Angie Hicks Bowman, co-founder of the home service rating company that carries her name, is one of the smartest marketers I have ever interviewed. She started her company as "Columbus Neighbors," personally going door to door in Columbus, Ohio to sign up members and collect ratings on local contractors. After her first year of door knocking, her company had 1,000 members. Today, that number is over 1.5 million paid members.
When my wife Lynn became an Angieâ€™s List member, a monthly print magazine started showing up at our Brooklyn brownstone. I was intrigued. In a time when many marketers are scaling back print magazine marketing investment to favor digital media, here was a prominent digital content company publishing a print magazine. Retro marketing? Not on your life. In an interview with Angie I found her rationale for using print magazines so rooted in common sense I wondered why no one had thought of explaining it her way before.
When I asked Angie why she is sticking with print magazines she said, â€śI think people interact with print publications differently than they do with online content. Angieâ€™s List is essentially a problem solving service. When people say, â€śOh, I need a plumberâ€ť they come to us. But our print magazine allows us to interact with members when they are not in need of a plumber.â€ť Angie added that her magazine helps differentiate her company in the crowded online market: â€śItâ€™s one of the neat differentiators about us. We are not only collecting all of this content but actually packaging it into this kind of â€śnews you can use format.â€ť
In addition, Angie said her print magazine helps drive incremental activity by educating members: â€śMaybe someone had not thought about buying a geo thermal heating and cooling system, but read an article about it in Angieâ€™s List magazine. That person may not have gone on our website to read the article but read it in our magazine, and it created incremental interest.â€ť
The magazine also serves as a way to introduce new members, said Angie. â€śAngieâ€™s List members are busy people, and getting the magazine delivered to them can be a very easy, great way to kind of break in.â€ť She continues, â€śI get tons of e-mails but on Saturday I might sit down to read a magazine at home, where I donâ€™t want to be sitting in front of my computer. Our members are very passionate about our magazine and a lot of consumers leave it sitting out on their coffee table.â€ť And members love the magazine. Angie recalls, â€śI remember getting a call from a member who had a hospital stay during which her daughter came in, cleaned her house, and threw away her Angieâ€™s List magazine collection. She was so upset she called and asked if we could send her a whole new set.â€ť
For those of us marketing print products in an ever more digital world, for my money, Angieâ€™s best wisdom came when she described how magazines keep her customers engaged even â€śwhen they are not in need of a plumber.â€ť As more marketers abandon print budgets to fund digital initiatives, her comment reminds us of printâ€™s unique marketing value, which is not easily duplicated online. When a print magazine arrives in a home or office it can be read in any physical location, and does not compete for online time with other websites.
In addition, website content is often â€śpurpose drivenâ€ťâ€”designed for users to choose their own sequence of information as they search for content and solutions to problems. The magazine experience is different, because an editor selects the sequence of content within an area of interest. The magazine read may offer fewer content options, but sometimes itâ€™s really nice to have someone who really knows the neighborhood be the tour guide. Like many websites, Angieâ€™s List is a problem solving service, so a print magazine is the perfect complement.
Need a book? Go to Amazon.com. The latest political news? Politio.com. Tech news? Mashable.com etc.Â But what about when you do not need a book, political news, tech news, or a plumber? Maybe you are sitting on your couch just reading a magazine, maybe the one published by Angieâ€™s List.
PS: Watch a video produced by American Business Media on our initiative to help publishers sell more print adverising byÂ selling the value of 3rd party media HERE.
Josh Gordon is president of SmarterMediaSales.com where he works with publishers to maximize their online and print revenue through training, consulting, and representation.Â
Source Interlink Media's enthusiast sports group, GrindMedia, bought Dirt Sports and Off-Road Industry magazines from Ryan Communications Group this week. The deal sets up a new Dirt Sports group within Grind for Source, which also includes existing titles Dirt Rider, ATV Rider, Endurocross and Motocross.com. Ryan Communications founder Jim Ryan will head up the new group.The deal is the second one for GrindMedia, which bought Baseball America last December. The GrindMedia group is Source's gen-y, young male consumer group, which, says the company, reaches a monthly audience of 20,000,000 along with other brands such as Skateboarder, Bike, Powder and Slam. The latter recently extended its model into Football with the release of TD and TDdaily.com.
Four days in and I really do like Quartz. I like the catchy categories like â€śEnergy Shocks,â€ť and â€śLow Interest Rates,â€ť and â€śModern States.â€ť I like the simple and clean look. And I like the ease of navigation on my iPad and my iPhone5 (just had to throw that inâ€”kinda like a middle school student who inserts, nâ€™est pa? at the end of sentences, because, well, nâ€™est pas?).It has its quirks and bugs to work out (some bylines show up with name and â€śToday at Invalid Dateâ€ť). It runs a tad slow compared with other sites on my devices (today). But they are smart people and will figure this out. I like how theyâ€™ve aggregated some good content (good and obscure, which is why I generally use Zite rather than Flipboard on my iPad). And I also like how there is good newly-created content. So that gets me to who is this for? David Carrâ€™s New York Timesâ€™ piece of Monday suggested, â€śThe editorial product is aimed at the front half of the airplanes that crisscross from Zurich to Sao Paolo to Singapore, serving executives who are increasingly having similar conversations no matter where they land. It was built for tablets, conceived as a mobile product for mobile people.â€ť So, since I do want to be Tyler Brule when I grow up I wonder whatâ€™s his take on it.QZ.com confirms everything weâ€™ve said in b-to-b media since the year one:Â We have highly specialized audiences that are valuable.What is fascinating about this product is that it takes on trying to appeal to a rarified slice of the world through some original and a lot of aggregated content. Will this work, or will users realize that, since this wasnâ€™t their first morning read as they hop scotched across the planet, they are rereading an FT or Reuters or New York Times piece. Might it not be more effective if one only found that content that cannot be found easily? (Note: stay tuned for such a product from Penton to launch shortly)Anyway, nice start and I look forward to sharing with all of my friends in the Delta Sky Clubs around the globe, nâ€™est pas?
The first issue of M magazine, the luxury menâ€™s magazine last seen in 1992 and being revived by Fairchild Fashion Media, came out on Monday with a very distinctive and unusual cover. Itâ€™s not the cover subject, Bradley Cooper (People magazineâ€™s Sexiest Man Alive of 2011), but the design, format, and photographic style that makes M very different from the usual newsstand fare. According to M creative director Nancy Butkus, the cover design was influenced both by European menâ€™s magazines like Port and Huck, as well as vintage issues of Fortune. â€śWe had a stunning 1930s Fortune as our cover inspiration, and in some way we just updated what they were doingâ€”they had borders on the cover and so do we, but ours are asymmetrical.â€ť Like Fortune, Mâ€™s cover was printed on a rich, thick, uncoated stock, with a felt finish, making it both a visual and tactile treat. Iâ€™m guessing, however, that M will not be mailed to its subscribers in heavy cardboard cases the way Fortune was until the early 1950s. The idea that upscale magazine consumers will respond positively to superior production values has been floating around for a while; itâ€™s nice to see someone actually trying it out.Although I would have loved to see M try to resurrect the very-80s expanded logo from the original magazine, they hired noted logo designer Jim Parkinson to draw a smart, modern, updated version. Parkinson has been creating and revising magazine and newspaper logos for years, but this is his best and most impressive work in some time (and thatâ€™s saying something!). Itâ€™s also very different for the CondĂ© Nast/Fairchild magazines, most of which tend to have flat, relatively straight-forward type logos that arenâ€™t nearly as â€śdesignedâ€ť as this one.Thereâ€™s a lot thatâ€™s â€śoffâ€ť on this cover: the varied white bands on the right side and bottom, the quote running down the side, the use of the issue theme â€śAmbitionâ€ť as the main headline. Thereâ€™s a definite effort to make M feel stylish and a bit European, and for a luxury menâ€™s magazine trying to distinguish itself from the crowd, thatâ€™s probably a smart move.The photograph of Bradley Cooper, by Jason McDonald, is also very different from what appears on other American menâ€™s magazines. It feels simple and authentic, almost non-stylish, and ridiculously friendly and intimate. Not to mention the power of those blue eyes, which are undoubtedly making members of both sexes weak in the knees.
Like everything else on the cover, itâ€™s a smart way to establish a visual identity for a new magazine. The challenge for M will be in pursuing this idiosyncratic and slightly skewed cover approach every issue (itâ€™s a quarterly), and not giving in to the demands for a more straight-forward, traditional design.
More people interact with business newspaper The Financial Times through social media than directly with the brand, according to a recent infographic released by the publication.
In late July, The Financial Timesâ€™ digital subscribers grew to about 300,000 paying readers, an increase of about 31 percent when compared to the same time in 2011, with the publicationâ€™s total circulation increasing to almost 600,000.
Meanwhile, the FT social community reaches 3.9 million peopleâ€”2.2 million on Twitter, 1.3 million on Google+, 430,000 on Facebook and a surprising 18,000 on LinkedIn. To put this into perspective, there are about 500 percent more people interacting with the brand on social media than there are paying for its content.
News, analysis and opinion pieces are what FT readers want from the brand on social media, although when on Facebook, these consumers also like to see offers or competitions.
According to the FT, about 20 percent of its traffic in the last six months came from social media, a medium that â€śis growing faster than every other traffic source at FT.com. The volume of visits to FT.com driven by social media is at the highest level ever.â€ť
What do these numbers mean? According to a recent report from the Pew Research Centerâ€™s Internet and American Life Project, 66 percent of online adults use Facebook; 20 percent uses LinkedIn and 16 percent use Twitter. About 83 percent of adults aged 18-29 use Facebook, with the second highest group being 30-49-year-olds at 72 percent.
FT readers are on average 41 years old. However, based on the data from Pew, the majority of its social audience is likely a younger demographic than its typical subscriber (digital or otherwise)â€”a group that is not only coveted for advertisers, but likely enticing for its future growth. Young adults are less likely to pay for content, though theyâ€™re more likely to share it.
The puzzle for The Financial Times to solve will be the conversion of their young social media followers into paying subscribers.
T.J. Raphael is a FOLIO: magazine Associate Editor. Follow her on Twitter.
Not so long ago, magazine and newspaper editors knew exactly what they were looking for when hiring young journalists. Certain jobs called for certain skills: Reporters had to report, researchers had to research, designers had to design. Â These days, things are more complicated. Most of the new jobs in journalism are on the digital side, where a broader and somewhat different set of skills is required than we print hires possessed a generation or two ago. What editors need now is a new breed of journalist.Â Over the last few years at The Atlantic, Iâ€™ve played a part in hiring several dozen young digital journalistsâ€”into new jobs, thanks to our web expansion, or into open slots created by departing employees. (We have, of course, brought on lots of experienced journalists, too.) What weâ€™re looking for, Iâ€™ve come to realize, is people who can do a bit of everything:Â report and write stories; write headlines and deks; select and crop photos; fact check and copy edit the work of others; make charts and graphs; oversee social media; manage outside writers. (And hey, can you do some coding?)Â The upshot: Today, everyone is an editor-in-chief.Â This transition from vertical job descriptions to horizontal job descriptions is perhaps the most profound change in newsrooms that are full of change. I canâ€™t say whether this is a sign of trouble or triumph for journalism. Probably both. But it is definitely a matter of fact.Â As an industry, weâ€™ve come to the point where we are asking a lot of relatively inexperienced twentysomethings, perhaps too much. The range of duties, combined with the need for speed, can lead to mistakes. But my sense is that thereâ€™s no going back. The new platforms and the new business environment demand a shift from more genteel times. The good news is that as much as we expect of these new hires, itâ€™s been my experience that they can do the work.Â Thereâ€™s a surprising amount of talent and energy and sophistication out there.Â Finding this talent marries traditional recruiting methods with an eye toward the new realities. On the traditional side, it still pays to cast a wide net, even if that means sifting through more than a hundred resumes for every opening. And weâ€™re still looking at customary markers of excellence: success in past jobs, intellectual curiosity, dynamic thinking.Â But the new world prizes other skills, too. The best hires possess a kind of creativity and entrepreneurialism that my peers and I surely didnâ€™t have at that age. Todayâ€™s young web journalists are learning to frame and write stories in innovative ways. And as smart at they are, theyâ€™re also playful, ready to bring some fun to the game. We also look for a candidateâ€™s ability to make lateral connections across topics. In interviewing business writers, we might ask about tax policy and retail trends but weâ€™re most interested in how candidates think about non-business topicsâ€”and whether they have the instinct to apply a business or economics lens to everyday subjects. Likewise, we look for what Gabriel Snyder, editor of The Atlantic Wire, calls â€śkeyboard presence.â€ť Just as actors can have stage presence and athletes can have field presence, a good web writer is a natural in front of the screen. Â And then thereâ€™s speed. Digital hires ought to be able to move quickly from task to task, keep active multiple windowsâ€”on their screens and in their heads. But not, alas, at the expense of accuracy. In a world where thereâ€™s typically one layer of editing instead of two or three (or more), you gotta get it right.In pursuit of journalists with these new skills, weâ€™ve found that it can pay to look in unlikely places. Alan Taylor, who oversees The Atlanticâ€™s crowd-pleasing â€śIn Focusâ€ť photo blog, was a web developer at the Boston Globe when he started assembling image galleries on the side. James Hamblin, The Atlanticâ€™s new health editor, is a medical doctor who had just finished his internship in radiology when he joined us as a full-time editor and writer. Neither Alan nor Jim came to us with anything close to a traditional journalism background. But they have the right sensibilitiesâ€”and the skills to succeed in a new age.
If this were a bad teen movie, the magazine publishing industry would not be (surprisingly) playing the glamorous cheerleader, but Apple would still be the big man on campus.
It seems that the industry has a case of unrequited love with Apple, at least according to recent findings from research firm MagazineRadar.
Apple hasnâ€™t advertised the iPad in an MPA member magazine since July 2011. Last summer, Apple made a brief appearance within the industryâ€™s pages, with the latest iPad campaign in magazines appearing from May-July 2011. During that time there were 21 ad pages placed strategically among 21 MPA monthly magazines, all with the same creative.
Apple did also place 18 back page cover ads in 9 MPA weekly and bi-weekly magazines during the same period. The seeming coolness from Apple doesnâ€™t stop in printâ€”the company has not advertised the iPad on MPA magazine websites at all in 2012.
Why would they? Magazine publishers have been doting over the product and Apple not only with each other at industry events, or to media journalists like this reporter, but they have, essentially, been running ads for them.
Magazines (trade or otherwise) are not just writing about the iPad, says MagazineRadar, but they are showing it offâ€”in 2012, about 32 percent of all edit credits, which the research firm considers a â€śsingle mention or image of a brand in a magazineâ€™s editorial,â€ť appeared as images rather than text.
Appleâ€™s apparent lack of enthusiasm for magazine advertising extends beyond the iPad, too. From September 2011 to August 2012 there were 216 ads for the iPhone placed in 200 MPA magazines. In comparison, the iPad received 1,847 edit credits so far in 2012. Additionally, Apple dominates other technology brands when it comes to editorial mentions (see below).
Apple is likely undertaking a strong advertising campaign for its new additionâ€”the iPhone 5. Whether or not they pay attention to the adoring magazine industry remains to be seen. MagazineRadar, however, says one thing is certain: publications will continue writing about Apple and its products.
Â T.J. Raphael is a FOLIO: magazine Associate Editor. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael1.
Fast Companyâ€™s annual design issue celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first cover that legendary art director George Lois created for Esquire magazine. This photograph, by noted photographer Platon, is available only in the iPad app version of Fast Companyâ€™s October 2012 issue, which is out today, September 12. On the October 1962 cover of Esquire (which Lois is holding), he accurately predicted that boxer Sonny Liston would defeat Floyd Patterson in their upcoming heavyweight championship fight. That opinion at the time was decidedly in the minority, so much so that the publisherâ€™s letter inside the magazine disavowed Loisâ€™s prediction, saying â€śweâ€™d prefer to believe that Liston can be stopped, and that Patterson is the one that can do it.â€ť (Note: Liston knocked out Patterson in the fightâ€™s first round). Says Lois, â€śThe press wrote about the chutzpah of calling a fight on a magazine cover, and the issue was a sellout.â€ťRead more by George Lois on his first Esquire cover (and many others) here. The Fast Company October 2012 iPad app is available here. The October issue features Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann on the cover. (Photograph: Art Streiber, creative director: Florian Bachleda.)
FOLIO: unveiled a one-day, nuts-and-bolts training workshop this week focused on presenting essential new skills for content creation and deployment. The workshop will be conducted three times in 2012â€”in Los Angeles (October 10), New York (November 14) and San Francisco (December 4). Called C2, the workshop is built on more than 70 case studies and best practices from around the media industry. FOLIO: general manager Tony Silber and editor Bill Mickey will host the event.â€śThereâ€™s never been a more exciting time to be in media,â€ť Silber said. â€śThere are new channels, new formats, new expectations and new opportunities. The basic relationship between content creators and content consumers has evolved.â€ťThe workshop's core curriculum is an analysis of case studies that show how media companies are leveraging social, cross-platform tactics, video and much more to build content creation strategies that address today's reader behavior. Learn whatâ€™s on the minds of the innovators in consumer, b-to-b, association media, city and regional, and hear whatâ€™s right around the corner.To register and to learn more, click here.
Hearst Magazineâ€™s resident PR guru, Jessica Kleiman, hit the nail on the head when prepping newly appointed Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles for an upcoming interview (see video below), asking the question on the minds of several media reporters:
â€śGiven the direction you took Marie Claire, do you have plans to make Cosmo more sophisticated?â€ť
This could be a seminal moment for Hearst Magazines, Cosmopolitan and Coles herself. The title has been slammed recently by Victoria Hearst, the granddaughter of Hearst Corp. founder William Randolph Hearst. According to a press statement released in June, Ms. Hearst partnered with ProjectInspired.com founder Nicole Weider in an â€śAnti-Cosmo Mission.â€ť
â€śAbout 11 years ago, I contacted Frank Bennack and the Board of the Hearst Corporation and told them that what they are publishing in Cosmopolitan magazine was pornographic. I had the support of two female psychologists and counselors who attest that this content hurts young girls. Like Nicole (Weider), I also asked that the magazine be sold only to adults 18 and older,â€ť said Ms. Hearst in the June statement. â€śWhen I heard about Nicoleâ€™s campaign, I knew I needed to join in her mission to put Cosmopolitan in a bag and make sure that its pornographic content cannot be sold to minors!â€ť
SEE ALSO: Post-Photoshop Crisis, Hearst Receives Shrink Wrap Demand
You would be hard pressed to find any issue of Cosmopolitan from recent memory whose content didnâ€™t prominently center on sex. Cosmopolitan is so synonymous with sexual content that when reporting on the new Fifty Shades of Grey Magazine (which is based on erotic literature), the Huffington Postâ€™s Julie Gerstenblatt said:
â€śThis magazine is like Cosmo with fewer articles about sex.â€ť
Cosmo's sex focus has worked well for it. It's the biggest selling beauty/fashion title on the newsstands. But that same formula focus could wear thin in the longer term (the magazine did slide 15 percent on the newsstand in the first half, after all), which may be an opportunity for Coles, who's Marie Claire was turned not only into a fashion staple, but a place where women can actually learn something other than â€ś50 Kinky Sex Moves.â€ť
Under Coles, the Marie Claire @Work content department was turned into a new polly-bagged quarterly magazine supplement, focused on tips and strategies for women juggling work and life, career advancement and employment challenges. The magazine also launched a series of career panel luncheons to engage women, and a mentorship program that will be executed around the country. LinkedIn was also being used to increase the buzz around Marie Claire @Workâ€”the publication designed the Marie Claire Career Network on the social platform to give women an avenue for digital business networking and discussions.
â€śCosmo is a huge global brand empowering women,â€ť Coles told Klieman.
Cosmo does empower womenâ€”to hop in bed. It is true that the brand covers other topics of interest, but its ace in the whole is always sex. Marie Claire, on the other hand, is more representative of a true general interest magazine, consistently exploring multiple aspects of womenâ€™s lives, and not just as a backdrop.
According to MagazineRadar, Marie Claire exceeded their previous all-time single issue ad-page record this September, earning the sixth spot of the top 10 womenâ€™s fashion magazines with the most increased ad-pages. Further, according to min box scores, Cosmopolitan posted ad-page losses for seven months when comparing 2011 to 2012 figures from February to September. On the other hand, Marie Claire saw two months of losses, and six months of growth over 10 percent when comparing the same periods.
This post should not imply that Coles should turn Cosmo into Marie Claireâ€”they each need their own distinct voice for their own distinct audiences. It will be interesting, however, to see the direction the new editor-in-chief takes the brand. Historically, when a publication gets a new leader the first thing they think of is a redesign, an examination of content sections and the direction they wish to take a brand in order to receive appropriate recognition. With eyes watching the behemoth that is a legacy brand like Cosmopolitan, expect Coles to make her mark.
T.J. Raphael is an Associate Editor at FOLIO: Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael1.
A new report conducted by app store analytics firm Distimo finds that the United States is the most "socially savvy" country by virtue of its download volume of social apps. According to Distimo, out of the most popular apps downloaded, 20 percent of the volume is apps from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like. In countries in Europe and South East Asia, social app download volume doesn't exceed 10 percent. These findings are part of a larger look at how social media app downloads compare to other apps. As an example, the report finds that while download volume among the 100 most popular apps in Apple's App Store increased 43 percent over the last two years, the top 100 social applications increased 193 percent between July 2010 and July 2012. Further, Facebook lost its prominence by July 2012 as the top downloaded social app, falling to the third spot behind Instagram and Twitter (as measured across Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Korea, United Kingdom, and the U.S.).For the full report, click here.
Some of us "older" publishing pros often quip it's the "digitally-savvy youngsters" that are driving the new publishing eraâ€”not just as consumers, but as talented members of the magazine publishing community. In that spirit, it's time once again to turn the FOLIO: spotlight on the younger set and profile the next group of rising stars and innovators across traditional publishing roles, never-before-seen positions in new lines of business, and market-shaping start-ups: FOLIO:'s 15 Under 30.
Last year's list featured a cross-section of talent responsible for social media, interactive marketing, community management and new digital companies. These are all excellent, and we're equally impressed with individuals who are leading the way in defining new competitive opportunities for existing, more traditional products. The nomination process is officially openâ€”tell us who you think deserves to be on the list by filling out our simple online form. Our list-makers will appear in the October issue.The only catch? All nominees must be younger than 30.The deadline for nominations is Monday, September 10. Good luck and thanks for participating!