In December 1996, the Dainik Bhaskar group rewrote newspaper launch history while launching Dainik Bhaskar’s Jaipur edition – it became leader from Day 1! Since then, in the last 14 years, the group has successfully launched 58 editions across 12 states in four different languages. Since the launch of DNA in 2005 to the recent successful launch of Divya Marathi, I have witnessed launch processes and strategies being contemporised and re-aligned to the market. Seven critical elements to the launch process are:
Market, trends and expansion: Look at the market potential in great detail. This includes size and potential of markets for various goods and services and is a great indicator of future business. Analyse Ad-Ex size and potential basis accruals by existing players. Look at historical trends to gauge market conditions and current player interest. It is important to analyse how this new market adds to your existing markets/ editions. The dictum of “Sum should be greater than the individual parts” needs application. This approach should provide decent indication of market viability and strength of the competition. It will also help in inferring the strength of reader connects of current titles. Analyse readership data of different publications. Juxtapose this over population, literacy and print penetration, to study the gaps and potential for expansion of print reach. Remember, new titles need to expand the market to be successful.
Understanding print consumption dynamics: One of the most critical elements, it helps define brand proposition to the potential subscriber. Deep-rooted anxiety, frustration, pride and such strong emotions emerge to help position the title in the best-possible way. At Dainik Bhaskar Group, the first part of our twin-contact-survey process involves a complete door-to-door audit of household consumption of print. We strengthen our understanding of readers’ satisfaction levels with existing products. Need-gaps and detailed baskets of wish-lists are mapped. An ideal product template is designed and tested for future success.
Content capability: Newspaper launches are not made up of marketing wizardry. Content is always king. Consumption of media can never be pushed. There has to be a clear pull and repeat-consumption, everyday. Therefore, positioning of the newspaper product and building the requisite editorial infrastructure is critical to a successful launch. Readership is not a function of circulation. A sustained circulation is the result of content compatibility with readers.
Brand creation: Unlike TV, where the viewer logs into a programme rather than a channel, in newspaper dynamics, readers buy the newspaper brand/ title. For a newspaper launch, branding begins from the day it is announced. This necessitates clear decision-making. The new brand cannot take on a me-too platform and needs emotional differentiation.
Distribution & production capabilities: Like most traditional media, newspaper launches too are fought during the last mile. Distribution channels have the power to make or break a brand. Green-field ventures will typically involve vast investments into full-fledged production facilities. Commonality of news content, tone and opinions is a recipe for failure. Colour pages, good quality newsprint and pagination levels are today by and large hygiene factors. One needs to be able to differentiate capabilities in design and local reader-appreciation. It’s not enough just to be better than the competition.
Financial viability: Finally, this entire exercise obviously needs to result in financial viability and add to both, top-line and bottom-line of the company. Working capital requirement in line with time-lines to hit a profitable Ad-Ex accrual will need to be judged. It is a known fact that for a sustainable growth and financial viability, the title must attain leadership or close to leadership status.
The success-hungry team: Launch projects are a different ball-game. It needs a team with a project (result) mindset. The team must be able to take on the twists and turns and competitive reactions in its stride. Not a job for faint-hearted people. The team needs to be proactive. Market intelligence is another critical job during the launch process. Everything can be compromised to a certain extent, but not the team. Beyond everything else, a strong team that is passionate about success and hungry for results is what ensures success.
(Sanjeev Kotnala, Vice-President - Brandcom & National Head, Dainik Bhaskar Group.)