Several years ago I started a newspaper with to fill a need in my businesses advertising. The immediate result from this paper, and its continuing growth and success year after year, has changed my entire concept of how I view local marketing. 

For the last decade my company had advertised to get noticed at the world’s largest gem and mineral show which happens once a year in my home town, Tucson Arizona.  Almost every hotel in town and the convention center is either a show venue or a respite for the thousands of buyers and sellers who descend upon our town.  My business provided specialized services, rentals and supplies for the hundreds of dealers and buyers who come to these shows.  The trick for us had always been directing merchants and collectors into our store to see our showroom full of products.

For years we had been placing ads in the conventional printed show guides and printing our own flyers. The ads had become quite costly over the years. The books got larger and our ads were literally buried in burdensome publications. Although this was definitely our niche market, we were not being seen. The flyers helped, but since the “flyers” were multiple page booklets that we copied, they too became too expensive to produce the quantity we needed. With the tens of thousands of people who come to the shows we were only distributing 250-400 flyers, to keep in our budget, and this was just a drop in the bucket.

Then I discovered two Tucson businesses using in two very different ways. The first business was printing newspapers for shoe sales and doing a direct mail campaign. The second business, a local “business” newspaper, also printed by, was a paper that read like a newspaper, with local businesses creating their own advertorials and paying to be in print.

I truly did a double take--why couldn’t my business have a newspaper for distribution during the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show! It was literally four weeks before the show when I started thinking this through.  I knew that my competition at the shows was heavy four color directories which contained the show information i.e. dates, times, dealer information, and four color ads. I wanted people to read about our store but I knew they would need more than our information in the paper to get them to pick up a new publication.

Since the show focus is gems and minerals, I asked several of our customers who were mineral dealers if they wanted to publish articles that would include photos and their show information, basically we would be sharing the cost to print 10,000 newspapers. My job was to take their articles and photographs, create a layout, and place the papers out for distribution at the shows. I also left space in the paper for some place ads for local businesses. These ads paid for my portion of the paper.

I was amazed, not only had I increased our exposure, but I had paid for the entire paper by sharing the costs. Our advertising budget for the gem and minerals shows which was  $2000-$5000 per year had cost me nothing but my time and effort!

2014 is our fourth year in print, the paper has grown from 8 to 16 pages and 15,000 copies.  The “Tucson Mineral” is now its own entity and is actually a profit center for me.   I now have dealers asking to be in the paper.  Each year we saw an increase of in-store traffic during the show and the other contributors are also seeing traffic from their articles.  Here is a quick overview on how I approached my paper.

1. I gave the show attendees a free lightweight article based newspaper with current information  to read as an alternative to the heavy show publications. Each dealer (small business owner) talks about what is new in their business, new products and what makes them unique (special services, etc). Since this is a timed event, I include their show information and their year round contact information.

2. The newspaper gives the show dealers and local businesses a fresh approach and a lower cost advertising vehicle with a more readable format, and a higher distribution for a fraction of the other show directories.

3. Now that has an eNewsletter format that is totally private (i.e. no external ads or links to other publications), we will have an even greater impact on the gem show market year round. truly changed my advertising paradigm. I am now also creating an e-catalog using the “eNewspaper” format that I use with my website and all social media. Thank you!

To other small businesses good luck . . . if I can do it so can you! 

Sincerely, K.Gatchell. of Tucson

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