For 15 years, Next Step Publishing has served high school students with a print magazine to help steer them into college. Today, the company is tweaking its brand to remind advertisers that it offers more that just print solutions for their needs. Moving forward, it will be known as NextStepU.
“What we’ve found is that to be on the market and to be known as a print magazine only, buyers instantly classify you as old media and end the conversation quickly,” founder and CEO David Mammano tells FOLIO:. “They want to partner with someone who is positioned more as a media company. The thing is, we’ve done a good job keeping up with a lot of the technology—online and digital. Instead of having to explain ourselves, we’ve decided to smash the perception of the company while maintaining the core business.”
In addition to the print magazine—which publishes bi-monthly during the school year and is distributed to 20,500 high schools across the country—Next Step also has the company’s Web site and digital lead generation business. It is looking to distribute content on mobile platforms and plans to have an edition for the iPad this fall.
Last year, the company launched BackToLearn.com, a Web site for adults who are considering to begin or return to college.
Mammano says the rebranding has generated some good response so far among advertisers, which tend mostly to be colleges and universities. “Usually for every 10 phone calls I make to dead accounts, I might get one appointment,” he says. “Since pitching the new evolution of Next Step and our new range of resources, I managed to make five appointments out of 12 calls. That’s pretty good.”
Despite the refocus on digital, Mammano is quick to not discount the value of print. “At the end of the day print offers the allure of being an expert, acts as a brand ambassador and is a traffic driver,” he says. “It’s still a big part of what we do. But now we’re a full resource media company, able to offer the full surround sound of marketing services.”