July 1, 2019

By way of introduction, I am publisher of the North Coast Journal, a weekly newspaper in Humboldt County, California. While the county is the size of some New England states, the population is small because of the remote location of Eureka, and Arcata CA. The entire county is home to 150,000 people. This area has been referred to as “The Lost Coast”, and we exist behind the “Redwood Curtain” It’s a summer vacation destination because the area features giant Redwood tress, ocean, rivers, and is a natural tourist attraction. We also have Humboldt State University in Arcata.

In addition to our weekly free newspaper, publish a quarterly tourism guide, Humboldt Insider, offering high end graphics and materials similar to what many publications of your genre offer. About 30% of our revenue comes from SmartCard for this publication.

Part of the reason that we wanted to introduce SmartCard here was to get more restaurant business. It is important to note, that the SmartCard program offers publications an opportunity to bring new business into your publications, websites, and ancillary business-like events, and opens a whole new revenue stream that is common in all markets. In short, SmartCard has made it possible for us to work with approx. 40 businesses since we launched in 2017. Most of these businesses are restaurants because the margins are good for everyone. (We can discuss this at any time to provide more detail).

The bottom line is that in 2017, our first year with SmartCard, we did nearly $170,000 in a partial year. In 2018, we did $182,000 in net revenue, and are on track to do that and more in 2019. Again, the SmartCard revenue is from businesses that we didn’t already have as regular advertisers. SmartCard has provided us much needed new revenue and has made all the difference in allowing us to grow in an ever-changing media landscape.

We have a data base of over 4,000 users. This user group ensures that all our trade is being purchased and we are constantly adding more businesses to keep up with consumer demand. Again, we are a small market, so our potential is not nearly what a larger market can offer.

We structure our advertiser agreements such that even if a merchant receives all agreed upon advertising and we still have credit left from that merchant; we continue to sell that credit until it we use it up. So far, we have not had excess inventory.

We include alcohol purchases at restaurants for two major reasons:

1) We want the user to have a hassle-free experience at the point of sale. Purchases are inclusive of alcohol and beverage purchases. This provides for an efficient single transaction between the merchant and the consumer.

2) Most restaurants operate at approximately a 30% margin for cost of food and beverage. This is what they pay for their ads. Most restaurant owners understand that paying 30% for ads instead of 100% of the ad cost makes sense and provides them regular consistent advertising. Plus, we don’t have to send out invoices and that is a real benefit to our company. No collections or late notices makes everyone happy.

Since SmartCard is a separate transaction from the POS system at any merchant, it is up to the merchant to integrate a key on the POS to record transactions or record a transaction code on physical paper tabs.

Merchants can see real time transactions a couple of ways.

1) Every time a transaction happens, the merchant will receive an email notification listing the transaction, the name of the customer, and the transaction code for that transaction.

2) The merchant can log into their SmartCard merchant account and see every transaction in real time and a history of transactions.

The SmartCard database is fully equipped to provide concise information and is constantly being upgraded as new technology emerges. We are using version 2, and version 3 is just around the corner.

I hope this has been helpful. I am available at any time to discuss how we made this program a success and continue to reap the benefits. Please call me anytime for further discussion at 707-845-9933 or email me at chuckleishman@gmail.com.

Chuck Leishman
Publisher of the North Coast Journal
Humboldt County, California