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If I ran the Australian Financial Review…

by admin on August 28, 2011

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 44 seconds

If I ran the Australian Financial Review marketing department, here’s what I’d do (I suggested this to them in a letter attached to their annual Luxury magazine reader survey in 2010) to ensure my paper survived the coming newspaper apocalypse and also to leverage my very wealthy, intelligent and well-connected readers.

The AFR is the best newspaper in Australia, hands down. When I move north and start rearing Poll Herefords, though, I might start saying The Weekly Times is better, though that WILL BE A LONG TIME COMING.

Although it has too many Keynesians writing articles (I’m looking at you Mr Mumford), it is still the best thing we have in Australia. It is read by thousands of people like me (low 6 figure income, interested in finance, credit markets, equities) and read widely by some really, really smart and powerful boardroom executives, chairpeople, wealth creators and so on. People with a lot of discretionary spending. Billionaires, millionaires and those who aspire to those heights.

I remember last year doing their reader survey for the first time. I went to great lengths with a bunch of (I thought) awesome suggestions – none of which won me the Omega watch, sadly.

To save myself the time this year, I thought I’d summarise what the AFR could do to drive some more advertising revenue their way, as well as increase reader engagement and loyalty, and position themselves for the New Order in newspapers (hint: just selling newspapers is a sure way to go broke – Fairfax owns the AFR – FF not looking so healthy).

  • I’d create a mailing list, in MailChimp (or equivalent) – I’d ask for name, email, state, age, industry, wage, disposable income, interests (just to start with) and spending intentions (across a broad range of categories like travel, cycling, eating out, watches, clothes etc).
  • Not all the above info could be asked for upfront – name, email, state, interests might be enough to start with. Or, you could ask for all of it and let the person select what they do not want shared with advertisers.
  • Make it really clear you will NOT be handing personal information over to advertisers, EVER. Interests, age, location (state), income etc only.
  • For handing over that info, I’d give something away (bottle of whiskey, etc – doesn’t matter how much it costs, people need incentive).
  • I’d publicise it in the printed AFR, asking people to sign up.
  • I’d run some data over my highly targeted list (age, sex, income, interests, location) and summarise the data.
  • I’d start going to advertisers with (anonymised) data and hook up “partners” – think scotch (alcohol), sport companies (skiing, snowboarding, surfing, cycling, tennis, golf etc), hotels, credit cards, luxury goods (LVMH, Gucci, Chanel etc) watches and so on.
  • I’d start targeting the groups with (and this is the KEY) relevant, anticipated and personalised deals and advertising, and general interest articles.
  • These mail outs would replace the AFR Luxury insert of a Friday which truly is a waste of money: it’s a scattergun approach. I skip the pages on $300 Gucci shoes and sun glasses and $26,000 Chopard watches – what a waste. Imagine a highly personalised weekly email that looks and feels like it was made just for me.


Why aren’t you in my inbox with offers for $500-$1500 Tissot watches, Citibank/Emirates Platinum credit cards (because you already know I fly to the EU for cycling), discount Look/BMC/Wilier bike frames – you get the drift. You can hit Marius Kloppers up with offers of $26k IWC Schaufhausen (oh how I want one) time pieces, expensive hotels in Cannes for the film festival and so on, but for me, that’s wasted advertising space.

This is NOT Rocket Science

Why isn’t the AFR doing this, NOW? Who is in their marketing department? Why are they failing? MailChimp (or aWeber, Campaign Monitor or whatever) is not expensive. Advertising their own mailing list in their own paper is essentially free.

What is the conversion rate on advertising in Luxury (and other partys of the AFR!). Are people on 100-200k converting on products targeting people on 3 million? I somehow doubt it?

If I ran the AFR, that’s how I’d turn their hundreds of thousands of high net wealth, highly engaged, highly intelligent readers into an army who anticipate the weekly mail out of cool new toys and gadgets.

If someone from the AFR/Fairfax ends up reading this, contact me, I’d love to be involved.

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