And the Winner is?
By Hallie Mummert
The selection process for this year's Direct Marketer of the Year was not easy. So far, it's been a tough year, and many companies have not been eager to share war stories. So we dug a little deeper to find an innovative marketer making the best-tasting lemonade from this year's bumper crop of lemons. I'm pleased to announce that our winner is Brook Holmberg, circulation director of The Christian Science Monitor, a leading international newspaper.
The online channel has been a tough nut to crack for newspapers. It's taken a few years of trial and error to determine which Web model is best at driving traffic, while building subscriptions and revenue. And from the start, the Monitor has embraced the challenge of the Internet.
This grit has roots that extend back to the paper's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, who also established the Church of Christ, Scientist. Scandalized by a baseless lawsuit brought against her that was covered heavily by competing newspapers, Pulitzer's The New York Journal and Hearst's The New York World—both of which were known for their "yellow journalism"—Eddy launched in1908 the Monitor to provide fair, balanced coverage of national and world events.
Almost a century later, the management team at The Christian Science Monitor is following in her footsteps. While many consultants have advised Holmberg and Managing Publisher Stephen Gray to drop the controversial "Christian Science" part of the newspaper's title to improve sales, they remain committed to the belief that it would be more harmful to conceal the paper's origins.
In fact, the need to explain the paper's connection to the Christian Science faith gives the Monitor a unique selling position. In this past year, Holmberg was able to raise the Monitor's single-copy rate to $1; test into a strong direct mail control and offer; and begin the promotion of the publisher's holy grail—an online edition. The Monitor's new "treeless" PDF version allows the publisher to provide instant delivery to subscribers on the very day the paper is finished and help the firm expand its reach into the global marketplace.