TargetCom Hits the Bull's Eye With Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune named direct response agency TargetCom, Chicago, agency of record this week as it moves to expand its readership.

“We have made several improvements during the past couple of years that may not be as obvious to infrequent readers,” said Brent Katzmann, director of marketing communications at the Tribune. “Direct marketing can help us communicate the value these sections, columnists and improvements bring to new audiences.”

He said TargetCom understood the need to communicate the newspaper's value as an information product beyond price and premium. He said the newspaper experience is different today and prospective customers need to be reminded about how much they'll get from a Tribune story. “I think it's something we've been inconsistent in communicating in the past … we have to identify more of the areas of content that might motivate people to become subscribers. It's a challenge because you have to go about articulating the value of spending your time on a particular media.”

At TargetCom, Lou Bart, director of ideation, agreed with Katzmann that much work was ahead noting that newspaper readers today are busier and more sophisticated about news.

“Chicago is a very unique but changing newspaper market that now requires more integrated marketing with an increased focus on targeted campaigns by region.” According to Bart, readers today are looking for something in their daily newspaper that represents their lives and speaks to them as individuals.

“In the past, things were very broad, very mass,” he said, adding that some neighborhoods will get a higher frequency of mailings than others.

TargetCom said it will create more segmentation within the overall direct mail program, which makes up about 70 percent of the paper's direct marketing efforts. There will also be sales promotions and events. Primarily, though, the agency will employ its “one-to-some approach” using different campaigns with different targets that communicate a particular kind of relevance to prospects based on feedback from existing customers and what they enjoy about the Tribune.

In research groups, Bart said, participants were most focused on relevance. He says that TargetCom will be focusing on communicating the “relevances” to the reader's life overall.

“You really have to think about how the newspaper fits into consumers' lives,” he said. “That's the challenge. This isn't just about increasing newspaper subscriptions by thinking in terms of technical direct marketing words like acquisitions and attrition. We need to think of customers as people with certain [perceptions]. If you want to change people's behaviors, you have to change their attitudes. You do that by focusing on the relevance the product offers to their lives.”

TargetCom is a full-service direct response agency known for developing Relevance Marketing, its own dialogue building concept formulated to help companies increase communications to customers and prospects. TargetCom's clients include Bally's, Sears and Spiegel. The agency also operates bang!zoom, San Francisco, and etelligence, St. Louis.

The Chicago Tribune has been publishing for 150 years.

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