Archive for September, 2014

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A Different Kind of Storytelling: Dan Brewster’s New Adventure From Magazine Publishing to DARA’s World of Ecommerce, Global Artisans and Digital Dreams. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview

September 9, 2014

“The business model for what we’re doing is not entirely dissimilar from the magazine business model except we’re doing ecommerce instead of selling advertising. Customer acquisition, customer conversion rate and average order value are going to be the three critical leverage points on the revenue side.” Dan Brewster

With a background steeped in magazines and magazine publishing, Dan Brewster is certainly no stranger to storytelling and content. Having been the president-CEO of Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing and publishing president of American Express Publishing Corporation, the man knows a thing or two about what it takes to put out a product and make it work.

DARA His newest venture, a website called DARA Artisans, dedicated to sharing the handmade work of incredible craftspeople worldwide, is beautifully done and connects artisans with a global marketplace where their work can be appreciated and sold throughout the world. The website’s name comes from his lovely wife, Dara, co-founder of the site, and coincidentally translates globally into many different words that reflect the project’s deeper mission: preserving ancestral designs and crafts that can enrich today’s world as well as mirror generations of art before they’re lost to time.

I recently spoke with Dan about this artfully done and very well-received website and about his thoughts and opinions on the magazine media world in general. The conversation was rich with thoughtful insights and lighthearted banter.

So, sit back and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Dan Brewster and be prepared to be enlightened and entertained.

But first the sound-bites…

dan brewster


On switching from one type of storytelling in the magazine world to the art of DARA:
I decided to embark on a new course when the light bulb went off in my head and it was something that combined my passion for storytelling, travel and for wonderfully handmade goods from around the world. That was the evolution.

On where the name came from:
DARA is coincidentally my wife’s name. And we did retain a branding agency to develop alternatives and they said we can’t come up with a better name.

On whether DARA will ever morph into a print product:
It’s a possibility. We’re certainly going to look at multi-platforms, which I think is probably the future for most brands.

On his major stumbling block with the new venture:
Customer acquisition, customer conversion rate and average order value are going to be the three critical leverage points on the revenue side.

On how he plans to overcome that stumbling block:
We’ve taken pages out of many case studies. We began developing our social media platform several months ago. We now have unique visitors from over 100 countries.

On whether the timing of the website’s launch was good or bad:
You know, I really don’t make judgments according to timing, never have. Certainly the investment philosophy of our business helped.

On how he would grade the magazine industry as a whole today:
Well, I don’t know how to grade it. I think that the magazine model for the future is going to have to be multi-platform.

On where he sees DARA three years from now:
Three years from now; I can send you the executive summary of our business plan, but I see us actively involved with 500 or more artisans from around the world.

On what keeps him up at night:
Well, I did anticipate that you might ask that. (Laughs) What keeps me up at night is my obligation to the constituencies that I serve.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Dan Brewster, Founder, DARA Artisans…

Samir Husni: Tell me a little bit about this move from one type of storytelling and publishing to another type.

Dan Brewster: Certainly the essence of what I’ve done most of my business life is storytelling. And after I left the magazine publishing business I ran a small privately-held investment firm that I had started a number of years earlier. And I just got less and less interested in that business. Even though several people had come to me, including private equity firms with the opportunity to reenter the publishing business, the change was so imminent and the future so unclear that I didn’t want to take that step.

I remember having a long conversation with Rob Garrett, who ran an investment firm, and he asked me to try and peer into the future of media and I said, Rob, it’s going to be the intersection of data and content. And how that’s going to manifest itself exactly, I don’t know. But I wrote a paper about it back in 2003. And we had done data regression modeling at American Express going back to 1993.

So, I decided to embark on a new course when the light bulb went off in my head and it was something that combined my passion for storytelling, travel and for wonderfully handmade goods from around the world. That was the evolution.

Samir Husni: And where did the name DARA come from?

Dan Brewster: Well, DARA is coincidentally my wife’s name. And we did retain a branding agency to develop alternatives and they said we can’t come up with a better name because interestingly DARA translates into Khmer, Gaelic, Arabic, Hebrew and a number of other languages and typically means strength, hope, wisdom, integrity; all the things that we wanted to express in this adventure.

Samir Husni: Although it may seem quite a departure from publishing and magazines, looking at the website and the ideas and stories on it, somehow it feels as though you’re flipping through the pages of an actual magazine. Are we going to see a Dara in print?

Dan Brewster: It’s a possibility. We’re certainly going to look at multi-platforms, which I think is probably the future for most brands. And we began this with the intention of creating a magazine-like feel, combined with ecommerce. And that was very deliberate. In fact, our graphic designer, who had worked with me at American Express and Travel+Leisure back in the 90s, had run a studio in Venice for 11 years. I called her and five days later she was here and she hasn’t missed a day of work since. And that’s been over a year ago. We really wanted to create that sensibility, the mix of content, commerce and community.

Samir Husni: And what do you think is going to be your major stumbling block?

Dan Brewster: The business model for what we’re doing is not entirely dissimilar from the magazine business model except we’re doing ecommerce instead of selling advertising. Customer acquisition, customer conversion rate and average order value are going to be the three critical leverage points on the revenue side.

Samir Husni: How do you plan to overcome that?

Dan Brewster: We’ve taken pages out of many case studies. We began developing our social media platform several months ago. We now have unique visitors from over 100 countries. We have a dedicated staff sending our messages out through email newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and we have also talked to Carolyn Everson, who is the chief revenue officer at Facebook about using their analytics, as well as Google analytics, to find look-a-likes and as soon as we have a sufficient customer base we will have our own in-house regression modeling capabilities.

IMG_2034bw_939c500a-a670-417e-9cb8-c2913ccef799 Samir Husni: Let me shift gears just a little bit; I looked at the website and its offerings and what really grabbed my attention is your picture with your wife in front of the Aleppo Castle. And your story, what you wrote about it; it was right before the so called Arab spring. As our global village becomes closer and closer, instead of hearing good news, we’re hearing more and more bad news. So do you think it’s the best of times or the worst of times to launch DARA?
(Picture above: Dara and Dan Brewster in Aleppo with Adam (left), a Syrian artisan, before the war broke out. Reposted with permission from DARA’s website).

Dan Brewster: You know, I really don’t make judgments according to timing, never have. Certainly the investment philosophy of our business helped. We never attempted to time the markets; it’s an unusually perilous exercise. (Laughs) It’s something that no one can forecast. Fortune Magazine I believe was launched shortly after The Depression, if not during. Very, very difficult to make any judgments on that basis, certainly it’s the best of times in terms of technology evolving.


Samir Husni: I know you mentioned that you don’t want to get involved in the publishing industry again, but will we ever see Dan Brewster back in magazine media ventures?

Dan Brewster: What I was trying to say earlier is that at the time when I left Gruner+Jahr, I didn’t want to run another strictly publishing business. But do I believe that Dara can migrate into various print vehicles, a magazine being one option? Probably, with controlled circulation and a catalog would be another option.

Samir Husni: As an outsider now with all the experience, having been there and done that; if someone asked you to give a report card on the magazine media today, what grade would we get? A, B, C, D or is it an F?

Dan Brewster: Well, I don’t know how to grade it. When I was chair of the MPA in the 90s, I remember giving a speech saying that we’ve seen fairly steady quarterly profit growth at every major magazine publisher for about a decade now and what we’re overlooking is that growth has come from increased advertising revenue and spending. But if you look at the consumer economics, they have loaded over that period of time. The cost of acquiring a subscriber has gone up even though our ability to identify prospects has improved. And we’re at an artificially low price point for our revenues to drive advertising volume, and newsstand is dissipating. This is going to become a problem the moment we hit an advertising recession, we’re going to get caught in a whipsaw where the consumer economics are going to rapidly erode and the advertising revenue will follow. And that has certainly turned out to be the case.

So, I think that the pure magazine publishing model with very few exceptions, highly-targeted special interest magazines, controlled circulation luxury magazines and some other exceptions, enthusiast publications is certainly an exception; I think that the magazine model for the future is going to have to be multi-platform.

Samir Husni: If you look at the speeches and the talks from the 90s, everybody was forecasting something similar to what happened in 2008, once the economy collapsed everyone was saying that we need to be more consumer-centric. Do you think it happened or do you see that the magazine publishing model in the United States is still not consumer-centric, but rather advertising-centric today in 2014?

Dan Brewster: Well, if I go back to the early 80s I recall an editor at TIME magazine saying, we don’t edit the magazine for what people want to know, we edit the magazine for what they should know. And TIME magazine’s profits went steadily down. (Laughs) I think that we need to be much more responsive to consumer needs and tastes. The 80s and early 90s philosophy of cramming circulation down people’s throats in order to collect advertising revenue is obviously not a model that’s going to continue working.

And by consumer-sensitive, I think that one of the things that the technology age has given us is the adaptability to identify customer prospects much better than before and to deliver to them much more precisely exactly what they want.

Samir Husni: Where do you see DARA three years from now?

Dan Brewster: Three years from now; I can send you the executive summary of our business plan, but I see us actively involved with 500 or more artisans from around the world. I see the business model beginning to shift from our taking inventory in order to control the brand to one where we have relationships that enable artisans to drop ship from various parts of the globe. I envision the brand as being a very strong brand with multiple platforms, possibly including even retail.

We are going to be the most effective consumer-direct, high-end product company out there.

Samir Husni: Just drawing on your rich background in magazines and media publishing and all the other business models you’ve worked with; is there anything that if you had the opportunity to redo or not do you can identify?

Dan Brewster: Of course I can, but I prefer not to. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Dan Brewster: Well, I did anticipate that you might ask that. (Laughs) What keeps me up at night is my obligation to the constituencies that I serve and those constituencies are my investors and future investors, our staff, which is extraordinarily talented and committed to this project for both its likely business success, but also the sense of purpose that’s associated with it. And to the world of artisans who are carrying on ancestral traditions that are not as appreciated as I think they will become.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Analytics Cannot Design A Magazine Cover, But It Sure Can Provide Key Predictive Insights. A Mr. Magazine™ MagNet Exclusive

September 8, 2014

Editor’s Note: In this continuing Mr. Magazine™ MagNet exclusive research on the role of analytics and data in single copy sales for magazines, MagNet’s Luke Magerko continues to share with Mr. Magazine™ audience the role of cover tagging and what could happen in predictive analytics. Luke is not sharing the results yet, since he plans to share them with the Mr. Magazine™ audience in Mississippi during the ACT 5 Experience Oct. 7 to 10.

MagNetLogo This week we focus on how marketing and text analytics can provide key predictive insights for editors when designing a cover. Luke Magerko will walk us through high-level analytics concepts and how it will increase newsstand sales.

ANALYTICS CANNOT DESIGN A COVER!
I could not agree more, Samir, and this is the most important point: ANALYSIS IS DESIGNED TO HELP THE EXPERTS (THE EDITORS) MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS ON COVER TREATMENTS. THAT IS ALL!

THERE ARE DOZENS OF NEWSSTAND CONSULTANTS CLAIMING THEY KNOW WHAT WORKS ON A COVER. WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT?

I spent the better part of 15 years looking at cover treatments and I can tell you there are few general trends that work on all on magazine covers. Each publishing group has a different vernacular for cover treatments (we will call each component of a cover an “attribute”). Let’s look in more detail at the four steps from our last interview:

Let the editors play with covers – MagNet designed a Cover Analyzer to encourage an editor to peruse both their covers and competitive ones. This is an example from a couple years ago. This People Magazine cover is from early 2012. You can see sales based on scan data and various comparative sales results (prior year, 13 week average, etc.). This information is a very important ingredient in exploratory data analysis we discussed last time.

Samir Article 140908 Image I

I IDENTIFY MANY ATTRIBUTES TO THE COVERS, BE IT THE MAIN BLURB, THE CELEBRITY CHOICE AND SO ON. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO LOOK AT?
As I said last time, editors have questions and analysts should answer those first. The editor has an intuitive sense what worked (or did not work) on the cover. If those ideas can be quantified, then that is the foundation of the cover analysis.

SO YOUR ANALYSIS IS LESS ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK OR GENERALIZED TRENDS AND MORE ABOUT CONFIRMING AN EDITOR’S INTUITION.

Absolutely! Editors know nuances on their covers and can identify what they were trying to accomplish. This insight deeply affects what should be analyzed. The analyst/newsstand consultant’s opinion of what succeeded and what missed the mark is wholly irrelevant to the cover analytics process.

FINALLY YOU MENTIONED THE CONCEPT OF COVER “TAGGING.” HOW DOES THAT WORK?

In my first class at Northwestern University’s Master Program in Predictive Analytics, we were taught that preparing the data and ensuring acceptance will comprise over 90% of the time needed to complete an analytics project.
This is where cover tagging comes in: the art director or editor must sit down and walk an analyst through each attribute of the cover to ensure the analyst is correctly identifying attributes. I highlighted the word acceptance because there would be nothing worse than running a cover analysis only to have the editors say, “we do not think of the cover like that!”

CAN YOU SHOW US AN EXAMPLE?

Let’s look at the same cover above:
We tagged over 500 celebrity covers on what we believe is important. DISCLAIMER: THIS WAS DONE TO TEST A STATISTICAL MODEL NOT TO PROVIDE CONCLUSIVE RESULTS. EDITORS MAKE DECISIONS ON WHAT WILL BE TAGGED.
Some of our attributes include:
• Cover logo color
• Background color
• Main celebrity name
• Main celebrity gender
• Main celebrity media platform
• Main Blurb Theme
• Main Blurb Grammar
• Main Blurb Attitude
• Main blurb word count
• Main logo obstruction
• Total Images on the cover
The effort is simple: look at a cover and determine each attribute.

Samir Article 140908 Image II


THIS SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF EFFORT! WHAT KINDS OF RESULTS WILL YOU GET FROM THE ANALYSIS?

Once we have tagged the covers and run analytic tests, the editor/marketing department will learn:
• Which attributes are statistically “significant:” An editor might learn a brightly colored promotional starburst is not statistically significant and can be added or removed at their discretion.

• The percentage of sales affected by the “significant attributes: Once the significant attributes are identified, MagNet can inform the publisher what percentage of sales came from all those statistically significant attributes.

• How much each of the statistically significant attributes matter individually: An editor will know whether the gender of the celebrity is statistically significant and also how the gender will affect sales. In statistical terms, we call this “lift.”

• And yes, there is a predictive model: MagNet WILL NOT be able to provide an exact sales forecasting number per issue but can provide a solid trend line and an expected results based upon the predictions.


DO YOU HAVE ANY RESULTS YOU WOULD BE WILLING TO SHARE TODAY?

No, Josh Gary and I will walk your audience through an exclusive sneak peek of the cover analytics modeling tool at the ACT 5 Experience, October 8 at 11:30am at the Magazine Innovation Center in Oxford, MS.

I LOOK FORWARD TO SHOWING YOU HOW THIS ALL WORKS. IF YOU ARE AN EDITOR, I IMPLORE YOU TO JOIN US AT THE ACT 5 EXPERIENCE IN OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI OCTOBER 7 – OCTOBER 10. TO REGISTER CLICK HERE AND TO SEE THE AGENDA CLICK HERE.


THANK YOU.

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More Than A Magazine: Celebrating 40 Years Of “High Times” – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Mary McEvoy, Publisher – High Times Magazine

September 7, 2014

“High Times is not a magazine; it has always been a cause from the beginning. It was founded by Tom King Forcade, who was part of the Underground Press Syndicate. His goal from the very beginning was the legalization of marijuana and this was 40 years ago.” Mary McEvoy

high times-1 From the underground of the 70s to the openness of today’s legalized marijuana in many states; High Times magazine has been there as an advocate and a champion for the legalization of marijuana.

Its founder, Thomas King Forcade, was a member of the Underground Press Syndicate in the 70s and started the magazine in 1974. It became a huge success. But the 80s saw a crackdown on any kind of drug use (marijuana included) and the magazine reached its lowest point ever.

The magazine is privately owned and run by a group of shareholders who, due to the nature of the topic, rarely if ever, give interviews to the media about the magazine’s financials, distribution or numbers. However, I was able to reach the magazine’s publisher, Mary McEvoy. Ms. McEvoy, a former newsstands consultant, ascended the ranks at High Times to reach the top position as publisher of the magazine.

I met Mary years ago during several Periodical and Book Association of America (PBAA) retail conferences. She is an extremely energetic woman dedicated to the magazine business, first as a newsstand consultant and now as publisher of High Times magazine.

Today High Times is celebrating 40 years of publishing. The magazine persevered in the hard times and McEvoy is very proud of its continued and much-revived success. With the ever-growing legalization of the plant, due in large part to its medicinal properties, High Times is seeing the magazine’s mission looming closer than ever before: the complete legalization of marijuana.

My conversation with Mary, who was in Seattle, WA to attend one of the major events High Times organizes, The Cannabis Cup, covered a wide range of topics from the current status of High Times to its past and future. It was a lively discussion about the magazine’s longevity and its mission, the positive effects the High Times events and the Cannabis Cup Awards have had on the magazine and how she views the future of the title and the cannabis world in general. I think you’ll find her answers “highly” informative and entertaining.

So, sit back and relax (and I leave it up to you to decide how) and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mary McEvoy – Publisher, High Times and you may find out some things about cannabis you never knew.

But first the sound-bites…

mary mcevoy

On whether the magazine’s circulation is more newsstand or subscription: We’ve always been predominantly newsstand. All of our subscriber copies are in an opaque polybag that we send to subscribers, because it’s a privacy issue.

On the secret of the magazine’s longevity: I think because it’s not a magazine; it has always been a cause from the beginning.

On the cultural differences of High Times compared to other magazines she has worked for: This is a tremendously entrepreneurial community that I work with here. It’s a very small company; fewer than 30 people do everything. We put out the magazine, work on and contribute to the website and we also put on events now.

On the future of High Times: Events for one thing because they’re huge. We started these four years ago with one event in San Francisco and we really didn’t know what to expect. When we opened the doors we had a line that went out across the parking lot, down the street and started up the ramp to the Bay Bridge.

On her biggest stumbling block:
I think our only stumbling block is our resources right now. We are in a most explosive mode now and we do need to reevaluate how we can capitalize on everything we have coming to us.

On her most pleasant moment with the magazine:
My most pleasant moment right now that I can think of is on Sunday nights when we give out our Cannabis Cup Awards.

On how “high” she sees High Times in five years: I see five years from now, maybe another ten states going legal and our events becoming, in every one of these legalized states – well, we’re going to have an Events Division for the company.

On what keeps her up at night:
What keeps me up at night are the 40,000 people that showed up at the door in Denver last year. And that’s happening at almost every single one of our events. How do we address the huge interest in our company at this point in time, either through events or through all the opportunities that are coming our way?

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mary McEvoy, Publisher, High Times…

Samir Husni: Recently I read that there were 32 million people in the United States who actually use marijuana, by hook or by crook.

Mary McEvoy: There are no real numbers at this point, we have numbers that we throw around and that’s probably a number that reflects the people who smoke it on a social basis.

Samir Husni: Well, from that audience; how big is the reach of High Times?

Mary McEvoy: Let me preface this by apologizing. I’m not going to be able to give you any kind of circulation information or financial information. I can tell you certain things about increased page count and increased ad counts, but because we’re a private company and our shareholders are our management, there are certain things I can’t talk about. We have no rate base; we’re not audited. Our advertisers are very happy just with their response; they don’t need to know what the numbers are. So we’ve never released that information.

Samir Husni: Do you have more newsstand circulation or subscription?

Mary McEvoy: We’ve always been predominantly newsstand. All of our subscriber copies are in an opaque polybag that we send to subscribers, because it’s a privacy issue. Nobody wants their High Times coming to their house fully exposed for Mom or the mailman or the landlord to see. We’ve always been about privacy. Newsstands, they just maybe want to pay cash, not put it on a credit card. But that’s the kind of world that we’ve always lived in.

Right now my biggest disappointment in all this is the newsstand, because we were primarily a newsstand-driven company. And because of what’s happening on the newsstand, particularly when you hear of the ones closing down, it’s disappointing. Bookstores though are huge for us, convenience stores are huge and when we lost the stores we lost, many 7-11’s picked us up, many Mom & Pop’s and many small chains. The Bob’s Stores and the large supermarkets are not where we are. It’s a struggle every single month to try and hold onto the copies that we have out there now.


Samir Husni: You’re celebrating 40 years of publishing, which is a milestone in the history of magazines; what do you think is the secret of your success?

Mary McEvoy: I think because it’s not a magazine; it has always been a cause from the beginning. It was founded by Tom King Forcade, who was part of the Underground Press Syndicate. His goal from the very beginning was the legalization of marijuana and this was 40 years ago.

The magazine is one of the greatest proponents in the world for the legalization of marijuana in good times and bad times. It was an exciting time in the 70s because things were definitely turning around and then when the Reagan administration came in and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign was in full swing, again we had to go underground.

But because the mission has never changed, it’s always been about the plant; it’s about legalization, cultivation and it’s about the cannabis culture. And none of that has changed.

As I said, it’s a cause that we’ve been fighting for now for 40 years and everything that we do is based on getting marijuana legalized.

Samir Husni: Do you see that as the reason for survival of the magazine, that because you are more of a cause the magazine was able to survive through thick and thin?

Mary McEvoy: Absolutely. Because what happened in the past; we’ve had the Federal Government actually come in and this was in the early 80s, and they went after all of our advertisers. We were down to a point where we were afraid we weren’t going to be able to even open the doors anymore.

But just like any passion, and this is a passion that the ownership of the company had and still have, we’re not going to take money, we’re not going to eat; basically our lives and our whole passion is going to be about keeping the cause going. And that’s what the magazine is all about.

Samir Husni: You’ve worked at other magazines; how is the (no pun intended) culture different at High Times?

high_times_co_13 Mary McEvoy: This is a tremendously entrepreneurial community that I work with here. It’s a very small company; fewer than 30 people do everything. We put out the magazine, work on and contribute to the website and we also put on events now. We have six of our Cannabis Cup events this year. We do everything, so when you come in as the weekend director; you wind up as the publisher.

Our production people are our registration people right now at our events. Everybody wears a different hat. You learn the entire business when you come to High Times. You’re not just in the production, art or editorial departments. A small group has to wear many hats and it’s not just a situation where you used to write for the print magazine and now you have to write for the website; you also now have to be part of the competition at our Cup. You have to do seminars at our Cup. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time working for this company and it’s been 10 years now.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on the 40th anniversary edition; it is one hefty issue. How many ad pages do you have in this commemorative issue?

Mary McEvoy: Ninety ad pages. It’s 160 pages and 90 of them are ads. It’s the first time we’ve done a book-a-zine. We’re very excited about it. We worked long and hard. We increased the paper stock; when I turn the page, I keep thinking that I’ve got two pages between my fingers. It’s just double the normal paper weight. And it’s just our love for the magazine that motivates us and we’re so excited to be doing something like this.

Samir Husni: What is the future for High Times?

Mary McEvoy: Well, the events for one thing because they’re huge. We started these four years ago with one event in San Francisco and we really didn’t know what to expect. When we opened the doors we had a line that went out across the parking lot, down the street and started up the ramp to the Bay Bridge. The police came in and actually said you have got to stop letting people in, it’s a fire hazard.

From there, every year it’s grown. The one we’re doing in Seattle now, every year we have to find a new venue because we outgrow the one from the year before. Next year we anticipate doing eight events. We think there is going to be more legalization, Oregon – so we’ll go there and Alaska. We’re talking about Jamaica; the Jamaican government actually contacted us and they’d like to expand their tourism during their off-season. So, we’re thinking about Jamaica in May, which I wouldn’t mind so much. This is what happened in Amsterdam 27 years ago. We started the Cup 27 years ago in November when it was their off-season. And we’re still growing there too.

We started a growth fund because people were coming to us and asking how do I get in on the ground floor? They were saying, I have money to invest. Also our advertisers were asking how they could get to that next level because they had products that they felt were going to soar and people would really want them. So, we decided to put the two of those together and we started this growth fund.

Samir Husni: And the purpose of the growth fund is?

Mary McEvoy: To put cannabis entrepreneurs together with cannabis investors. We’re calling it the High Times growth fund. The fund has been written about in Time and Forbes did something on us too. People are saying, “Wow! High Times is really getting involved.” We’re not under the radar anymore. Suddenly, and this has only happened in the last 18 to 24 months, people now see us as a genuine entré into a community that is now legitimate.

Samir Husni: And what has been your biggest stumbling block?

Mary McEvoy: I think our only stumbling block is our resources right now. We are in a most explosive mode now and we do need to reevaluate how we can capitalize on everything we have coming to us. Licensing opportunities are coming our way today that we’ve never had before; we’re expanding our advertising so we have to look internally to determine how we expand to capitalize on all these opportunities. I think that’s really something that we’re seriously looking at right now.

Samir Husni: And what has been your most pleasant surprise or moment in the years you’ve been at High Times?

Mary McEvoy: My most pleasant moment right now that I can think of is on Sunday nights when we have our Cannabis Cup Awards. It’s like an Oscar but it’s an actual cup. We award these Cups to five categories: the best Indica, the best Hybrid, best edible, best Sativa and best Non-Solvent Hash. When these people get up on the stage they practically have tears in their eyes and they’re saying, “This is my business and I couldn’t tell my mother about it before. Now she puts the Cup on the mantle.” And when they say, High Times you did this for us, you brought us out of the closet, all the hard work we do to put all of these Cups together is worth it. I literally get chills when I hear people get up on the stage and say thank you High Times for changing my world.

And when you get a Cup, suddenly your strain, your seeds become – well, it’s like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Suddenly, you can market these as a High Times winner and it’s huge. It’s like Consumer Reports just put you on the top ten list.

Samir Husni: Again, no pun intended, but how high do you see High Times five years from now?

Mary McEvoy: (Laughs) I see five years from now, maybe another ten states going legal and our events becoming, in every one of these legalized states – well, we’re going to have an Events Division for the company and we’ll probably be close to twice the size we are today.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Mary McEvoy: What keeps me up at night are the 40,000 people that showed up at the door in Denver last year. And that’s happening at almost every single one of our events. How do we address the huge interest in our company at this point in time, either through events or through all the opportunities that are coming our way? What’s the smartest way to capitalize on these eighteen months of recognition that is happening to us?

We literally had 40,000 people at this event last April in Denver because Colorado is a big legal state. And again, we’re a small company and we need to capture everything that we can think of to make sure this isn’t just our fifteen minutes of fame. We need this to drive us into the future now and ten years from now.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Book-a-Zines: Saving Print or Adding to the Problem… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

September 4, 2014

ROBIN1-2ROBIN2-3ROBIN3-4 There is no question that niche publishing is one answer to the print world’s prayers. From magazines that delve into goat farming to ones that highlight the advantages of an eco-friendly lifestyle, targeting the audience and its interests is paramount in today’s digital times for ink on paper. Audience first was, is and always will be the main secret ingredient of the magazine publishing’s recipe for success.

But is the magazine media industry going too far with the prices and repetitiveness of special issues and book-a-zines, which often come from the same publisher?

For example, the tragic death of Robin Williams initiated not one niche title about the comedic genius, but three from the leader in the market of book-a-zines Time Home Entertainment.

• LIFE – Remembering Robin Williams – $13.99
• People Tribute Commemorative Edition – $14.99
• TIME – Robin Williams 1951-2014 – $14.99

As you can see, each one of the magazines is extremely similar in both price and title, but what about the content?

The TIME issue is of course, the newsier one with stories about his depression and extraordinary life.

The People Tribute shows his Hollywood side, offering content about his roles and the many co-stars and actors he influenced or knew.

The LIFE remembrance is, as it should be, filled with fantastic photographs and wonderfully informative tidbits and captions that frame the pictures quite well.

The quality here is not the issue, nor is the ingenuity of the publisher, using three different platform titles to showcase the actor’s life and death.

The question that remains is whether the magazine industry is flooding the newsstands with titles that not only confuse their audience by being very similar, but also delves too deeply into their pocketbooks to pay for them?

TV Guide - the beatlesTV Guide - ElvisNeil Young-8 This month saw other tribute titles such as:

Rolling Stone’s Special Neil Young Edition – $12.99
TV Guide’s Remembering Elvis – $9.99
TV Guide’s The Beatles Special Edition – $9.99
People – Happy Birthday, Prince George – $12.99

The two TV Guide specials are both from Topix Media Lab, The Neil Young from Rolling Stone’s series of special collector’s editions, and of course, Happy Birthday to the little Prince is from Time Home Entertainment.

Prince George-5 Each month we welcome these new and informative specials and book-a-zines and as consumers, we have now come to expect them. In fact more than two thirds of all new titles arriving at the nation’s stands are book-a-zines.

But as publishers continue to raise the prices of these niche products and duplicate them across platforms, what may be at stake here is the customer’s loyalty and admiration for the product and the publisher. Resources for the audience are not boundless, no matter the success of these targeted titles and never underestimate the intelligence or savvy when it comes to the buying public.

Something to think about…

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Awesome Numbers For August: 72 New Titles – 20 Promising Frequency

September 2, 2014

As summer winds down and we get ready for fall – new titles for the month of August were strong – 72 total, 20 with frequency and 52 specials.

I have always said that magazines are reflectors of our society and the titles for the month of August proved no exception to that statement – illuminating the history of the month with a tribute title for Elvis and of course, the tragic death of Robin Williams. From People to Life to Rolling Stone, magazines honored the comedic genius. The covers of these timely issues were amazing and the content extremely well-written, proving once again that magazines mirror our sadness and happiness as a whole and all that happens within.

So I hope you enjoy the August launches…up first our frequency:

01 TechnologistBlack & GreyCycloCrossEQL - weddingsEQL - weddingsFour Food MagazineIntercourseKate-1La Petite - the little onesLaterLEI-2Maroon MagazineMega Truck-1Nashville LIfestyles - At HomePopular NoiseRealRed & Blue - OIe MIss FootballRemindSteelheader's journalThe Intentional QuarterlyWake Forest 27587

And now our specials:
5sos-1250 Scariest Movies-9Best of Fine Wood Working - HandtoolsBest One Dish Recipes-20Christmas-11Cleaning-17Complete Guide to the Woodlot-21Cook's illustrated - cooking freshcrochet scene-13Crochet WorldCuisine Holiday-16Discovery - SnakesDwellEat CleanEnchanted KnitsEnquirer-4epicurious italy-18Flight Journal - WWII CorsairGlamour - Special Edition Beauty How TosGreat Empires-3Great Garden Design-15handbags-14How to grow and preserve your own food-22LIfe - Dream DestinationsLIFE Robin-7Marily and Diana - sex lies & murderNational Geographic - Best of EuropeNeil Young-23New York HealthNewsweek - Destiny video game collector's editionPC Gamer - minecraftPeople - Hollywood at HomePeople - Prince George 1st bdayPeople - style watchPEOPLE Country MusicPeople Robin-6Rebel Rodz presents - RatzRolling Stone Robin-8Scientific AmericanSeeing is believing-10Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ExtraSunset - worlds best campingSunset Weekend TripsTatoo FlashThe Animal Mind-19TIME for kidsTime LIfe - inside the mind of a criminalTIME Robin Williams-5TV Guide - ElvisTV Guide - the beatlesUSA Today Back 2 SchoolWeight Watchers-2

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