Joe Berger drew from his experience as a consultant to magazine publishers in telling the assembled ACT 6 group that, not only can downward trends be reversed by committed publishers, but it is still possible to make money on the newsstand. Not only are newsstand sales a direct source of revenue, but they also create indirect revenue streams, through highly-qualified subscription generation and contribution to rate base. Smart publishers won’t turn their backs on newsstand, because it’s still a visible, public way to get magazines seen. Not only will a great editorial product and a well-crafted cover drive sales, it will also generate lots of PR. But as they move into newsstand, consumer magazine publishers need to make sure they ask, and answer, the essential questions: who is going to manage your newsstand sales? How to get on the newsstand? Who will manage the finances? Who are your competitors? What are your costs? When will you launch? When will you evaluate results and plan to go forward? Where do you want to be displayed? Where do you expect to be seen? Unasked questions, Berger reminded the group, can result in legendary disasters.
“And I wish that someone had given me that list of questions when I was starting out,” commented Monique Reidy, publisher of the regional lifestyle magazine Southern California Life.
Her advice to publishers is to ask questions. “Talk to smart people who have accomplished what you are setting out to do,” she said. Learn from them.”
One of the smart people that Ryan Waterfield has learned from is Eleanor Roosevelt. The publisher of another regional lifestyle magazine, Big Life, Waterfield took as her motto Roosevelt’s advice that we do something that scares us, every day. Big Life was born of the resolution to do just that, and from Waterfield’s passion for the mountains and the sky. “Be authentic,” Waterfield advised. “Share your passion. Try something new.”
Waterfield and Reidy were part of a panel of enthusiast publishers, moderated by Aaron Day, the CEO of Trend Offset Printing. In only six years, Trend has grown its business by 120 million dollars. They have done so through adding value to their printing services—value such as workflow solutions, a digital storefront, and mailing and delivery solutions.
In support of Trend’s conviction that print is alive and well, Ron Adams, the Publisher and Founder of Via Corsa, spoke of his publication as the evolution of an idea. The value of magazines, Adams said, goes beyond the 45 minutes it takes to read it. It continues through the weeks, and months, and maybe years in which you keep the publication and refer to it—it refers to their staying power, their collectability. And a publisher who understands the audience adds immeasurably to the collectability of the publication.
Via Corsa’s unique value proposition is its role as a post-purchase companion. Other auto magazines are guides for the purchase. By contrast, the Via Corsa reader has bought that dream car and now wants to get out and drive it. What adventures might there be, what experiences with the car? Via Corsa brings the answers to these questions to life through event sponsorship, co-partnerships, and memorabilia, in addition to the editorial content of the magazine itself. Via Corsa readers already have their cars. The publication encourages them to go out and enjoy them.
Adams was followed by Brandie Gilliam, Founder and Creative Director of Thoughtfully magazine, a publication whose mission is to advocate for a life lived passionately, beautifully, and, yes, thoughtfully. “We see ourselves as creative curators and inspiration enthusiasts,” Gilliam said. “Since we’re here, we might as well do it right.” For Thoughtfully, doing it right grew from a blog, to a site, and then to print, propelled into thought-leader status through the content developed throughout her media. Having created the magazine she wanted to read, Gilliam grew it from a lifestyle into a community, with readers, advertisers, and retailers participating in the experience.
Finding a unique opportunity in an exploding market is what Garrett Rudolph’s Marijuana Venture is all about. While editorial content existed for end users, nothing existed for the business end of the marijuana market. Rudolph saw the opportunity and seized it, launching an eight-page, black-and-white publication and growing it to its current size of 164 pages with 100 advertisers per issue and a distribution of 15,000 copies. It hasn’t always been easy—for example, his bank flagged some checks from his advertisers and peremptorily closed his account—but his unique value proposition, speaking to the business, rather than the consumer, has paid off.
Bauer’s Simple Grace also found an underserved market niche—one that led to a distribution of 300,000 copies across the nation. “What magazine readers have been missing is hope,” explained Carey Ostergard, Deputy Editor. “There is a huge untapped market for it.” Not anger, not judgement, not politics, or church speak, or being right or wrong—just love, and peace, and acceptance for the (mostly) women who have experienced pain and suffering and are turning to their religions for solace. Built around daily devotions, features, and storytelling, Simple Grace speaks to women who are strong, faithful, and devoted to their families. “What’s next? Perhaps branching off the brand, creating a version for girls. Offering something every day that cannot be googled, cannot be found online.” And continuing to offer a loving safe place for people to go—a space you can find on the newsstand. “Newsstand,” said Ostergard, “is still alive. And it’s open to newcomers.”
Click below to watch Joe Berger’s presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:
Click below to watch Aaron Day moderates the new magazine launches panel:
Watch this space for the final ACT 6 Experience as reported by Linda Ruth…