Times adopts ‘braver’ marketing approach

The Times is attempting to be “braver” and “more confident” in its marketing approach as it looks to drive subscriptions.


The strategy will include more long-lead PR and social media campaigns to promote upcoming content and other brand activity to its readers, despite this potentially giving its rivals a tip-off as to what might be appearing in The Times and Sunday Times and when.

It will also mean the News International quality titles will rely less on above the line media such as TV and radio and instead make more use of its own channels, including social media for its brands and journalists, its databases, communications to subscribers, partnerships and in-house media space.

Suzi Watford, marketing director of The Times and Sunday Times, says the titles are so focused on driving subscriptions that above the line advertising is not always necessarily the right way to attract potential long-term customers.

She adds: “We need to be braver and make sure we don’t always go for paid elements and make the most of all our existing channels – we were sometimes guilty of being more led by our own marketing requirements.”

“We’ve realised [The Times and Sunday Times] properties are so well known that we should be more responsive to customers’ needs and give people a heads up as soon as possible about what to look out for, particularly those infrequent readers who might not have seen a campaign the previous week or day before.”

An example of the new strategy in action includes the recent campaign to promote The Sunday Times Rich List, which this year omitted TV for the first time in favour of PR and social media activity.

The approach helped The Sunday Times paid-for iPad app edition featuring the Rich List on 29 April register more than 14 million page views, News International claims. The Sunday Times’ audited print circulation figure for April grew 2.91% month-on-month to 955,248, although the title is still down 6.18% year-on-year.

The campaign also saw the launch of the first Rich List branded Facebook game, which was developed by News International’s digital hub. The hub was created last year, bringing together technologists and marketers in order to turnaround digital products more quickly across News International’s brands.

Watford says: “We’ve learnt we’ve got to talk multi-channel as we’re now promoting to a much wider audience. There will be a lot more coming out of the digital hub in the next year.”

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