lead info and providing it to the paper on a daily basis," adds Ford.
A Win/Win Solution
Catherine Scalera, Director of Consumer Marketing and Promotions for the New York Daily News, says her paper has implemented the scratch promotion numerous times because it has proven successful at increasing both Sunday and weekly newspaper sales.
"You are looking at a business where every paper across the country is declining in circulation, so to see some sort of an increase - that's huge," explains Scalera.
Scalera, who, like Ford, believes big money awards are critical to success of the promotion, notes that her paper has awarded prize amounts as high as $1 million. She says the excitement the money prizes generate among readers is contagious.
"I remember one woman who won - I wouldn't say she fainted, but we definitely had to find a chair for her," says Scalera.
"Promotions are very important, which is why the Daily News leads our market in promotions," she adds. "We find them helpful and effective - for achieving our circulation goals, for rewarding our customers, and for benefiting the advertisers in our newspaper."