Strategic Marketing Plan for the Guardian Newspaper

2688 words (11 pages) Essay

15th Jun 2018 Business Strategy Reference this

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1. Introduction

Unlike any national newspapers, the Guardian can divide readers’ opinions. It can provoke feelings of contempt in critics, who might think its publications of the world to be satisfied and smug. On the other hand, loyal readers claim that their favorite newspaper could have alternative, critical and argumentative viewpoints, which are unique, distinct and separate it from its rivals. Many Guardian supporters continue to believe that their morning newspapers are essential in a way that no other articles would dare to challenge. However, in a globalization environment and with a modernized technology platform, brands should beware of being beached.

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Marketing activities of the Guardian were mainly relied on price and supporting special editions a decade ago. ‘The paper’s marketing department is planning an extensive operation to generate trial of the newspaper by Guardian faithfuls to secure an extra 40,000 readers. The first redesigned issue was available for 10p to Guardian readers and use will also be made of The Guardian’s database to direct mail 80,000 of its readers.’ [1] Additionally, the strategic plans have not yet been successful for the past years. The Guardian feels that it should be the natural Sunday choice for Guardian and any other liberal left readers in the market and it is testimony to the success of the newspaper. Nevertheless, there are still grounds to make up.

2. Strategic marketing plan

2.1. Technological innovation – Diversifying its targets

The Guardian has tried to reach as many domestic and international consumers as possible. Many agencies have created a brand campaign in order to reflect the multi-media presence of the Guardian. It has remained innovation to adapt to the new business environment by continuously changing. In 2006, the newspaper’s marketing director Marc Sands has mentioned ‘If you aggregate the changes we’ve made over the last two years, such as the decision to print news stories on our website before they’ve appeared in the newspaper, you’ll see the direction we’re moving in.’ [2]

All good media brands should measure and publish across brand perceptions rather than just the number of circulations. Likewise, the Guardian has ensured its brand to increase its market shares globally. Its sales team has been able to inform their clients that the newspaper brand could help them buy across many platforms, not just the ones who are interested in reading newspaper. It is working with the industry and looking at different brands and measurements to enhance both sellers and buyers of advertising to have different platforms for different kinds of currency.

‘The newspaper’s branding has been attached to numerous technological advances in delivering content across a range of platforms. These includes the group’s blog site Comment is Free – already one of the world’s top 100 blogs according to technorati.com – and G24, a regularly updated printable version of breaking news for commuters to read on the journey home.[3]

Additionally more competition has happened. Through its own research, the Guardian has found out that ‘it is perceived as worthy and dull by lapsed readers. Those between 18 and 35 find it old-fashioned, tired, lacking style and too conservative. Over the past ten years 40 per cent of all readers under 35 have deserted the newspaper with female readers providing the greatest hemorrhage – 50 per cent have dropped the paper.’ [4] As a result, the Guardian should diversify its market segmentation and try to divert perceptions of the consumers in its strategic plan.

To continuously promote the articles to a target market of 18 to 35-year-olds, the Guardian should ensure that the future newspaper can provide appropriate advertising contents to attract target group to sell to advertisers. Decades ago, ‘This is partly down to the fact that the Saturday Guardian is a good product and its readers don’t feel the need for a Sunday.’ [5] Furthermore, it should concern the lack of loyalty in the Sunday newspaper market, since the Sunday vouchers has been dropped during promotional campaign. As part of its attempt to stay ahead of a future of declining newspaper sales, the rise of number of obsessed youth and throwaway free newspapers through online contents should consider.

2.2. Relaunching strategies – Agency promotion

Another strategy is promoting the brand through free newspaper with DVD and CD. The breaking-news market has been grounded in term of content, volume, target and the frequency of the quality press. Their high growth approaching method will bring with more strategic leverage, not just with DVDs for posh papers.

“Our relaunch strategy was all about encouraging people to reappraise The Guardian.” says Richard Furness, circulation manager for Guardian Newspapers. “The two free DVDs on consecutive Saturdays did just that – we enjoyed our two highest-ever sales in the history of the newspaper, and our subsequent Saturday sales show that many have stuck with us.”[6]

Traditionally, newspapers used to facilitate the line with primary sales promotion tools that help to be hit in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) market. Since entertainment becomes a major decision for consumers to purchase a product, DVDs can lead to the right strategy to implement.

“It’s an expensive but extremely good tool.” says Dermot McPartlin, director of PD3, the agency that handled The Guardian DVD push. “Essentially, the relaunch was a sampling exercise for the new product. The films that were used had a great synergy with the paper’s brand values and broad consumer appeal.” [7]

Over the past few years, due to the impacts of the World Wide Web, big newspapers have tried to transpose their brands onto the web. The obvious advantage of the online facility is that the internet can enable marketers to ask readers to register, and as a result, their customers’ concern can be responded quickly. The two-way dialogue could be promptly done and help build a meaningful relationship. When media can be effectively transferred their brand value online, demographics are essentially different from the newspapers with traditional hard copy delivery.

Due to the lack of commitment on the part of print publisher, the online content is usually less well thoughtful. Additionally, print publishers have a print view of pricing, which might inhibit the realistic cost per response. Most print publishers have tried to stick to the standard rate. In fact, the newspapers have paid as little of the supposed price; but consumers have not yet realized that they have been overcharged for their online equivalents.

However, the Guardian might be not the first title to adopt this template. ‘Heeding the large proportion of ads on newspaper web sites bought as part of cross-media campaigns, the Audit Bureau of Circulation has launched what it calls a Group Product Report, which aims to simplify the process of choosing a cross-media campaign by outlining the audited number of a newspaper’s print copies, its web site’s page impressions and the footfall of any related exhibition.’ [8]

The Guardian has made enormous efforts to provide compelling contents to cover all areas. To prove that the Guardian has been committed, will succeed and are succeeding, it should be more popular, both in domestic and international regions.

2.3. Facilitating banners

Brand owners need to adjust their internal culture in order to persuade their customers that they have been reborn. They have different degrees of success in adapting when the ground moves beneath their feet. However, cultural difference for a big brand, like the Guardian which has a strong worldwide impact, can cause a steady and slow procedure, rather than a prompt fire remedy. The Guardian seem trapped in its culture, hardcopy print, producing innovative information, but still seems unsuited to a new technology trend, the World Wide Web.

Coy about the exact revenue Guardian Unlimited is pulling in, Waldman says: “Our revenues are growing very rapidly in all areas of the site, and through all types of advertising from banners and buttons through to e-commerce partnerships and sponsorships.” Elaborating this point, Guardian Unlimited’s commercial development manager, Helen Mayor, says: “Increasingly offline sales teams like ourselves are looking to mirror the developments and integrated structure of the agencies involved in buying traditional and online.” [9]

Using both digital and print in a cross-media campaign, the Guardian has tried to run an aggressive competition. The inherent conflict between the media buying community and the promoting sales can cause difficulties to implement. The sales operations in a large organization is gearing up for a cross-media sell, while the media buying operations have focused on expertise in dedicated media division, which specializes exclusively in online content for planning and purchasing. Many media agencies have established their interactive departments in response to what they have perceived, rather than what the real demand could be in the market.

The Guardian is to yield to commercial pressures and make people register to visit its Websites. The Guardian, which last week unveiled details of a staffing revamp in its new media division, is to introduce registration on its revamped Websites. The move is intended to improve its appeal to display and classified advertisers.[10]

The Guardian sales team has determined that although many uncertainties have existed in the marketplace, the Internet is still a relatively new medium. The bold strategic framework to take first step to integrate into both media will help the sales teams feel confident with both media. These strategies might question the competence of the agencies in order to understand and properly facilitate the web as a media channel distribution.

3. Proposals

The Guardian has created more original content than any agency in town and has led the way in online publishing. The question is not just about the internet media channel, but the growing part of the Guardian brand. ‘It’s hardly surprising, because every day in the UK some 13.5 million national papers are sold, which could easily mean over 20 million people read them. Yet, if predictions from Jupiter Communications prove correct and US trends wend their way to the UK, online advertising will outstrip magazines or radio by 2005.’ [11]

Additionally, the Guardian brand management should not think that consumers as people to be targeted, but people to be engaged to work for the brand. Increasing fragmentation, differentiation and proliferation of media channels are arising trends in consumer sovereignty, gained through internet technology. Consumers are establishing their own channels if they could get anything in return, such as customizing products themselves, entertaining and exploring their own world, expressing their voices, knowledge that they are buying social responsible products, or simply just saving their time, creating most convenient means for them; they are willing to pay for and work for that brand.

With that concept in mind, the successful brand of the future will be most productive and efficient to facilitate the mix of consumers-employees relationship. Agencies will consider themselves as consultant for brand, which help recruit and engage consumers for ideas, dialogue, gaining consumers’ consents as well. As a result, the Guardian’s research and measurement will need to gain clear insights into the consumer-brand relationship as well as understand the value of consumers-employees.

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With the current technology trends, consumers can find faster and cheaper ways to get information. In fact, news publishers are challenged to engage and fulfill consumers’ expectations. Thus, the following proposals can help the Guardian engage consumers to ‘work’ for its brand.

3.1. The Guardian should increase C2C (consumer-to-consumer) business and reduce B2C (business-to-consumer) interface. The Guardian should facilitate the concept ‘the word-of mouth’ among key consumers. It should consider ‘consumers as media’.

3.2. It should have more content and dialogue and less advertising. The strength of a dialogue involves mental disciplines. Thus, these dialogues engage the customers to think and to work with the Guardian’s staff to complete the message. This strategy might fascinate the customers to promote message from the Guardian.

3.3. More emotional media should be involved in the circulations. Obviously, the more touching and vivid a story will be, the more likely it is to be remembered. The future will be in branded contact that consumers can choose to involve themselves in voluntarily, as a part of the Guardian. In this environment, the share of employment will be a major impact, not just the share of their voice or raising their opinions.

4. Conclusion

Galvanizing itself ahead of technological and social trends is not easy, especially for iconic brand, which tends to navigate in cultural system that defies change. However, without successful product innovation and such progress, the Guardian could risk itself of being cast adrift. Ensuring and enhancing a brand is not just simply washed up the changing tides of technology and society. This is also a key strategic framework, which the Guardian has facilitated.

Reference list

Kavanagh, Michael 1998, ‘Guardian joins in registration game’, Marketing Week.London, vol.21,no.24, 13 August,p.32

McCann, Paul 1995, ‘Observer strives for fresher image’, Marketing Week, London, vol.18,no.25, p.22

Scott, Jon 2000, ‘Do newspapers deliver online?’ Marketing,London, 21 September,p.43

The Guardian: Thinking ahead’ 2006, Marketing Week,London, 24 August, p.24

Thornton, James 2006, ‘Do quality and giveaways mix?’ Promotions & Incentives. London, January,p.25

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Footnotes

[1] McCann, Paul 1995, ‘Observer strives for fresher image’, Marketing Week, London, vol.18,no.25, p.22

[2] The Guardian: Thinking ahead’ 2006, Marketing Week,London, 24 August, p.24

[3] The Guardian: Thinking ahead’ 2006

[4] McCann, Paul 1995

[5] McCann, Paul 1995

[6] Thornton, James 2006, ‘Do quality and giveaways mix?’ Promotions & Incentives, London, January,p.25

[7] Thornton, James 2006

[8] Scott, Jon 2000, ‘Do newspapers deliver online?’ Marketing,London, 21 September,p.43

[9] Scott, Jon 2000

[10] Kavanagh, Michael 1998, ‘Guardian joins in registration game’, Marketing Week.London, vol.21,no.24, 13 August,p.32

[11] Scott, Jon 2000

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