Madeline Stamm

Sometimes it Makes Sense to Charge for News

There’s a difference between target market and target audience and you will need to distinguish the two if you’re going to have a successful startup company.

If you’re a sales representative selling children’s books, your target market is children from the ages of 4 to 10 years old. Your target audience will be parents and grandparents of those children as well as the children in that age group themselves, teachers of that age group and the schools where those teachers work. More on this can be explained by watching the YouTube video Target Market vs. Target Audience.


Once you think you have your target market, you may need to dig deeper to find your niche. In the Inc. article How to Define your Target Market, targeting a niche market is said to be more effective and efficient to begin your startup rather than marketing to everyone and their neighbor.

There’s important information to understand while you think about your target market and target audience. Especially with small businesses, which can go up against their competitors by targeting a niche market of a select few instead of everyone. However, this doesn’t mean you’re leaving people out or offending anyone by not including them in your target market.

In order to clearly define your target market and not waste time marketing to the wrong people, here are some tips:

  • Look at your current customer base. Who are they and why do they buy from your company?
  • Check out your competition.
  • Analyze your products/services. All of your services or products should benefit your consumers in a certain way. Your brand image should be professional, so that consumers trust in your product.
  • Choose specific demographics to target (age, location, gender, income level, occupation).
  • Consider the psychographics of your target market and audience (personalities, attitudes, values, lifestyles, behaviors).
  • Evaluate your decisions. Do you fully understand your target market and target audience?

According to the New York Times in Crazy Idea for Funding Local News, Facebook is now promoting local news stories in its news feed and taking away more national news. Why? Mark Zuckerberg’s explanation was that he wanted more people to get involved and that when people see advertisements, they become more aware of what’s happening around them.

Is adding more local news stories a good idea for Facebook? We know Facebook struggles in the political aspect of digital news with clickbait and fake articles being shared by thousands of people who believe in speed and a good headline over accuracy.

I like the idea of one or two reporters focusing on the local news, the unique and rare stories that leave readers with a more personal touch about what’s going on next door instead of across the world.

What if a business asked readers to pay $5 or $10 a month for a newsletter on local news? I personally disagree with asking people for real money in order to receive content because they can just go get it somewhere else for free, unless they can’t and your content is exclusive.

Well, Jessica Lessin made just that: exclusive content. For $399 a year, businesses, CEOs, higher-ups, important people or anyone who wants to pay can get inside scoops, analysis and stories on the tech industry through her newsletter, The Information. Most of the people who pay for this news either work in technology or finance or run a business in relation to those and are looking for intelligence in their field.

What makes Lessin credible for this in order for businesses to pay this much for her subscription of two to three stories a day? She spent eight years at the Wall Street Journal.

Not only does The Information give people business intelligence and inside scoop into the tech industry, but it also serves as an opportunity for networking and brings people in the same fields together as business partners. It creates a community.

One way news companies can think about targeting their markets more carefully is working with the company Piano, which NiemanLab recently featured.

Piano’s CEO Trevor Kaufman says newspapers had to learn early how to understand loyalty and provide readers with substance and value. Kaufman is also pleased with Facebook’s decision to decrease the amount of news content on the news feeds.

Kaufman says he thinks there will be “a lot more innovation from publishers when it comes to new product development” in the future. He also notices that three years ago, it was unheard of to pay for news. However, today he is getting much different responses from people.

“There is no media business without a relationship with the consumer,” said Kaufman. He explained that people need both quality of information and quality of entertainment from a business. In order to get information and entertainment quality, millennials are more likely to pay than boomers.

Millennials vs. Boomers… who will win?



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