Monday, May 01, 2006

The Telegraph Sweetens The Deal

You shouldn’t accept sweets from strangers but last weekend a lady from the Telegraph was quite persuasive.

Maybe it was the personal touch that persuaded me but, having just written that newspapers should stop giving away free DVD’s if they want to save themselves, I felt compelled to fall for the bribe.

The costs of DVD give-aways are described by media commentator Roy Greenslade in this BBC NEWS article: "How can papers afford to give away DVDs?"

"Knock-out 10,000 DVDs and you're looking at maybe 34p each; 100,000 at 25p each, half a million at 23p each. So when you get into the millions, which are what the tabloids sell, it's even less."

Having paid for their discs the papers have to add on top of that the licensing of the film which can vary from £50,000 to 250,000 and to entice their new readers they’ll need a TV advertising campaign – which also costs an arm and a leg.

The day after publication the editor is left hoping that new readers are persuaded by the print content of your newspaper to stick with you forever.

So a bar of chocolate must cost either a similar or lower amount and has to be better bang for bucks than a film we have all seen before.

Maybe the Telegraph has listened to Kim Fletcher’s new approach to the reader/customer relationship in his Guardian article: "If newspapers were more like supermarkets" ... (free registration required)

"If Tesco were running newspapers, it would be finding out exactly what its readers were up to, where they bought their paper, how often, what they liked and didn't like and what might make them buy it more."

Although I am not a fan of supermarket style and practices I can see his point. There is a natural tendency to accept your loyal shoppers for what they are and concentrate your resources on the new ones: never expecting the regulars to leave.

So here I am, doing a Sunday morning shop in an out of town shopping centre (sorry Gaia) and I am being asked if I want a free bar of Lindt Extra Fine Dark chocolate.

I still bought my regular paper but as I love dark chocolate and was interested in what the paper had to offer: soft or hard centre? Would the content compliment the free offer? Any chocolate stories inside? Would I be able to win a lifetimes supply of this bar? I bought the Sunday Telegraph

So a bit of valuable market research had been gained: man buys paper when offered free chocolate.

More interesting information was being collected across town where a relative of mine was also being offered this sweet incentive. Her response was to decline the offer.

At this point she was asked why she didn’t want it. Her reasons for not buying the Sunday Telegraph were that Saturday’s is big enough and lasted the whole weekend.

So no need for a Sunday paper but this exercise is personal giveaway proves its worth because you can gather valuable market data. In the case the telegraph’s Sunday sales will be improved by a smaller Saturday paper. But what can Sunday’s editor do about that?

This chocolate experience goes hand in hand with conversations I’ve had with Jenny, my partner, about alternatives to DVD giveaways, especially if your prospective new reader is a middle income woman.

We’ve come up with some obvious ones: from free samples of tights and perfume to airline style wash bags filled with luxury samples. One exclusive idea was to have the whole paper covered in a pleasant scent.

But whatever you give away, the personal touch – someone actually handing you the gift - is going to be the most valuable because you can target the customer in the flesh, whilst gaining strategic information from their reaction.

No comments: