Archive for the ‘ACT 7 Experience’ Category

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Introducing Franska.NL, The Truth About Digital Ad Lies, And Life Lessons In Single Copy Sales. ACT 7 Experience, Day 3, Part 3.

May 18, 2017

We continue the taped presentations of the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 7 Experience. First is Franska Stuy, the celebrated editor in chief from The Netherlands, talks about her new digital baby Franska.nl. Next is Bo Sacks’ presentation on the Truth About Digital Advertising Lies. And last but not least in this segment is John Harrington’s recap of a life in single copy sales. Enjoy the three videos below and stay tuned for more…

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Here’s What It Takes To Launch A Magazine: A Panel Discussion. ACT 7 Experience, Day 3, Part 3.

May 11, 2017

The afternoon of day 3 of the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 7 Experience opened with Josh Ellis, Editor in Chief, Success Magazine leading a panel discussion on what it takes to launch a magazine. The panel included the following industry leaders from editorial, sales & marketing, advertising, design and distribution areas:
Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant, Joseph Berger Assoc.
Nicole Bowman, Founder & Principal, Bowman Circulation Marketing
Marshal McKinney, Design Director, Garden & Gun
Jennifer Reeder, VP, Sales, Democrat Printing
Steve Viksjo, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Jarry magazine, and
Bryan Welch, Founder, B the Change Media.

Check the video below and stay tuned for more videos to come…

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Magazine Distribution 2020 and Stories of Magazine Launches… ACT 7 Experience, Day 3 Part 2

May 10, 2017

We continue to post the videos from the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 7 Experience that took place on the campus of The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism. What follows are two morning panels, the first dealt with magazine distribution from publisher to customer and the second recalled stories of magazine launches… enjoy and stay tuned for more to come.

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Launching a Magazine: What To Bring To The Table…Linda Ruth Reporting From The ACT 7 Experience…

May 8, 2017

(Left to right) Marshall McKinney, Design Director, Garden & Gun magazine, Bryan Welch, founder and CEO, B the Change Media, Jennifer Reeder, VP of Sales at Democrat Printing, Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant at Joseph Berger Associates, Nicole Bowman, Founder & Principal at Bowman Circulation Marketing, Steve Viksjo, Co-founder and Creative Director at Jarry magazine, and Josh Ellis, editor in chief, Success magazine.

“Demographics are evil,” said Bryan Welch, the founder of B the Change Media, speaking before an enrapt audience at the Magazine Innovation Center’s Act 7 in Mississippi last week. Welch was part of a panel that included industry luminaries Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant at Joseph Berger Associates, Nicole Bowman, Founder & Principal at Bowman Circulation Marketing, Marshall McKinney, Design Director, Garden & Gun magazine, Jennifer Reeder, VP of Sales at Democrat Printing, and Steve Viksjo, Co-founder and Creative Director at Jarry magazine.

“If you go into the magazine business with a specific age range in mind,” Welch continued, “you are excluding people who might share the passions of your audience. Demographics are, in a sense, used to create tribes of your audience: this group is liberal democrat, that group conservative republican, and so on. When we set out to de-tribalize the content of our magazine we stumbled across a huge audience that we didn’t aim for, we didn’t know about, and we would have excluded if we had been limited to a demographic profile.”

The panel was moderated by Josh Ellis, editor in chief of Success magazine, and focused on magazine launches, and opinions were shared on what it takes to launch a magazine. You need to start with a product champion, Reeder said: “Someone with the dream.”

Berger agrees with the need for vision, but wants it rooted in practicality: “You have to be brave, a little crazy…and you have to do your homework.” For him, homework includes understanding the business and managing your expectations. “I can arrange for where your magazine is going to want to go. But once it’s on the stands, it’s the publisher’s job to make people want pick it up. We can help by showing how it’s done. Beyond that, it’s important to be realistic about what can happen. When it comes to newsstand, all of the challenges are the results of consolidation. We might not like it, but we can’t change it. It’s what happens in economics, it’s what happens in capitalism. We can rail about what happened in 2003, but we’re in 2017. So let’s forget about what went before and ask: how can we sell your issue? We have the same number of magazines, but less space. How do we let the audience know that the magazine is there and they can get it?”

“Passion is the raw material of the business we’re in,” Welch said. “For me , that’s the invigorating thing about it. It’s also the terrifying thing. If you put together a team of passionate idealists who believe in your vision, and what you are doing fails, the people you are with go down with you. That’s a lot of responsibility.”

“Your responsibility is to your audience as well as your team,” McKinney added. “You want to serve your core reader at all costs. You’ve built trust with that reader—never, ever violate that trust. Give them a healthy dose of what they’ve learned to expect, and surprise them when you can. You can do a lot of counter-intuitive things. You can make a cover that won’t sell on the newsstand, for example, if it builds your mythology and continues to build your brand. But the thing you can never do is betray your reader.”

And how does print fit into this apparently digital age?

“I can’t name a digital product that has lived on its own,” Welch said. “If you don’t have events or a print publication or both, you have no way of monetizing what you are doing.” That does not mean ignoring the opportunities offered online. “You meet the people online. You monetize them through print and events.”

“Use your social media presence to announce the launch through the influencers,” said Viksjo.

In this group, tilted to entrepreneurs, some of the points made at John French’s “How to Save a Magazine” presentation on the previous day were not entirely embraced. As Welch put it, “I am outraged at the idea that you want to launch your magazine for the investor. You need to launch it for the reader! You cannot serve two masters.”

McKinney agreed. “It’s like kicking your reader in the crotch, when you come in and dismantle the editorial. It might work on some level, but it isn’t keeping the audience in mind.”

“A business on the verge of bankruptcy is in a place where some crotches need to be kicked,” Welch reflected. “But not the reader’s. Never the reader’s.” And who is the reader? Someone who shares in the passion of the magazine. “Twenty years ago I took a sacred vow never to use the word ‘rate base’ in a professional setting. It’s the dumbest idea. Managing to a circulation level ignores the value you get from each member of the audience.”

“You need to be clear on who your readers are,” Bowman added. “If you are not clear on who you are trying to serve, you are not going to be able to find your audience.”

“I’ve worked for a magazine that got started with $7000 and a box of cards,” McKinney said. “And another with $12 million in its launch budget that almost had to shut down. It’s a wild ride.”

“And God help you if your project is good enough to attract venture capital,” Welch said. “The relationship with the VC is a path to their control.”

To make an impression, McKinney advised, “Print on great paper. Don’t skimp. Some of the most coveted real estate in the world is the American coffee table. That’s where you want to be.

“Our physicality is what distinguishes us,” Welch said. “It’s what allows us to monetize our stories in a way we cannot do without that physicality. How much leverage could I get by upgrading that physical experience? We can measure the impact on the newsstand. And what is the advertisers real response? There might be a lot of value there.”

“People want to own things,” Berger said. “We’ve got the web, the video, all this other stuff which is interesting, but they don’t own it. A magazine, they can own.”

And what words of wisdom can this group leave with us? “Your readers are the center of your business,” said McKinney. “Hold them captive in your mind. Build from there.”

And Welch finished with: “Be emphatically who you are. Think of the most outrageous thing you want to say and say it with the first issue. Set a marker out there. Don’t bother testing sell lines that don’t get you excited. Make aggressive statements about your entity. And be faithful to your audience, so that they know who is showing up.”

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Distribution 2020: The ACT 7 Experience Brings Getting Your Magazine In The Hands Of Its Readers Front & Center…Linda Ruth Reporting…

May 7, 2017

Right to left, Sebastian Raatz, Executive VP, Bauer Publishing, USA, Jay Annis, VP/Business Manager, Hello & Hola! Media Inc.; Steve Crowe, VP/Consumer Marketing, Meredith;William Michalopoulos, VP/Retail Sales & Marketing, PubWorX; Curtis Packer, Director of Promotions, OTG; and Samir Husni.

At the first full day of Dr. Samir Husni’s ACT 7 Experience at the University of Mississippi, many of the challenges facing magazine publishers were outlined. “But we are not in the problem business,” Husni told the audience. “We’re in the solution business.

“The problem is not the ink on paper,” he continued. “The problem is what are we putting on the ink on paper. If we are still doing things the way we were pre-digital, we have a problem.”

With this in mind, he assembled and moderated a team of experts on the last day of the ACT 7 Experience (April 27, 2017) to address these problems: Jay Annis, VP/Business Manager, Hello & Hola! Media Inc.; Steve Crowe, VP/Consumer Marketing, Meredith;William Michalopoulos, VP/Retail Sales & Marketing, PubWorX; Curtis Packer, Director of Promotions, OTG; Sebastian Raatz, Executive VP, Bauer Publishing, USA. What follows is an important excerpt from that discussion panel:

Husni: Popular wisdom has it that it doesn’t make sense to launch a magazine anymore, the problems are rife. Does it still make sense, for example, to use direct mail?

Crowe: At Meredith, direct mail still makes sense for us. For The Magnolia Journal, direct mail response was through the roof. Meredith has existing channels, and Magnolia was able to bring a channel of its own. From day one, response was amazing. It helps to start with a well-known brand, and a channel.

Michalopoulos: To say print is dead is ridiculous. Hearst is launching Air BNB, a digital property that wants a print presence.

Raatz: I cringe to hear that “print is not dead.” It brings to mind the Saturn ad saying that the brand is going away. The push back makes it sound as if print’s continuing existence is debatable. It isn’t. Coming up with great magazine ideas is not any harder than it used to be. Magazines that fail, fail faster, leaving less damage in their wake. Magazines with great content and curation will still succeed. But the dialog about failure makes it that much harder to get into launch mode.

Husni: How easy is it to launch a magazine?

Annis: Go back to 2008 and look at the decline since then. It isn’t all that different from what happened to other merchandise categories in the same stores. The difference is that the retailers are reading about it, from us. The coverage makes them believe it is digital, as opposed to the recession, that has brought down print. So they are cutting back on display, on space, and that is contributing to the problem. When we launched Hola, we had a limited distribution, we targeted the Spanish-speaking market. We used our money to target display in that market. Four issues in, with a limited distribution, we’re selling 20-25,000 copies. And we found a few distributors who only target that market, and they make up a third of their sales. Looking at their formula will be part of the solution going into the future.

Husni: From a retailer point of view, how is distribution changing?

Packer: OTG is an airport retailer, and in airports the majority of sales are still magazines. We use technology to support magazine sales. You can order them right off our app, and one of our crew members will bring it right to your table. We want to expand that out to subscriptions, for example. We bring magazines out of stores and we put them in the food halls. You can buy magazines while you wait for your food. In our busiest airport, Newark, 25% of the magazine sales come from the OTG Quick-Serve restaurants.

Husni: What is the difference between a successful direct mail campaign and junk mail?

Crowe: Editors want beautiful packages. We do a lot of testing. We use premiums and get it to the customer first. It’s a transactional piece.

Husni: Have you seen a change in the response rate since the dawn of the digital age?

Crowe: They’ve held for some time.

Husni: How are you using digital to enhance direct mail?

Crowe: We promote special offers if you go online. Some groups are responsive, some less so, but we want people to start transacting with us online.

Michalopoulos: On the newsstand side, we push out regional emails about events where publications are being sold. Targets through email lists the promotion of a particular issue in a particular area.

Annis: We have over a quarter million followers on Facebook since August. Traditionally, Facebook followers want everything for free, but we’re going to be testing direct mail packages online. We can deliver our message to the customers’ phones while they wait at checkout; we can message them a special offer when they pass the magazine section. Or, here’s an idea: use drones to drop packages on every household! (Laughter)

Husni: We’ve been speaking about “audience first.” How are you using the audience data that is available?

Raatz: Bauer has always launched magazines, less on data and more on an understanding of our consumer, based on anecdotal evidence—deriving from our conversation with our existing audience members. Front-end magazines are impulse purchases. If you overlay smartphone adoption rates with checkout sales, as the one grew the other declined. This didn’t affect mainline sales, but the market for smartphones is pretty saturated right now. Presumably the checkout decline will level off.

Husni: Who is to blame for that decline?

Michalopoulos: Merchandising is a huge problem. When you go into a store, you encounter out of stocks, empty wire, old issues on sale—and, at the publisher level, still a lack of information. The rubber meets the road at the store level, at the merchandising level. And it’s a big, big problem. We’re seeing less of a drop off in airports and bookstores because they are doing a better job merchandising. We’ve heard that people are making more frequent, smaller trips to the stores, fill-in trips—so we need to change up the mix at the front end so it turns more frequently, so the more frequent shopper is offered new products. There needs to be a way to address that mix.

Packer: I am passionate about magazines, so I don’t accept less than 100% compliance. I don’t think industry members are doing a great job of sending the message of why magazines are great. Publishers are concerned about putting out a product, but often have nothing to do with the content or the cover. It’s got to be all about the customer, not about the publisher. What does the customer want?

Annis: We deliver the magazine to the wholesaler, the wholesaler to the retailer, the merchandiser comes in and puts it up. We spend millions of hours, millions of dollars, creating content and getting it out, and leaving it in the hands of a high-turnover merchandiser to put the magazine out in the correct way into the pockets we’ve bought. It isn’t happening. The secondary distributors have a different, maybe a better model—all of their drivers also do the merchandising, and they are on commission, so they take an interest in how things are put out, how the rack is dressed. This could be part of the solution. People who have skin in the game will do a better job.

Husni: Why do we hear nothing but doom and gloom from our own people?

Crowe: The publishers are so removed, so much of the whole process is outsourced.

Annis: We need to get back out in front of retailers. If we took 1% of our sales, we would have $3 million for an advertising campaign to the retailers, to convince them to treat magazines differently. Our business is not down the way you think. Look at the retailers that have kept the space, they have done much better.

Husni: We see Hearst and Conde Nast teaming up—tell us about that.

Michalopoulos: They have combined both staffs of consumer marketing, production, fulfillment, allowing us to handle outside clients. We’ve acquired ProCirc. We’re looking to see if there are opportunities with retailers. Consumer Reports is partnering with Good Housekeeping to sample a wider audience. PubWorks can create these opportunities.

Packer: Publishers need to understand the changing nature of the business. I will not take a magazine under $4 anymore—it just isn’t worth it, it takes up too much space. I sell a ton of Monocle, of Harvard Business Review. It’s time for publishers to start recognizing the premium value of what they offer people, as opposed to treating magazines as a throwaway product created for the advertising. Terminals will become a larger and larger part of the business, because traffic in airports is continuing to grow. And magazines are still the biggest part of the retail revenue in airports.

Crowe: Meredith is 90% subscriptions, so newsstand is relatively inconsequential. The volume is not what we’re worried about, we want to drive efficiencies. We do have our line of SIPS which do more on newsstands.

Husni: Time Inc. puts out 150 so-called “book-a-zines” a year now. Many other publishers are doing them as well. Do you think that is impacting the sale of the regular magazines on the newsstand?

Raatz: It’s certainly affecting units. Is it affecting dollars? At those cover prices, probably not.

Crowe: If they take one of our book-a-zines instead of a cheaper, rate-base title—so be it. It’s still a win.

Husni: Do we need rate base, or is that an antiquated business model?

Crowe: For now my boss is telling me to make the rate base. Our goals are to make profit and to make rate base.

BoSacks (from audience): I’d like to offer a billion dollar idea: how about 100% sell through, no returns?

Annis: We ship Hola Espana Weekly to certain markets, and have two wholesalers with very high discounts, no returns. It hasn’t been sustainable for them.The solution might be a hybrid: we’ll send 100 copies, you have to pay for at least 65 of them.

Raatz: Sell through is a huge issue. We have trained consumers to buy magazines based on abundant display. European shoppers, by comparison, know there is just one big beautiful section in a store with magazines, as opposed to, for example, 24 pockets at checkout. The average sell through in the U.S. is about the same as the average return rate in Europe.

Husni: Can you do this in the U.S.?

Raatz: I don’t think it’s a distribution question, I think it’s a consumer expectation question. In Costco, there is one deep pocket and efficiencies are higher. But do we tell Wal-Mart to take away all of its pockets at checkout and put them in one place in the store?

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A Chancellor’s Welcome and The Magnolia Journal Launch… ACT 7 Experience, Day 3 Part 1

May 5, 2017

The Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 7 Experience opened day 3 with a welcome from Dr. Jeffery Vitter, Chancellor of The University of Mississippi and was followed by Meredith’s Doug Kouma keynote opening address in which he showcased the launch story of The Magnolia Journal magazine…

More ACT 7 Experience videos will be posted as they become available. Stay tuned.

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Tony Silber, Vice President, Folio, Leads A Panel On “Tales Of A Magazine Launch” At The ACT 7 Experience…Linda Ruth Reporting…

May 5, 2017

On the eve of the last day of ACT 7, Tony Silber, vice president of Folio, entertained us as a drummer in the ACT 7 band at Ground Zero Blues Club in the Mississippi Delta town of Clarksdale. The next day, that same Silber was leading a panel of publishers who told us their stories of recent magazine launches.

The range of successful launches represented on stage was enormous. It included Jarry, focusing on cooking and lifestyle for gay men; ROVA, a new print magazine for millennials who love to hit the open road in their RV’s; Take, which tells stories about the artists of New England; Good Grit, a social culture magazine for the South; Good Day, which will introduce the Grange and its mission to an audience beyond its current membership; Art+Design, which is bringing the New Orleans culture to 17 countries worldwide; Via Corsa, offering post-purchase adventure for automobile enthusiasts; and HGTV, a home lifestyle publication inspired by the title brand.

Addressing the topic of the balance between passion and business, publishers weighed in with their experiences of translating their passion into revenue. “If I did it as a performance art piece, I would lie in a fetal position and cry for an hour,” Michael Kusik, publisher of Take magazine volunteered. “But I saw Take as an opportunity to address an audience that is being missed. There are vast numbers of experiences people can have if they get in the car and drive.”

“I think you literally have to have a streak of insanity to start a magazine—I feel that every day,” added Laura Bento, founder and editor of Good Grit. “The reality of being an entrepreneur is that you are one step away from being homeless all the time. ‘So kids, you can sleep in a closet for a while, it’ll be fine.’” Her advice for publishers looking for financing: “Ask for three times more money than you think you need. Or four times. Or ten times…you are going to need way more money than you think you will.”

“The definition of passion is the willingness to suffer for what you love,” said Steve Martin, founder and publisher, Art+Design magazine. “I think every publisher can relate to that. We suffer every day for what we love. At Art+Design, we take everything the magazine has made and put it back into the magazine. In so doing, we’ve grown it from 80 pages to 154 pages, with a circulation of 10,000 per issue.”

“We’ve historically had many millions of members, but for the Grange, as for all similar organizations, there’s been a big drop off in membership,” Amanda Brozana, editor, Good Day! magazine added. “But you don’t need to be agriculturally driven to be part of it. We need to communicate this message—so Good Day! is a necessity. The passion part is needing to tell our stories.”

“At Via Corsa, we go around the world and look for car things to do,” said Ron Adams, founder & publisher, Via Corsa magazine. “It often turns into family adventures, which is a passion in our lives. We’re committed to doing what it takes to bring cool automotive adventures to print. Paradoxically, we are beginning, out of necessity, to move away from that passion to take care of the business side.”

“HGTV Magazine is very much a business,” Dan Fuchs, vice president/chief revenue officer, HGTV Magazine, said, to laughter from the audience. “I’m passionate about the business, but there are levels of responsibility with deadlines, economics, company accountability. From issue one, you need to stick to your positioning. If you waver, your readers and advertisers will check out. There is a commitment to following through on your positioning.”

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