Groves: Circ Directors Need More Urgency

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By: Jennifer Saba

For the most part, newspapers have had the luxury of not having to push hard on marketing and branding. Publishers, of course, have steadily employed telemarketing, direct mail and other tactics, but according to recent presentations made at the International Newspaper Marketing Association Circulation Summit in Las Vegas, when compared with other industries, their track record on marketing is tepid at best.

“Most newspapers tend to dominate their market,” said Miles Groves, president of MG Strategic Research. “When you’re doing so well, it’s hard to justify spending money on [marketing]. My concern is that newspapers have strong local brands but they won’t stay strong forever.” Not only do papers need to market themselves, but they also need the tools to make heads or tails of demographic data. “Just having a subscriber database doesn’t help get new readers,” he said.

With declining circulation and the fact that circulation directors have been hamstrung by the national do-not-call registry, many papers are starting to take notice of the importance of marketing and branding. “There’s more of a sense of urgency. You know when you’re going to have a test on Friday and you wait until Thursday night to study,” Groves said.

Groves advises circulation directors to think of their job similar to that of mutual fund manager, where they have to look at the marketing mix in terms of retention. Where do papers get the most orders and how long can they hold on to that reader? According to Groves, newspapers should maintain a household marketing database, consumer research designed to support segmentation strategies for acquisition and retention, and channel development and advertising support.

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