THE PATIENT: All You
AGE: 10 years
PROGNOSIS: Very good
Parents and teachers often instruct kids not to judge others too quickly. But even we grown-up medical pros, who should know better, sometimes make snap calls predicated on little more than what a patient is wearing during our initial encounter. That was our experience with All You, a women’s service book so down market in its presentation that we instantly decided Bauer Publishing’s famously low-rent celeb titles look luxe by comparison. But we may have sized up All You a bit too fast.
Time Inc. magazines don’t just stumble onto the newsstand for a let’s-see experiment; they are famously well tested. All You, which was available exclusively at Walmart stores until April of this year, is now rolling out to racks everywhere. The publisher aims to steal business from some of the big-brand stalwarts in the category, such as Women’s Day and the recently shuttered Ladies’ Home Journal.
Here’s the surprise: While it sports an at-home-mom sensibility (and has attracted a large Christian audience in so doing), All You’s typical reader has a household income that exceeds that of the average Vogue reader. Seriously. It’s therefore easy to see that the book has plenty of room for growth.
"Our readers take incredible pride in managing their family’s budgets. They feel they are the CFOs of their household. They live a proud and thoughtful life," says Nina Willdorf, the magazine’s editor, defending against the Medic’s initial impression of the magazine’s target audience.
While it’s undeniable that All You is barely more than a collection of coupons ("This Magazine Pays for Itself" shouts a cover burst) wrapped around scores of practical money-saving tips, Willdorf insists this is exactly what her readers want. Her book is sharply focused on a certain kind of homemaker: "We feature real women. We are for women who appreciate value." These folks aren’t cheap or dim, Willdorf says; they are busy.
What We Prescribe
An immediate TOC-ectomy. The navigation of All You is "purposefully quick and eclectic," according to its editor. "It’s not traditionally structured." So, excise the two-page TOC or compress it into a box. And maybe, as a real help, index all the national coupons by page number.
Likewise, dump the editor’s column. It’s warm and fuzzy and all—and obviously intended to fortify the connection with these overworked readers—but the space could be better utilized.
As long as we’re trimming waste, remove the back-of-book horoscope. Yes, we’ve seen plenty of studies that say people love horoscopes. But for those who want them, they are abundant elsewhere. And we’ve yet to read one that wasn’t predictably vapid.
Tone down the cover clutter and scratch childish cover language—for example, "NEW!" and "So much inside!!!"—that insults the intelligence of the readers you claim to respect.
Time Inc. is getting a lot of mileage out of a tiny editorial investment. Tweaks are all that’s needed here.