Mr. Magazine’s™ Five Common Sense Strategies for New Magazine Media Success…February 27, 2012
Magazine media publishing today is more complicated than ever. The options are unlimited and the choices are endless. The world of technology has added more possibilities to the world of publishing, whether ink on paper or pixels on a screen. The latest count of the number of Apps available for the general public is over one billion… yes, you’ve read that right: 1,000,000,000 Apps. And the number of magazines available for the general public is over ten thousand… yes: 10,000 magazines.
So, what’s one to do with an idea for a new publication or an App in this media jungle world? I have been thinking about this topic lately, and the one major thing that keeps popping in my head is the fact that, in the midst of this ocean of publication and Apps, one thing seems to be missing from most of the discussions regarding new magazine media launches: common sense. We have become so blinded by all the wizardry that technology can do that we have fallen in love with the technology and left the customers (whether they are readers, users, viewers or listeners) behind. In addition to the customers, I’ve noticed that we’ve left the experience that our content creates behind as well. So, to help those who ask, and those who are lost in the technology jungle who have no time to ask, here are my five pure “common sense” pieces of advice to help you plan and execute your next great magazine or App ever created:
1. Focus on the Customer first: No matter how great your idea is, ideas don’t live in a vacuum. You need to find other folks, a lot of folks, who share the interest, the need, the want, the lust (you get my drift) for that idea. Identify and define that customer. Learn anything and everything you can about them. Before you even test the validity of your idea, find the customers.
2. Check your Idea: People who tell me that they have a novel idea are immediately told that there is a good reason for that: someone else has tried this idea and it never worked. Of course, there is a very slim chance, less than .01%, that you are a genius and yes, your idea will bring in millions upon millions of dollars, but remember the odds are, with all due respect, that you are not a genius. Ask yourself whether your idea is based on content or on experience. Remember the best ideas are those that create a great experience for the customers. You can’t afford to be just a content provider anymore, you have to be an experience maker.
3. Study the Competition: Once you are sure of your idea, start looking at what is out there (while remembering that there are a billion Apps and ten thousand magazines). Write down what the strengths and weaknesses of the competition are. Study and analyze the competition. As long as you know that there is nothing unique anymore, find out how can you be “Better and Different”. The B and D factor is going to be essential for your success in the future.
4. Dig in for the Money, but Don’t Quit your Day Job: No matter what your idea is, you will need lots and lots of money to execute the idea. Write a budget and quadruple it. Then and only then will you be able to be close to what the execution of your idea is going to cost. If that number is scary, rest assured, it is only the beginning. You are better off quitting here and shelving your idea if you do not have easy access to that money. Keep in mind, that no matter what you do, if you’re that individual entrepreneur who is hoping to make it big in the marketplace with this idea, do not quit your day job. Ideas come by the dozen and they are worth a dime. It is the execution of the idea that counts. That execution, with no exception, is very costly.
5. Follow your Guts (after you take steps 1 through 4): No matter what type of idea or plan you have so far, folks are going to tell YOU, “this idea will never work.” However, keep in mind that folks said that about some great ideas that were successful and conquered the world. There is not a single amount of statistics nor formulas that you can use or apply that will give you the assurance you will need to achieve success. At the end of the day, it is your gut feeling that will give you that final approval to go ahead with your idea. Not the numbers, not the formulas, and above all not the consultants (me included)… It is you and only you who will give yourself the green light to proceed. So, are you ready?
I know exactly what you are thinking now. You are telling yourself this is just common sense. I know, isn’t that the title of this piece: the five “common sense” strategies for success? The biggest problem we have in the magazine media industry today is the lack of common sense. We have driven that car called common sense and parked it in a garage, five floors below, and, guess what, we left the keys in the car. Go figure?!