Newspapers Recover the Marketing Faith

By Beale, Claire | Marketing, June 16, 1994 | Go to article overview

Newspapers Recover the Marketing Faith


Beale, Claire, Marketing


The Indie's appointment of a marketing director may open the door to a News International/MGN marketing battle

The Independent signed up its first marketing director last week. For a brand that's eight years-old, and on a downward curve in a declining and highly competitive market, it's hardly a bold move; more like a dying man suddenly discovering the meaning of life.

The Independent's chosen candidate for the role, Paula Williams, comes from management consultancy McKinsey & Co and she takes up the challenge at a time when marketing is more than ever at the vanguard in the national newspapers' battle for readers.

The Times, for example, has seen sales rise 28%, largely through a price-cutting policy, slashing the cover-price to 30p. Yet evidence that the policy has hit owner News International's profits proves it is a marketing strategy few other publishers could sustain. Newspaper marketers are having to dig deeper into their bag of marketing tricks.

Price-cutting is only one element of the marketing mix. On its own it won't convert casual readers into loyal readers, "you have to have something else to offer", says marketing consultant Eric Dore of Oxford Communications, and one of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's newspaper experts. "Whatever marketing strategy you take, the real aim has got to be to develop a loyal readership."

Williams' appointment makes eminent sense in this context. She comes from a hardcore marketing background; she was managing director of the Covent Garden General Store before joining McKinsey's in 1992. Before that Williams worked in marketing at the Burton group and Debenhams. It's the sort of experience the Independent should have taken on board eight years ago.

The Independent has had very little marketing support, and no dedicated marketing director since its launch in 1986. Sales and marketing director Adrian O'Neil left the paper soon after it was bought by Mirror Group Newspapers, and his role has now been split to accommodate a separate sales director and a marketing director.

"When the Independent launched it didn't need to market itself because it was launched on a wave of goodwill," says Jeremy Reed, the paper's recently appointed sales director. …

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