Anne Gowan has been direct marketing manager at the Daily Telegraph
since June 1996 when the paper started a concerted subscriptions drive.
At the time, the Daily Telegraph was gradually losing sales to the
Times, the price war was dragging on and it was feared that the
Telegraph could dip under the magic million sales mark. As the tactic of
lowering its cover price to compete with the Times had failed - Murdoch
had simply cut more from the price of the Times - cut-price
subscriptions was a solution that sounded watertight, if costly.
What’s your background?
I’ve been here since the beginning of the subs programme. Before that, I
was a consultant for two years, a trainer and consultant at the
Institute of Direct Marketing, and marketing manager at the Financial
What’s so great about newspapers?
I love the dynamics of the industry. It’s fast moving, the product has a
24-hour turnaround and swift reactions are necessary. Direct marketing
appeals to me because you can measure what you’re achieving.
How many are in your department?
It was just me when I joined! I drafted in others and, in the early
days, our agency, Richardson Pailin & Fallowes, played a supporting
role. But I wanted to grow the expertise in-house. Now there are seven
of us, two based at our call centre in Rickmansworth.
During the ABC row with News International last summer, your subs
strategy came in for heavy flak.
People said that the cost far outweighed the benefits, that the mail
shot targeting was anything but scientific and that loyal Telegraph
readers accounted for most subscriptions.
What’s your response?
Well, six months after we started it, News International launched its
own scheme. This is a long-term strategy for us - it’s taken the
volatility out of the market and addressed the problem of seasonal
sales. Our circulation across 1997 was an average of 1.132 million -the
highest it’s been for years.
When did you last respond to a piece of direct marketing?
I got a Harvey Nichols Chargecard last year, to get 10 per cent off in
the January sales.