One of the easiest of all businesses to establish, publishing
shopping center papers– CAN MAKE you very rich–almost as fast
as finding gold, or inheriting an oil well.
Revenue and profits come from two main sources: The businesses
in the shopping center your paper serves, and the people reading
the paper. It doesn’t matter that there’s already a « Shopper’s
Paper » in your area, or that you know nothing about the
publishing business and don’t own a printing press.
The first thing is to understand the specific needs of your
market. The stores, shops and businesses in the downtown area
advertise to reach all the people, and thus, they’re hurting from
the competition of similar stores, shops and businesses in the
neighborhood shopping centers closer to where the people actually
live. Yet, these shopping center stores, shops and businesses
ONLY SERVE CUSTOMERS LIVING WITHIN A 5-MILE RADIUS OF THEIR
So, the thing to do is organize a plan, and then work that
plan. Contact the store owners or managers of the stores in each
shopping center in your area.
You can include stores or shops and businesses not in the
shopping center itself, but clustered within the same immediate
area. However, it’s important that your emphasis be placed on the
individuality of each shopping center.
Explain to each of these business people that you’re starting a
« shoppers paper » that will carry advertising only for businesses
in that particular shopping center. With this kind of « local
advertising media, » the competition, nor have to bear the
advertising costs of city-wide circulation.
The second selling point in your distribution or circulation
system. Take a section of your city street map; draw a 5-mile
circle around each shopping center; then take it to your local
quick print shop, and have him give you several printed copies
blown up to twice the original size.
Then as you’re selling each business owner, show him the
shopping center location on your map with the 5-mile circle
around it. Explain that your door-to-door distributors leave a
copy at each home or apartment within that circle only. This
means you’ll have to estimate how many homes or apartments are
within each shopping center’s customer circle.
Getting your papers out to all of these homes and apartments
needn’t be that big a problem. Simply talk with the 7th and 8th
grade counselors at the schools within the service circle.
Arrange to pay the counselors $15 per thousand papers delivered
for you. The idea is to get the counselors to line up the
students to do the delivering for you, and pay them a percentage
of the total you give him. The same plan can be worked with boy
scout and/or girl scout troops. You might even contact the youth
organizations at the churches within the service circle, and
propose your delivery operation as a fund-raising project.
At the bottom line, the businesses gathered in or near each
shopping center will buy advertising space in your paper because
your rates will be cheaper; you’ll be carrying advertising for a
specific location only; and your distribution will be direct to
their customers only.
You can begin, and handle all phases of your business operation
single-handedly, but after the first couple of editions, you’ll
make much more money by hiring others to do the selling for you.
Simply run an ad in your weekend newspapers, promising big
incomes to commission type advertising sales people. Word your ad
so that those interested call you on the phone.
When they call –get their name, address and phone number. Then
explain that you’re looking for just a few top-notch go-getters
who can handle several thousand dollars a week in advertising
commissions from individual merchants located in neighborhood
shopping centers. Ask them to tell you a little bit about
themselves, and then invite them to get acquainted meeting in the
banquet or meeting room you’ve reserved in a local restaurant or
motel. Give them the time, and date, then tell them you’ll see
them at the meeting.
As the meeting, show them a prototype or dummy of one of your
papers. Tell them they’ll each be assigned a territory that
includes 3-shopping centers. You then explain/teach them the
reasons why there’s big money in shopping center papers just as
I’ve explained to you.
Explain your advertising rates—$10 per column inch for a
press run/circulation of 5,000; $15 for 10,000 and/or $20 for
15,000 copies distributed—and that you pay 50% for each sale.
Each paper has room for $1,400 worth of advertising as a single
8 1/2 by 11 sheet printed on both sides; double that for an 11 by
17 sheet folded in half; or 4-times that much as two 11 by 17
sheets. Multiply the salesman’s commission of &700 per paper
times three for each of them to make $2,100 per week–assuming
that you publish your papers on a weekly schedule.
Remember, your basic idea should be to create an individual
« shoppers paper » for as many different shopping centers as
possible. Because of the closeness of prospective advertisers in
a shopping center, a good salesman will be able to sign all the
stores in at least three different shopping centers in a week.
Once you’ve explained the marketing philosophy behind your
papers, and the money potentials available, you should have all
the eager salesmen you care to sign on. Remember, each sales
person is assigned 3-different shopping centers–you give him a
dummy of your paper for each of his shopping centers, with the
space availabilities marked–send him out to fill those spaces
with paid advertisers–and you’ll both be home free!
Whenever possible, ask for and get your money up-front or at
the time of the sale. In many instances, this won’t be possible,
so you’ll need some sort of standard contract. A short visit to
your local community college advertising department, or your
local public library for a look at a few instruction books on how
to draw up a space advertising contract, will give you a form to
copy and use as your own. Billing your advertisers at the end of
30-days will bring in lots of sales, but it will also require a
bookkeeper/secretary and statements as well as letterhead
envelopes and postage.
Allowing your advertisers to buy now and pay later will also
require that you allow your salesmen to « draw » against the
commission they have coming. This too will present some special
problems, namely a need for operating capital. Most of the time
you’ll be able to sell or factor your accounts receivable for
about 80% of the total due. When you do this, you’ll be giving up
another 20% of your gross income, but you will have immediate
cash available. The thing you must do is weigh your operating
costs against the overall benefits and make your decision based
upon these factors.
The design, layout and production of your paper should be quite
simple. Visit a local stationary and/or office supplies
store—pick up a blue printers pencil, some larger transfer
(rub-on) letters (either 60-point or 72 point size should be
sufficient for your needs), and also–pick up a pad of « fade out »
graph paper and a roll or two of border tape.
Use the rub-on letters to print or write the masthead or title
of each of your shopping center’s papers at the top of the graph
paper. With your border tape and razor blade, make a U-shaped
frame around the page, a half inch in from the outside edge of
If you’re getting started from your « kitchen table, » and using
a typewriter, make sure your type is « elite » or the small type.
Now, measure the inside of your frame from the bottom of your
masthead to the top of your border tape at the bottom of your
frame; and from side to side, measuring from the inside edges of
your border tape along the sides. You should end up with a space
9 1/2 inches deep by 7 1/2 inches wide.
Take these measurements to your local print shop and ask them
for the dimensions of a space 30% larger. This should amount to a
space 10 3/4 by 13 1/2 inches–so ask him for some 11 by 14 inch
paper. Scrap paper that has a clean backside will do quite
With your blue pencil, lay out a frame 10 3/4 by 13 1/2
inches–then divide the 10 3/4 width into seven equal columns.
Run the paper into your typewriter and type out the classified
ads you have set. If you have a camera ready ad that’s too large
for your regular column dimensions, paste it into position on
this sheet. When you have this page all « written » or pasted up,
take it to your printer and have him reduce it to 70 % of its
current size and run off a couple of copies for you. Cut out this
reduced copy and paste it inside your master frame, add any
proper sized camera ready ads and you’re ready to take your paper
Almost all shopping center papers start out as one page
circulars printed on both sides, and put together on the « kitchen
table » as I’ve described here. Working alone and trying to start
from scratch, you probably won’t have all your available space
sold when you go to press. If this is the way it works out for
you, simply fill in the empty spaces with ads of your own.
Promotional ads inviting people to call you, for example, for
ad rate information, and to place their ads.
Also, some of your better mail order offers. In order to give
the impression of lots of ads from lots of different people,
enlist the help of your relatives and friends–allow them to
advertise a For Sale or Trade item free. It’s important that you
seemingly have ads from a lot of different people with lots of
different phone numbers and/or addresses listed.
For these classified ads, you should charge $1 per line, and
hence, the name « dollar Papers. » Don’t forget, your second source
of income will be garnered from people who have seen or read your
paper, and place ads of their own as result.
Once you’ve got separate pages–a front and a back–for your
first paper ready, simply take it to your quick-print shop and
have run off the number of copies you’ve promised to circulate
for your advertisers. Have him print it on yellow or orange 20
pound bond, or even recycled construction paper.
Until you really get rolling, you can hire a couple of kids to
hand out your papers to everyone as they drive into the shopping
center parking lot, drop off a stack for check-out stand
giveaways at each store or shop in the shopping center, and/or
persuade a couple of newspaper carriers to include one with each
newspaper they deliver. Another fast hand-out method is to hire a
student to give one to each bus rider as he gets off the bus at
busy « park and ride » locations.
As your shopping center papers become known, you take on sales
people to do the selling for you; when you have more space to
handle the requests for advertising space, contact a larger
printer who works with web presses and news-print paper. Look
around, and you’ll find one who’ll handle all your typesetting,
layout, printing and even bulk delivery to your distribution
pick-up points. Expanding to tabloid production will lower your
production costs, give you greater efficiency and result in more
profits for your business.
Where there is really tough competition, many publishers of
Shopping center Papers include stories about the shopping
center—what the land was used for before it was developed as a
shopping center—profiles on the different store owners, where
they’re from and what they did before opening their store or
shop—and news of community interest within the customer circle.
Many increase their incomes by running mail order opportunity ads
from dealers in all parts of the country.
Basically, shopping center paper is the same as a mail order ad
sheet. The big difference is that it serves as an advertising
showcase for a small circle of merchants in a specific area, and
is circulated among the people most likely to do their shopping
in that specific small circle of merchants; each circle has a
need for an advertising showcase of its own, and it will be to
your benefit to turn away advertising requests from merchants
outside that circle.
The only advertising you’ll have to do is via the quality and
image you project with each issue or edition of your papers.
There are a number of popularity-building promotions you can, and
should run: Free ads for baby sitting and/or child care services;
$100 worth of free groceries if the shopper spots his picture or
name in your paper; and free merchandise or service for solving
picture puzzles. Don’t look for much free publicity or help from
newspapers, radio and/ or TV stations in your area–at least, not
until you’re very well established, because you are in direct
competition with them.
As mentioned earlier, this is an easy business to organize,
requires no special education or training, and will pretty much
perpetuate itself once you’re beyond the start-up stages. The
important thing of course, is the opportunity for at least one
such paper in even the smallest communities. The profit potential
in even small to medium-sized cities is almost beyond belief…
You have an idea, and I’ve provided the organizational details
to make it work for you— it’s working very profitably for a lot
of entrepreneurs in a number of locations around the
country—the only thing missing now, is action on your part. get
with it, and start enjoying the fruits of your own success!