Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Competing in the Year 2004: Database Marketing Executive Offers Some Advice to Newspapers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Competing in the Year 2004: Database Marketing Executive Offers Some Advice to Newspapers

Article excerpt

TO BE COMPETITIVE in the year 2004, newspapers should avoid focusing solely on technological advances, Barbara Mowry, president and CEO of the Mowry Group, a database marketing company based in Long Beach, Calif., said during a recent Newspaper Association of America meeting.

Instead, during the next 10 years, newspapers should emphasize the creation of mutually beneficial relationships with customers (both readers and advertisers) to "make business decisions that translate into competitive advantage," Mowry said during the NAA's research and market development conference in San Diego.

A fundamental task will be to determine the primary role of newspapers. Mowry noted that while many papers simply consider themselves "newspapers" eventually they must redefine their roles as "information resources" from both an "editorial content and advertising information point of view."

Traditionally, newspapers have functioned as mass media -- the paper was delivered and everyone read pretty much the same thing, Mowry observed. By 2004, newspapers will offer different advertising and editorial information to different types of readers, she said.

The critical transition from "newspaper" to "information resource" will come only after much self-examination and a massive investment in people and information data.

While newspapers have invested mostly in process improvements such as new printing plants, in 2004, papers will invest heavily in "information infrastructure" and marketing data about customers. That will lead to significant integration of existing operational systems as well as new marketing systems, used externally as well as internally, to help newspapers become key marketing partners with advertisers, Mowry said.

Newspapers will retain their traditional readers (older, affluent, stable), and because of additional products and information, they will attract nontraditional and younger readers who are comfortable with the new technologies, she said.

"The bottom line is that from a reader point of view, [newspapers will] very much understand from a traditional marketing point of view what our customer segments are and what their needs are," Mowry said. "[Newspapers will] become a marketing-driven, customer-driven organization that has started with the customer needs and the customer segments and then has designed products and services to fill that need. …

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