Yesterday, while purchasing sandals for my son at Famous Footwear, the cashier handed me a magazine with my receipt, saying, “And here’s a free fitness magazine to thank you for your purchase today.”
“Cool!” I thought. Something for nothing is always a neat thing. And in this case, the brightly-designed and aptly named (Mind Body Sole) magazine seemed to be something right up my alley. The cover beckoned me to flip it open, with headlines like:
- INSIDE >>>Exclusive Savings Offers
- Tone up for Summer!
- Comfort Food Makeovers
- A Pizza Diet? Is it for real?
Inside the 60 page rag I found strong graphics, good photography and well-written articles peppered with ads for athletic shoes—brands all found at Famous Footwear. Genius.
Famous Footwear took a risk to spend the money to design, edit and print this magazine. One that, in my opinion, paid off. How?
- The articles were well-written and edited and provided content of value (and relevance) to their readers.
- The design looked professional and reinforced Famous Footwear’s brand elements.
- The product ads reinforced Famous Footwear’s product lines (and allowed the vendors themselves to present their products within their own brand campaigns).
- The magazine connected with the readers beyond the experience of buying shoes, building brand loyalty.
- The magazine drove readers to their website, allowing additional opportunities to interact with (and collect data) about their customers.
- The magazine included a special offer, to entice current customers into becoming repeat customers.
So is magazine marketing right for you? Before you jump in, beware of the following:
- Creating a magazine isn’t cheap. To do it right, you’ll absolutely need a graphic designer/creative director, editor, copywriters, photographers, models, stock photography, a sales representative, and project manager.
- Publishing your own magazine takes time. Don’t expect it to happen in a couple of weeks. Depending on the content, you’ll need several months for planning and writing, a month for design and layout, and several weeks for printing/proofing. If you’re planning to publish more than one magazine, come up with an editorial calendar and production schedule to keep it on track. Note of caution: be careful not to call it a quarterly if you won’t follow through and publish it on a quarterly basis—you’ll lose faith with readers and advertisers.
- The quality of the magazine should please your vendors. Vendors can help offset the cost of producing and printing a magazine, but if the end product doesn’t result in a return on their investment, you may end up harming that relationship. Make sure your magazine is created professionally, to a level that meets or exceeds the quality of your vendor’s ads.
- You’ll need a plan for distribution. Consider whether you’ll send your magazine via direct mail, hand it out in stores, or rely on a third-party distributor to help it “get out there.” You’ll also need to decide if you’ll charge readers or make it a free publication.
- Your content should be of value to your readers. Although it’s tempting to fill the magazine with plugs for your business, this should not be the focus of the content. Readers are savvy! They’ll quickly toss a magazine that feels like a big advertisement. Instead, focus on quality, relevant articles that connect with readers in way that fits the lifestyle message of your brand. They’ll get it. Trust me.
In summary, a magazine could be a great resource for your business—and your vendors—to connect with target audiences when done well. Not quite ready to commit? Consider a four or eight-page booklet or online brochure instead—they’re a great way to showcase your brand and your products without the huge page count.