While many believe that the print industry is dying, we see that print industry is not going away but it is going through a major transformation. As we at Locable say, Print isn’t Dying – Print-Only businesses are! Those companies that refuse to transition from being a publishing company into thinking of themselves as a media company will inevitably be forced to close their doors, but for those that are brave enough to embrace the world of digital, the future is as bright as ever. Nowhere is this truer than with magazines. In fact, according to Pew Research, local magazine audiences are growing and revenue is up slightly over the last year.
Why are local magazines so popular?
Most local magazines do a very good job of engaging and inspiring their readers. They focus on niche audiences, like a local community, or on a niche topic, such as computing. This focus is attractive to both readers and advertisers who want to identify with that target market. In short, local magazines are incredibly relevant and a positive voice for their community – more than that, the experience of reading a printed magazine is far superior to reading the same content online!… at least when done right.
If magazines are so popular, why do I need to embrace digital?
There are two main reasons why you need to embrace digital. First, is that as readers become more sophisticated, they want to interact with brands they trust in more than one way. For example, say they receive your magazine in the mail and read your article on a chocolate shop. Later that day, they might be out on Main Street and get an urge for chocolate. Having seen the article earlier, they decide they want to see if it’s as good as the article says, but wait! They don’t know where it is. If they pull out their phone and browse to your website, what will they find? If the answer is not “an easy way to find that chocolate shop”, then we have a problem. We’ve missed an opportunity to drive real revenue for your advertiser but more importantly we’ve let down the reader.
Second, people desire instant gratification and want to interact with their community on a daily basis. So even for publications with a monthly distribution, this is often not enough. Having a community website is the perfect way to bridge the gap between issues. It allows both the advertisers and the readers an instant way to interact which is a win-win. Going back to the example of the Chocolate shop, we could provide (and charge for) additional value by running a social promotion that would highlight the chocolate shop on your website and drive real revenue and foot traffic for them. At the very least, they could be in your directory so that the reader that pulls out their phone can find them easily and have their chocolate.
How is digital different than print?
Magazines are great for branding, but they lack one important ability when it comes to building a community. ENGAGEMENT. Now I’m not talking about an engaging story, I’m talking about the ability to interact with the story. When building a digital community is should be thought of as an extension of print that allows the reader to interact with you on a daily basis. For example, you run an article in print on How to Plan for Retirement. Likely, people that choose to read this story will have questions, but in print there is no interactive forum for them to ask them. Online however, you could have the author host a free Q&A session via email. This acts as a lead generation tool for the author (likely a financial planner) and provides additional value in the form of engagement to your readers. This type of Print-to-Web campaign ads more value for the advertisers and allows you to justify a higher price because you have both a print component (an article add-on that tells people to go online to ask questions and also acts as a branding ad next to the story) and a digital component (the forum to ask the questions which generates leads).
You can see from the above examples that there are lots of opportunities to grow your publication online but you have to have the right strategy in place to take advantage of these opportunities. Leveraging your print readership is a powerful way to build your digital presence and provides a significant competitive advantage over those that try to do one without the other.
At a time when we see publishers pulling back on paper quality or color, ensuring their product is a treat to read should be at the top of the list. Our print-partner Shweiki Media, works with short run publishers to help them get the most out of their print budget. Printers are not one-sized fits all. You need to ensure you have the right printer for your particular situation.