The Oklahoman has served the Oklahoma City market for more than a century. So when it came to people recognizing the brand, “You would expect we’d be top of mind,” said Charles Mayer, vice president of marketing. “But at the end of the day, we were not top of mind.”
After conducting a comprehensive research survey in early 2015 that included six focus groups with subscribers, non-subscribers and canceled subscribers, the Oklahoman conducted online and telephone surveys to better understand its overall brand health in the community. They discovered brand opinion and purchase consideration for non-subscribers was fairly low.
“It was eye-opening for us,” Mayer said. “It’s not that we don’t have a quality product, this is a newspaper that wins lots and lots of industry awards for creativity and editorial excellence…but when you don’t go out and tell consumers that you’ve got a great product…you’re not going to be top of mind.”
To combat that perception, the Oklahoman marketing team used a traditional consumer marketing approach and invested in a media budget. Then, they brought in 20 readers, community partners and advertisers that interacted with them on social media, and filmed video testimonials to create the Oklahoma Unfolded campaign. After initial testimonials were shot, Mayer said readers who had participated recommended friends, family and colleagues to be featured as well.
The testimonials include three channels: a reader channel featuring current subscribers sharing the benefits of reading the newspaper; a community involvement channel with testimonials from local businesses and people sharing how the Oklahoman has helped the community; and the third channel featured advertisers talking about the benefits of advertising in the newspaper.
Overall, the Oklahoma Unfolded campaign raised the paper’s unaided awareness by 41 percent, aided awareness increased from 93 percent to 95 percent, brand favorability increased by 33 percent, and purchase consideration among younger prospects nearly doubled to 87 percent, with more than 1,500 consumers visiting the paper’s subscriber portal. Not only that, click-through rates on digital ads reached .17 percent and email click-throughs reached 10.72 percent. Mayer said they used Google Analytics and UTM tags to track traffic and email executions. And they’re still gathering surveys about brand ratings.
Even though the campaign initially launched in August 2015, Mayer said they’re just getting started. The plan is to continue to roll out more video testimonials in the future.
“When everybody is facing an incredibly challenging situation like the newspaper is, you’ve got to get to know your customer and how your customer thinks and what they think about your brand,” Mayer said. “You’ve got to know what your perceived strengths and weaknesses are, and promote your strengths and get to work addressing your weaknesses.”