A Marketer's Lens: Print is a key force in our marketing mix

Domain chief editorial and marketing officer Melina Cruickshank
By Domain chief editorial and marketing officer Melina Cruickshank | 18 January 2017

A version of this article first appeared in The Annual 2016 as part of The PhotoEssay series.

One of the toughest and savviest operators I have met in business is Katie Page. She laughed when I recently mentioned I’ve replicated two elements of her marketing strategy. Build in−house capability and use print to build brand and enquiry.

The in−house capability is common sense. It’s something I set about creating when I started at Domain two years ago where I head up two national divisions − editorial and marketing. The divisions work hand in glove reaching audiences through the creative power of content.

We have in−house teams who manage our editorial, performance, digital, social and video channels and it’s working. We reach more people than ever before via print and digital and have over a million users on our social media platforms. The in−house capability means I have great trust in the metrics. In a world where external reporting is inconsistent and struggling to keep pace with a platform−diverse economy, our own metrics are core to making the smartest decisions. Trust in metrics is so key for me because I place enormous faith in the numbers and recommendations my team put forth.

The second strategy, the use of print as a key marketing channel, is a little different. As someone who has built a career on the digital publishing side of Fairfax, the fact I am now openly embracing print as a key force of our marketing mix has been a serious shift for me. I admit it – for many years I have viewed print as being too hard, too expensive, too old fashioned.

But, over the last two years I’ve been fortunate to have had access to the premium print advertising solutions in the The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review. I am literally blown away each time with the response. It’s real. Not only is print an effective branding tool, it drives Domain tangible digital growth − app downloads and social/online usage consistently spike when we use tactical messages in print. Combine that with our TV sponsorship of The Block and we have two traditional channels punching well above their weight in return.

It has humbled me a little, I admit. It has made me realise print as a performance channel works. The readers are there and they are the types of premium audiences Domain is seeking to engage for our customers. The responses to our print campaigns aren’t made up – they are consistently strong. The quality of audience remains the most premium in our marketing mix by far. The elephant in the media buying room is that many heads of agencies know print works for brand and performance, but their teams don’t sell it. Those at the coal face of planning media schedules don’t understand it, are dismissive, and confused about figuring out the attribution message. It’s an interesting scenario. I’m glad I have my own team and my own numbers to make those decisions myself.

Digital channels will always remain at the heart of my strategies. Performance, social, video. I love the immediate metrics, the flexibility, the pace, the targeting and the highly effective segmentation ability to scale fast. It’s where I feel most comfortable. But, reaching new scale isn’t about comfort. How wonderful that there are ‘new’ channels to explore!

Maybe, just maybe, the print elephant in the room might be addressed by media buying agencies. Who would have thought that print could be a new, cool place to make a brand stand out from the noise?

Domain chief editorial and marketing officer Melina Cruickshank

For more see:

A Marketer's Lens: Don't grumble over challenges, by Fox Sports head of marketing, brand & social, Chris Gross 

A version of this article first appeared in The Annual 2016 as part of The PhotoEssay series. The theme this year, was broad. Simply: 'discuss'. AdNews editor Rosie Baker asked marketers to write about 'elephant in the room' topics. The taboo subjects that are a concern, and get talked around - but never fully addressed. What in their businesses are the friction points, the bones of contention - where do they see the industry going to hell in a hand basket.

The photoshoot aimed to capture the heated conversation and boisterous discussion of topics that only emerge in the aftermath of a dinner party. The equivalents of politics, religion and sex in marketing and advertising. These will be the topics that dominate the agenda in 2017. Download the digital version of the magazine for $4.49 to see the whole series.

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