Nationwide campaigns still need a local touch

The local press should not be underestimated. New media trends must incorporate not ignore its influence to be effective.

Fragmenting markets do not necessarily mean that the newest media are the best. A traditional form may still be the most suitable. The local press provides a perfect opportunity to add weight to a national campaign at grassroots level and is flexible enough to allow for different needs in different locations. However, the medium needs to be organised in a more intelligent way.

Talk about adopting an integrated approach is all very well, but packages need to be put together creatively between agencies and clients. This is crucial when a retailer is looking at targeting messages for individual branches in different catchment areas.

Clients rely on advice from their agents, and agents in turn need a broader knowledge of available media. But, this does not absolve clients from keeping abreast of the latest developments in media.

This is where the regional press needs to work at promoting itself and letting clients and agencies know of the improvements and innovations that have been taking place to make producing a high quality campaign easier. The regional press’ core competency of local knowledge needs to be fed through to the agency and in turn to the client.

This local knowledge should never be underestimated, and local papers can play a vital role in developing the sales of national brands by specifically tailoring messages for various catchment areas.

However, when it comes to a nationwide campaign it is still more cost effective to use nationals supported with additional weight in the local press for tactical messages. The regional press needs to show how this situation can be improved.

Adding to the fragmentation of media, another emerging trend is the way retailers are becoming media owners themselves. Dixons and Freeserve is an obvious example. There are a whole range of media opportunities opening up and advertisers need to consider the whole mix when planning a new campaign, whether it is a local radio campaign or establishing a brand on the Internet.

All the new media opportunities opening up do not mean the regional press will be excluded – it is still as desirable a medium as ever but it must market itself intelligently and establish its position as an integral part of the new segmented approach of customer communication.

For example, one of the next steps at Boots is instore interactive kiosks, allowing us to market directly to customers. Tailoring an individual service like this is only possible if you know your customer well. This is possible if you spend time and investment acquiring that level of knowledge.

The Newspaper Society, the trade association for local papers, is running a campaign, called Creating New Perspectives, aimed at boosting the medium to other advertisers and agencies. The campaign, which I was part of, shows how the sector recognises the importance of a consultative approach and of investigating and assimilating what customers really want. The sector can then use that knowledge to deliver a well-honed service in tune with its customers’ needs.

David Clayton-Smith is director of marketing at Boots the Chemists


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