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Usa Today Marketing Strategy

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a. What opportunities in the marketing environment did Gannett seize in launching USA Today? What unmet benefits are added and what value is created for the customer by USA Today? Gannett was brilliant to seize a great opportunity to niche market news. True to the definition of niche marketing which seeks to understand and meet the needs of a target customer so completely that the despite the small size of the niche, the segment is extremely profitable (Ferrell & Hartline, 2011, p.170) Gannett was very thorough in his desire to appeal to achievement-oriented males in professional and managerial positions who were heavy newspaper readers and frequent travelers (Ferrell et al, 2011, p.502). He understood that the needs of this group were evolving and that there was an opportunity to change the formatting of news so that it could be more easily digested and embraced by this set of men on the move. Specifically, he noticed that attention spans were increasingly growing short and there was a growing desire for more information (Ferrell et al, 2011, p. 502). Further he noticed the ability to target Middle America which differentiated him from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

There were a variety of unmet benefits that were addressed by USA Today and its value was immediately apparent by skyrocketing sales that immediately graced this paper. For instance, by changing the formatting so that information could be more easily and quickly absorbed by readers, readers could more efficiently catch up on a wide array of news while needing a smaller attention span and less time. In addition, by reducing the size of the paper, USA Today made it more convenient to read while in the confined space of an aircraft. It also bridged the gap of information provided by its two main competitors by also reporting on pop culture and sports. Another manner in which USA Today created value was by selling the paper via “blue-chip” circulation to hotels, airports and the like who then provided it complementary to its customers. I, myself, have been trained to look forward to the copy of USA Today that is often waiting for me outside my hotel room in the morning. i. Answer the same questions for USAToday.com.

In 1995, when USA Today online launched (Fennel et al, 2011, p. 507), Gannett again saw an opportunity. This time Gannett saw an opportunity to address the need to counterbalance rising distribution and promotion costs. The online version was considered a companion to the paper itself and was yet another way to add value by giving the consumer another avenue to late breaking news and information via USA Today’s unique and well-received format. This avenue also addressed that original need recognized by Gannett to get more information and fast as possible. Since its original inception, the website has grown to include may added values to readers. For instance, archived articles are now available which is an incredible plus for students such as myself. They also added a travel site which is a great extension of services to a customer base who is regularly on the move. Blogs, RSS, podcasting, zip code sorted information, relevant local advertising links, and the ability for consumers to add content are all other very effective benefits of USAToday.com (Fennel et al, 2011, p. 508). Most recently another benefit which adds wonderful value to our technologically advanced world is the ability to access USAToday.com via apps on one’s smart phones.

b. How has the continuous strategy of marketing innovation proved successful for USA Today and USAToday.com, given the segmentation of their market and the perception of the customers’ experiences? Do you believe that USA Today is well positioned and has properly segmented for the future? Explain. Since its inception the strategy of marketing innovation has proven very successful for USA Today and USAToday.com. With an almost immediate rise to the number one best-selling newspaper in the country, this point is clearly made as customers have clearly shown their response with continued purchases and site visits. Gannett has proven to be extremely skilled at forecasting trends and speaking directly to them via new services or offerings. Customers embrace the formatting and the style of delivery. Over time, the style has developed to include more coverage of significant news events however due to intense competition by other suppliers of similar information, USAToday.com is likely to struggle a bit. For instance, I rarely if ever seek out USAToday.com because I get quick snippets of news via Yahoo which is my front page. Because I can easily glance at what is going on in the world via this avenue, I don’t have the need for USAToday.com.

Should I have find that there is late breaking news that I want to follow such as the recent Boston bombings, then I will go directly to a news channel type site such as CNN.com. I believe this type of scenario is not uncommon for internet users so I would suspect that USAToday.com will need to create continually new concepts that will allow them to successfully utilize differentiated marketing. In regards to the paper itself, I feel that USA Today has done a great job in segmenting itself. Unfortunately, this segmentation may not serve them as well into the future as it did in the past due to our ever changing world. Specifically, this paper has seen a decline in business due to a slump in travel, slowing traffic at the airports and hotels where it makes many of its single-copy sales (Vanacore, 2009). In fact, this decline coupled with The Wall Street Journal’s efforts to step up their marketing strategies has resulted in a drop of USA Today to the number two best-selling paper in the country (Ferrell et al, 2011, p. 511).

Further, while the demographics segmented originally by USA Today was the male business traveler, trends have since shown that online readers of USA Today are very closely divided between men and women. Consequently, Gannett would be likely well served to acknowledge this discrepancy and adjust the content of his site to more effectively meet the needs and interests of this new audience. c. What strengths and opportunities can USA Today leverage as it looks for a competitive advantage in the distribution of news and information, given the perceptions of customer values and the benefits of world event news and global information? USA Today has quite a bit of leverage as it looks for a competitive advantage. For instance, its ever evolving business model is a significant strength that will carry this concept well into the future. Having a corporate environment that already knows how to embrace chance is a huge benefit in this ever changing world. In addition, there is already a perception that USA Today is looking to more effectively deliver news to a reader who is increasingly short on time. This association will serve USA Today well as this information overload is likely to increase.

Further, with all of the advances in neuroscience and the new understanding of how the brain processes information, USA Today could position themselves even better by using this knowledge to create delivery methods that speak to the science. Another possibility for USA Today is approach some of the more detailed information provided by the Wall Street Journal but with their own formatting style. Just as the Wall Street Journal as begun to add more lifestyle information to compete with USA Today, so too could USA Today add more corporate analysis. Currently, top business minds tend to remain loyal to The Wall Street Journal because of its relevancy to this segment. USA Today could offer a more heady version of its news for this group. Further, USA Today, while selling more physical papers than The Wall Street Journal (Vanacore, 2009), is behind on internet traffic. This too is a benefit as it gives USA Today an area on which to focus. As many online readers are younger, perhaps USA Today could create an online version that appeals to Millenials and kids.

Clearly, USA Today has several opportunities to move forward and if I were a betting girl, I would place my money on the fact that USA Today is likely looking into these opportunities and many others. d. Based on USA Today’s experiences with print and online news and the need for customer relationship management in an increasingly crowded market, evaluate the long-term potential of printed news and the newspaper publishing industry given their current customer relationships. What aspects of CRM do you think USA Today will have to be most attentive to? What recommendations do you have to improve CRM for USA Today?

This is an interesting question. Customer relationship management requires the organization to look beyond the transaction that occurred today to look at the long-term potential of a customer (Ferrell et all, 2011, p. 356). USA Today has done just that but must continue to do so. As mentioned in our text, the purpose of CRM is to move customers from having a simple awareness of the firm and its product offering, through levels of increasing customer awareness to the point where the customer becomes a true advocate for the firm and /or its product Ferrell et al, 2011, p.357). In my opinion, USA Today can do better in this area. For instance, while I thoroughly enjoy reading the copy of USA Today that is outside my hotel room when I travel, I have never made the connection to having this paper delivered to my home.

Similarly, I have never considered looking them up on the internet. Consequently, although I am aware of their product, they have not completed the cycle of turning me into an advocate for USA Today. In contrast, I am a true advocate of Nordstroms and Krispy Crème Donuts. Another area of CRM that could be improved upon by USA Today is a clearer focus on the change in buyer and seller roles. The new focus on collaboration suggests that USA Today should consider going back to its customer base to determine how they can best turn these customers into advocates. Given the chance to directly influence the content and services provided by USA Today, customers will gladly assist USA Today with its growth. Further, as people who are asked to help a cause tend to be more dedicated to the cause, this alliance will further benefit USA Today. USA Today will also need to maintain their perceived quality and even improve upon it via ensuring that the core product is solid. Reviews of their customer service performance must be stellar. All contact points within their organization must understand that they are delivering the USA brand and message so their interactions must reflect accordingly. Further supplemental products must continually evolve so that value is continually added to the core product.

Ferrell, O.C. & Hartline, M. (2011). Marketing Strategy. Mason, OH: Cengage Vanacore, A. (Oct 14, 2009) Wall Street Journal Overtakes USA Today As Biggest Newspaper In US, Huff Post Media. Retrieved April 26, 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/14/wall-street-journal-overt_n_320759.html

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