Financial Times' Battle Plan p.8

By: Joe Nicholson Tracking down thousands of rich Americans willing to pay $364 a year for business news
HOW DO YOU track down thousands of successful Americans willing to pay $364 a year for a foreign business newspaper? The British-based Financial Times will have to find out to succeed in its aggressive drive to expand its U.S. circulation by marketing its international financial reporting.
Sources close to FT's U.S. operations have provided details of methods being used to identify and target potential subscribers here.
"There are not many pieces of research that tell us where international businessmen live," said one FT official who asked not to be identified.
To find them, staffers used off-the-shelf software like MapInfo on desktop computers. They fed in census data on the Zip codes of Americans with college and graduate degrees who make above $100,000 a year, then entered FT data on locations of FT's current buyers.
The computers created color-coded maps showing "where the gaps were where we had no distribution. But the data tells us there will be a level of readership there," the executive said. Mapping pinpoints where distribution gaps exist was particularly helpful for British staffers unfamiliar with U.S. geography.
The biggest focus is New York, where circulation is 10,000, especially midtown and downtown business districts. Second is Washington, D.C., with 2,000 subscribers, many in the State Department. Special efforts are also directed at cities with circulation near 1,000: Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas and Miami.
Executives are trying to sign up new distributors while pouring millions of dollars into a multimedia promotion.
"Three years ago when I was hired, people would say, 'Finan-cial Times? What's that?'" recalled Erik Zen-housern, who served as FT's retail sales manager until he was lured away in early March by a subsidiary of the New York Times.
While distributors who handle the FT and Wall Street Journal protect client information, Journal buyers are seen as potential FT subscribers, and it was not difficult to determine which newsstands sold the Journal, and how many copies. FT is now offered in 2,850 American retail stores and 150 Canadian outlets, as well as on newsstands at major airports and upscale hotels.
Marketing focuses on cities with concentrations of international corporations.
"We're in Indianapolis, not Lexington, Kentucky; Cleveland, not Columbus; Detroit, not Grand Rapids," said Zenhousern, who crisscrossed 16 states to meet distributors.
FT also slashed prices ? single-copy and subscription (see main story) ? and bought some 400 new vending machines, some placed in unpredictable locations picked by computer- generated maps. They include 20 boxes in Arizona communities like Tempe, Mesa and Chandler.
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher April 4, 1998) [Caption]


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