By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.
How do you secure increased readership of your publication by young, media savvy consumers without distancing your older core fans?
It's a dilemma which has faced the Financial Times (FT) in recent years. But as any marketer knows, the only way to address a marketing challenge is to act on it strategically. And that's just what the publication has done.
The FT, one of the world's leading business news organisations, is recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy.
Providing extensive news, comment and analysis, the newspaper is printed in 23 cities across the globe, has a daily circulation of 411,988 and a readership of more than 1.4 million people worldwide.
Meanwhile, FT.com aims to be the definitive home for business intelligence on the web, providing an essential source of news, comment, data and analysis for the global business community.
The site attracts 11.4 million unique users, an increase of 60% year on year (ABCe figures, March 2009), generating 83.2m million page views. FT.com has over 1.4m registered users and 109,000 subscribers .
But one of the publisher's current aims is to try and find a figure that truly reflects readership, combining online and print, with a system currently being developed and audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
April 2007 saw a change in marketing tact, positioning the brand in a more accessible, contemporary way that aimed to appeal to existing readers as well attracting a new business audience, destined to be the future.
A new strapline, 'We Live in Financial Times', was created by DDB to replace 'No FT. No Comment', in a bid to leverage the central role that global business plays in the world's everyday lives.
Two years down the line and despite troubled economic times hitting media owners hard, the FT is beginning to see the results, winning around 20 awards so far this year and cementing its position as being a gold standard provider of news, comment and analysis with circulation remaining strong.
Director of Brand and B2B Marketing for the FT, Caroline Halliwell, told UTalkMarketing, "The FT audience is unique and elusive, international business people that are difficult to reach. Our challenge is to reach them and be relevant.
"With the 'We Live in Financial Times' positioning we're saying, in a world driven by business the FT gives you the edge. We never had any fears of distancing our valued readers with a shift in marketing. They know the product well and recognise the relevance of recent campaigns to the business world today."
Part of the campaign has included 'The Future of Capitalism' unveiled earlier this year. Prompted by the economic downturn it promoted content in the paper providing insight and analysis on the credit crisis.
Guest writers included former PM, Tony Blair, and former chancellor of the exchequer, Nigel Lawson, as well as former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, and former US Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson.
For Halliwell it was about much more. "The insight behind the campaign was about taking you to what's important - to be engaging , but get our message across," she added. "It was about explaining how we got to where we are, where we were going to go to from here, and the future of capitalism."
The latest push features US President, Barak Obama, appearing in a new, integrated drive. Creative poses the question 'Who does the man everyone listens to, listen to?'
The campaign draws on a remark Obama made when he was interviewed by the FT in March, making for pure marketing gold dust!
"I read the Financial Times before other people read the Financial Times. Now it's trendy and everybody carries around a Financial Times," the President said.
The FT is hoping the quote will reaffirms the newspaper's position as a must read publication for world leaders and senior business people worldwide who need to get a truly global view of business news.
Halliwell said , "President Obama telling us that he was an FT fan shortly after he took office demonstrates that some of the world's most powerful people turn to us as a trusted source of news and analysis.
"We believe our new campaign will reach out to other time poor professionals seeking to stay on top of world and financial affairs."
As well as being responsible for acting the FT's global brand guardian, Halliwell is also responsible for B2B marketing EMEA.
"I'm responsible for ensuring there is a consistent brand message so B2C marketing is used globally, but my B2B colleagues in the US and Asia are responsible for those regions, working on building subscriptions and other marketing activity," she said.
B2B marketing has been tailored to specific markets. So for example, a recent strategic mailer to media planners and buyers in EMEA was build around an 'elusive breeds' concept translated into a bird spotting theme.
It aimed to bring to life how an elusive high value audience could be reached through FT advertising, profiling readers into six audience 'breeds' in a guide, accompanied by a pair of branded binoculars.
In Asia, where the FT is not as well established a brand an alternative mailer using Bonsai trees - representing wisdom - was sent out to mark Chinese New Year together with a series of wisdom messages.
The advance of the digital platform has naturally had important implications for FT.com. The model operates so users can access three stories a month for free, to read more they have to register, and to
read more than 10 a month requires paying a subscription.
Halliwell stands by the award winning model. "The position is we don't have any problems in asking a reader to buy the paper, as the standard of the content justifies it. The same applies online," she added.
"As the internet expands , it will be interesting to see how things change. But when our content is valuable and used in daily life, we're prepared to charge for it."
Halliwell continued, "Digital is an important story for us and is a very important media channel for any marketer. There's a focus on membership marketing under our digital strategy."
Upcoming plans include a dedicated online version of the FT lifestyle magazine, 'How To Spend It'. Aiming for a Oct 2009 launch, howtospendit.com will replicate the magazine with added online value.
Videos, blogs and Facebook all play an important role too in reaching potential new readers and a younger demographic.
FT's editorial and marketing/PR team manage over twenty Twitter feeds that send out links to FT.com stories to over 40,000 followers, encouraging them to visit and FT.com and link to the stories.
The PR team also actively use the channel to communicate with the media and public on corporate announcements, such as the recent iPhone application launch that generated almost two hundred positive Tweets.)
So next time you see a student surfing FT.com, you'll know who's responsible for driving them there, Caroline Halliwell.
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