Advertising manager Susan Hutchinson discusses the opportunities and challenges of 2019

MEETING THE DEMANDS: How has print advertising changed in the last year? What are the new challenges advertisers face? Susan Hutchinson answers these questions and more. Photo by Thomas Calder

What was the most exciting new initiative your department introduced in 2019?

Two things compete for this: The introduction of the Asheville Field Guide and the beginnings of a membership support program. Both initiatives are designed to fill the gap created by a decline in traditional advertising revenue.

What were advertisers looking for in 2019?

Many businesses are seeking cost-effective ways to reach the river of tourists that flows into Western North Carolina.

Which special issue or theme resonated most with local businesses this year? 

Best of WNC continues to be the granddaddy of all themes. Our spring and fall nonprofit special issues come in second. The Home Style issue was a new product that was successful this year.

What was the greatest challenge for Xpress’ advertisement team in 2019? 

The ways local businesses are marketing themselves are rapidly changing, and many clients are trying other platforms.

2019 continued the trend away from traditional advertising. The pressure for media operations to sell content continues to mount, leaving operations that don’t sell content — like Mountain Xpress — at a financial disadvantage. We also indirectly feel the pressure businesses experience as they stretch their budgets to accommodate search engine optimization and sponsored posts on Facebook. More and more businesses are paying savvy marketing staffers to write alluring press releases in lieu of buying advertising packages. Of course, without the advertising that supports editorial content, those press releases won’t be able to reach their intended audiences.

A less obvious challenge is the changing nature of printing: Increases in the price of paper have led to the use of thinner stock, which changes how the ink sits on the page.

What might surprise the community about your department?    

We haven’t raised our regular weekly advertising rate card in over 15 years. We are a noncommissioned sales staff. We believe in teamwork.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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One thought on “Advertising manager Susan Hutchinson discusses the opportunities and challenges of 2019

  1. Marsha Barber

    Hilarious and yet somehow predictable that Susan Hutchinson became the “advertising manager” of this hot mess.

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