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2007 Top Innovators: Paul Rossi, Publisher, 'The Economist', North America

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Paul Rossi Division: General
Title: Publisher, The Economist, North America
Company: The Economist
Comment: In the last 18 months, Rossi has fundamentally overhauled The Economist's marketing arsenal, with a much greater focus on defining readers and drilling down into demographic data.

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Paul Rossi, publisher of The Economist, North America, wasn't satisfied with tinkering at the edges of the newsweekly to respond to the media upheaval of recent years. "We fundamentally overhauled the way we think about the marketing," said Rossi, who has spent the past 18 months implementing the changes.

The biggest difference is how The Economist, which dates back to 1843, now views its readers. "We needed to paint a picture of what our subscribers look like," Rossi said. "We now think about customers in terms of where they are, as opposed to people on lists."

Using proprietary research, The Economist started to segment its readers by such factors as the kinds of products and services they use and where they live and shop.

The intelligence led Rossi to re- evaluate how The Economist is distributed. Now, in addition to traditional outlets such as newsstands and transit hubs, the magazine is sold in retail outlets such as Costco and Whole Foods Market.

Rossi traveled to Austin, Texas, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., for marketing blitzes. "It really drives awareness to go into a city and do a comprehensive marketing effort in lieu of a national branding campaign," he said.

Rossi's marketing overhaul has yielded significant dividends. U.S. circulation rose 12% last year to 639,000, from 569,000 in 2005, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The publication should reach a 700,000 circulation by the end of this year, Rossi said.

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