Magazine single copy sales may be tanking, but at least one publisher is going to great lengths to market its brands at retail.
Maker Media, publisher of the DIY tech magazine Make:, is partnering with Barnes & Noble to bring small-scale versions of its Maker Faires into the stores.
Make:, which counts about 200,000 total readers per issue, is planning Mini Maker Faires in Barnes & Noble stores across the country in early November.
The program will launch across all 650 retail stores, with marketing support from both companies.
“The marketing efforts are very holistic, straddling local and national engagement with driving support from the corporate Barnes & Noble team, including Stephanie Fryling, VP Newsstand and Kathleen Campisano, VP of Toy and Game,” a spokesperson says. “We’re activating the program at the local level to reflect the needs and wants of those communities, but also promoting the event through our national network of Makers, Maker Faires and our digital properties.”
Over three days, customers can participate in robotics and 3D printing projects, for example, and hear from prominent makers from their communities.
The in-store events are like experiential event marketing for an event. Barnes & Noble, after all, is Maker Media’s top seller of Make:. More than 10,000 copies of each bimonthly issue are sold at the retailer. And Maker Media put on more than 130 larger-format Maker Faires around the world in 2014, says the company.
The partnership is interesting because it’s happening during a particularly grim period in newsstand sales. For the first-half of 2015, sales efficiencies hit an all-time low of 26.8 percent and retail sales shrank another 14 percent, compared to the same period last year.
Yet some smaller niche brands have been immune to broader industry problems. And Maker Media isn’t necessarily focused on the newsstand aspect, anyway. The chain-wide rollout will expose its brands to a much wider audience, says Maker Media CEO Gregg Brockway. “We’re interested in introducing more people to making and the Maker Faire and it’s good for us to get in front of a broader audience and it’s good for Barnes & Noble because they want to experiment with more in-store activities.”
Barnes & Noble stock closed down almost 30 percent in September when it reported a $34.9 million loss for the quarter, fueling doom-and-gloom scenarios for brick-and-mortar booksellers. But programs like this one could bring more traffic into the store, and Maker Media will be selling its branded starter kits at the events as well—closing the promotional loop on all three of the company’s brand platforms: media, events and commerce.
The company’s event expansion comes on the heels of a $5 million funding round raised last June. It’s the second raise for Maker Media since it spun off from O’Reilly Media two years ago. In all, it has raised $10 million, most of which will be invested to expand the digital and events platforms. The 130 Maker Faires last year attracted 800,000 attendees and Brockway estimates they’ll surpass one million in 2015.