A New Dawn

Feature Article | November 26, 2008 by Stephan De Maria, IT journalist in Schwetzingen, Germany


Before even setting foot inside its offices in the outskirts of Bamberg, Germany, you can see that the Fränkischer Tag media group has big plans. The building is completely encased in scaffolding, and the busy sounds of construction and renovation fill the air. While the renovations to the group’s business model may be a little quieter, the results are equally modern. Fränkischer Tag is increasing its emphasis on its multimedia products as its looks to enhance its portfolio of newspaper and printing offerings.

The piercing whine of drills interrupts our conversation, but Philipp Froben, managing director and project manager; Matthias Staudt, IT manager; Petra Bayer, subproject manager for the customer database; and Stefan Sailer, head of commercial accounts, are unfazed. “We’ll get through it eventually,” says Bayer, laughing. Her lighthearted mood may spring from the knowledge that a major milestone in the transformation within Fränkischer Tag has already been achieved: The publisher has restructured its customer relationship management.

With SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) 2007, it has the right software application to support its new business model. “We are one of just three publishers in Germany to use SAP CRM 2007 together with the SAP for Media solutions,” says Bayer.

Difficult environment

Their limited markets make it difficult for traditional regional publishers such as Fränkischer Tag to increase circulation and readership. The boom in online media, meanwhile, adds ever increasing competition. It is more important than ever for local newspaper publishers to provide the highest level of service to existing advertisers and to ensure that their potential for generating revenue is fully exploited. Attractive new products and promotions are also important in the quest for new advertising customers.

“We realized that a lot of information about our advertisers was not in our system, but in our employees’ heads,” says Sailer. Another problem was that advertising sales efforts were not tailored to specific target groups and the data the sales staff used was not consolidated. Fränkischer Tag’s staff of 20 advertising sales agents each handled approximately 850 clients – individual customer relationships were nearly impossible. As Sailer explains, the breadth of order volumes and frequency in the advertising sales business is huge. To be able to steer its activities more effectively, the company split its advertising business into three target groups: Key account, consulting customers, and impulse advertisers.

Impulse advertisers are those that place only one to three advertisements per year. Rather than tie up its field sales staff with these smaller customers, Fränkischer Tag has established a telephone hotline specifically for this segment. That alone reduced the number of clients assigned to each field salesperson to a more manageable 300 to 350. “Our sales staff can now take the time to get to know each of their clients and their businesses,” says Sailer. The advertising experts can finally create the ideal offer for each customer.

Function and emotion

The publisher’s media mix gives its sales personnel great freedom in putting together offerings. However, they need the right tool to help channel the creative possibilities: Fränkischer Tag chose the latest release of SAP CRM.

The company took its time finding the right software solution. Before defining the requirements, the project team analyzed all processes in its advertising and subscription business and invited employees to propose improvements. After systematic analysis of all strengths and weaknesses, the team finally defined the future processes using ARIS Toolset. These were the processes that the new solution would have to support.

When the team from SAP Consulting presented the latest release, SAP CRM 2007, it was the innovation Fränkischer Tag was looking for. “The new user interface won us over. SAP CRM 2007 unites function with the right emotional response from the users,” Sailer says. “Even the best functionality is worth nothing if the users are not happy with it.”

Construction in Bamberg is continuing at full speed. Meanwhile, SAP is working on adding the industry-specific features that Fränkischer Tag has requested – in particular for campaign management and the interaction center. December 2008 will see the first tests of the new solution under real-life conditions.

Fränkischer Tag GmbH + Co. KG

Fränkischer Tag is a dynamic, modern media group that combines newspaper and advertising-journal publishing, reel-fed and sheet-fed printing, book and trade literature publishing, mail processing, and logistics. By bundling the expertise from its various lines of business, Fränkischer Tag has established itself as a trusted partner in the Franconia region of Germany and beyond.

With over 850 employees in the Bamberg headquarters and various other locations in Franconia, the independent publishing company generated €100 million in revenue in 2007.
Fränkischer Tag’s daily newspapers are among the most widely read in northern Bavaria. Fränkischer Tag, Bayerische Rundschau, and Coburger Tagblatt sell approximately 100,000 issues daily, reaching some 300,000 readers.

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