Bottom-Line Marketing Blog

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Successful marketing emphasises audience over channel

02 May 2011 · By Scott Stines

Marketers will eagerly embrace the next "revolutionary" channel or device, but the goal should always be to understand and address customer needs.

Fast-forward 24 months — perhaps less — and the latest “Audience Channel/Device du Jour” will be introduced. Marketers will race from one side of the Marketing boat to the other side to welcome and embrace the latest and greatest “coming” that will surely shake up “business models” one more time.

With each “breakthrough” introduction, the good ship Marketing finds itself rolling back and forth, back and forth, with new “experts” taking the helm for their 15 minutes of fame as passengers and crew fight back nausea.

We are guaranteed an endless supply of Audience Channel/Devices du Jour in the future, with each bringing something new, exciting and different to the marketing table. But while the “Special of the Day” may change, the everyday menu for marketing success remains unchanged. It is based on the maxim:  “The more you know (about your customers, prospects, audience), the farther you’ll go.”

Marketing success requires us to be channel-agnostic. Regardless of the channel or device used to deliver our products and services, our relative success depends on understanding the needs of our customer (audience) and our ability to use that knowledge to change the way we do business (target, tailor, time).

Local newsmedia companies, especially those with paid home delivery circulation, are in the best position to understand their customers and audiences, and translate that information into the knowledge required for marketing success. It recognises that while each channel or device may possess unique attributes and capabilities that should be exploited, the relative success of any marketing effort — whether positioning a brand, delivering relevant content, or selling a product or service — always comes back to our ability to apply what we know about our customer, prospect or audience.

Relationships are based on the exchange of information, with the value of each exchange determining the ultimate scope and characteristics of the relationship. The information and knowledge gained from each exchange plays a critical role in establishing and maintaining a mutually beneficial (profitable) relationship. Our ability as marketers to remember, retain and apply the information gained from each exchange determines our relative success in maximising the value of each relationship over time. 

Recognition — for example, remembering my name and using it when we meet, talk or communicate — would seem to be a simple first step in establishing and nurturing our relationship. Knowing where I live (my physical address) and acknowledging our past exchanges (that I’m a subscriber, classified advertiser, contest entrant, or Web site registrant) is essential for building the value of our relationship over time. Failure to retain, remember and apply what we know — to market blindly — only serves to destroy relationships and squander their potential value for the sake of convenience, ease or apathy.

Yes, regardless of the channel or device our relevant success at marketing our products and services comes down to our ability to know and understand customer (audience) needs, and to communicate and position the benefits of our offering in relation to how they address those needs.

So bring on the “Channel/Device du Jour.” We’ll squeeze every drop of value out of the latest and greatest while we continue to focus on what matters — understanding customers — and use that knowledge to change the way we do business marketing our products and services.

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About this blog

The “Bottom-Line Marketing” blog aims to bring together the principles behind marketing with the real-world experiences of newspapers transitioning to newsmedia companies. Our bloggers are some of the leading marketers at the world’s leading newsmedia companies today, most with experiences with packaged goods and brands such as McDonald's and Disney. They will aim to show how marketing – often under-utilised in the news industry – improves the bottom line (even a baby's bottom).

Meet the bloggers

Bob Provost
Distinguished Executive-In Residence
Rutgers Business School
Newark, USA
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Scott Stines
Cedar Rapids, USA
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Geoff Tan
Senior Vice President & Head of Strategic Marketing
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
News Centre, Singapore
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