View from 30,000 feet: Magazine Publishing in an “And/Both” World

The two year downturn in the publishing industry hit hard earlier this month when publishing giant Conde Naste announced it was shuttering four magazines, including Gourmet.

This announcement sent shock waves through the publishing community and has many in the industry fearing the death of magazines.

Magazines that fail to embrace the concept that it is an ‘and/both’ world will die. Traditional publishing as we know it is dead because people consume information much differently today than even two years ago. Becoming relevant to your audience through a host of medium – print as the anchor, on-line for deeper and community building and social media tools for engagement and frequency – are essential to retaining a loyal customer base.

Experiential marketing – where consumers can experience the brand – are one of the most effective things that publishers can do to build loyalty and tie in marketers. Note I say marketers because thinking of companies as ‘advertisers’ is an old way of thinking about the relationship that will result in revenue being channeled elsewhere. Magazines very special relationships with their readers is hard to replace – or find – especially when coupled with a wealth of data about their subscribers. Developing new ways to leverage that relationship – and turn it into dollars – isn’t rocket science but takes courage and a removal of internal blinders that have many publishers, driving into walls. Special events, webinars and greater promotional tie-ins will drive revenue far beyond past earnings because marketers are putting their money into these opportunities over traditional advertising.

Many publishing companies are set up with dysfunctionality among channels where the on-line staffers don’t talk to editorial who don’t work closely with marketing. Publishers have dabbled in special events and on-line efforts for years, but now they need to put new thinking into the concept of the “and/both” world.  They need a new business lens to figure out how to maximize revenue from their most loyal and dedicated customers. A print publication is only part of the offering. Value-laden, pay-for opportunities outside the magazine–on-line , special events, partnership marketing tie-ins that leverage the relationship and expertise of the publication–have the potential to generate millions in direct revenue. A truly effective tool to drive companies to engage with savvy marketers who happen to produce a quality print publications.

–Andrew Stanten, president, Altitude Marketing