Our monthly Inside the News column gives editors and managers at the Deseret News a chance to communicate with readers about anything on our minds. It offers me the opportunity to discuss what I do as director of marketing at the newspaper.
As in any business, the traditional tasks of a marketing manager are to help plan and implement the product concept, which includes pricing, promotion and distribution. From this starting point, it's easy to see how the the four P's of marketing developed: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.Often the key to a successful marketing program depends on how the manager organizes, relates and combines these four elements to create value and to fill the wants and needs of the newspaper's customers and prospects.
A bible of the industry, called "Strategic Newspaper Marketing," calls this function the "marketing mix."
Well, enough from the textbook; what do I really do?
Basically, my job is to retain the readers we have, and to get more of them. One way we do this is through advertising; perhaps you've seen our current TV commercial featuring Dear Abby and her suggestion on how to become more interesting and better informed. Her advice is simple: "Read the paper."
Other things we are involved in are commonly referred to as "promotions," and the Deseret News has an enviable track record of associating itself with worthwhile community-relations events, such as Sterling Scholars, the Utah Symphony Salute to Youth program, Santa's Helping Hand, etc. Our community relations director has already written about these activities in his column, so I don't need to elaborate.
What's more difficult is to relate each of these to a marketing tie-in. It's fine to do these wonderful things, and I'm sure there is appreciation felt towards the Deseret News for what we do do, including the significant financial contributions we make.But do these activities get people to read the paper?
The answer would have to be "sometimes."
Perhaps relating the thinking behind a promotion we sponsored Saturday will help shed some light on what I'm talking about.
Cineplex Odeon was ready to open Utah's largest movie theater complex, South Towne Center Cinemas in Sandy. The discussions started on how the Deseret News could both participate in the opening and promote our movie critic, Chris Hicks.
We decided to have Chris pick some of his favorite movies filmed entirely or partly in Utah and invite our readers to see each movie for free.
The concept sounded good, so we selected the date, the movies and began the advertising.
Chris, who has an incredibly loyal following, wrote a few stories and we ran ads in the paper. Additionally, we used some of our radio time to direct listeners to the ads. You see, the only place the "free" coupon appeared was in the ad, so you had to read the ad and cut out the coupon, which only admitted one person. We told our loyal subscribers which days the ads would appear, so if they wanted to take their whole family, they could watch for the ad and clip it out each time it appeared.
At this writing, the promotion seems tremendously successful. We had all the elements: something free, something fun and something for families. Plus, it gave us a chance to advertise Chris Hicks and introduce him to more of our readers. If they know him, chances are we'll build greater loyalty, and our readers - and hopefully some who don't read us as often - will turn to him for movie reviews more frequently in the future.
So, how do we assess the success of our marketing efforts? By the bottom line usually, the numbers of readers we have. Obviously it's a long-term proposition and one that takes a commitment from the company.
We believe our efforts are working and worthwhile, and the adage remains true: "It's not enough to build a superior mousetrap, someone also has to tell the world why and how it's superior and why they should buy it."
That's my job at the Deseret News, and it certainly helps to be able to market a mousetrap that is superior in every way . . . the Deseret News.