News media companies have unique opportunity with digital TMC products

By Lynne Brennen

New Leaf Media Consulting

Montclair, New Jersey, USA


When we think of total market coverage (TMC) products, we think print.

Shoppers. Untargeted due to operational constraints. Old school.

News organisations can take advantage of existing assets to develop the next generation of TMC products, online.

Companies can and should use marketing tactics via all digital and print channels.
Companies can and should use marketing tactics via all digital and print channels.

Over the past few years, news organisations have invested in online marketing and campaign management tools to help grow print and digital subscriptions. These digital capabilities, whether they are hosted, in-house, or through strategic partnerships, provide online portals for subscriber management and engagement; e-mail and campaign management for real-time, targeted communication; SEM support; and e-commerce functionality.

With some organisational alignment, these same marketing tools can be used to create a digital TMC product, just more targeted, efficient, and effective.

Typically, subscription marketing tools are housed within the circulation department or audience development. Two problems arise from this:

  1. Have you noticed that the most digitally savvy employees are within the advertising or media departments, and the coolest digital marketing tools are within the circulation or audience development departments? The people don’t align with the tools, and all of the back-and-forth requests for support or stepping on toes result in inefficient processes.

  2. While this isn’t the case for all in the news media industry, the lack of alignment among technology, people, and processes for many publishers seems to be creating an opening in the advertising marketplace.

Companies like Yodle are tapping into the demand of small businesses seeking digital marketing services; those same small businesses were heavy classified advertisers back in the day.

Fortunately, these digital marketing service providers don’t have the all the offerings of a print and digital news organisation, with its rich content and trusted audience of readers, viewers, and listeners. Nor do these firms have a tradition of TMC, a heritage of seeking to own a local market.

Opportunities arise when existing online subscription marketing tools and digital expertise are consolidated into one functional group tasked with the responsibility of using those same marketing tools to acquire and engage subscribers and to provide ubiquitous digital marketing services for small and local advertisers.

Several benefits can be derived from this consolidation. First, the investment in subscription marketing assets is more fully utilised by applying them across the pursuit of circulation and advertising revenue. Second, in some cases, marketing staff redundancies can be eliminated to either subsist on fewer marketers, or the savings can be reinvested in higher paid, digital professionals.

Some publishers have moved in this direction with partnerships and marketing services divisions, but that level of investment need not be a barrier. Any news organisation with a multi-channel subscription marketing toolset can create digital TMC products, and not just one-off digital marketing support for advertisers.

A 360-degree marketing campaign that surrounds people can be devised to engage local audiences and literally drive traffic to advertisers’ doors — be it click or brick.

About Lynne Brennen

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