In events, unlike real estate, location is not everything. Set up in Central Park or at Chicago’s Navy Pier and you’re sure to get nice-sized crowds. But is it necessarily the traffic you want? Most magazine events aren’t about mass; they’re about reaching the right audience. Consumer-magazine publishers need to tap into not only their own lists but the reach of their sponsors and marketing partners to deliver the audience that everyone wants.
Multiple Messages, Multiple Media
To promote ﾑEurope in NYC,’ a live program held last month that compliments a special section focused on traveling in Europe that runs in the October issues of sister magazines Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure, American Express Publishing went beyond the typical magazine callout. “We start by running ads in the magazine, followed up by direct-mail invitations to subscribers;mostly in the tri-state area;and promoting the event online,” says Food & Wine associate publisher Chris Grdovic. “But you need to deliver the message more than once, in variety of ways.”
That includes working with a local segment of a group of 450 wine merchants that act as marketing partners with Food & Wine. The magazine created point-of-purchase cards that serve as invitations delivered to upscale wine shops. The event includes programs such as a Culinary World Cup that features chefs from different countries competing in a cook up. Food & Wine also works with talent that’s going to be at event that can promote the event through their own Web sites and newsletters. “We tap anyone we think has their own following,” says Grdovic.
Managing the Attendee List
Advertisers;typically tourist bureaus and service providers such as airlines and railways;participate in the live event as a value-add. The price for advertising in the special section is around $80,000. American Express Gold Card;a sponsor of ﾑEurope in NYC’;is also marketing the event directly to cardholders. “Some of these smaller European countries don’t have a large database of prospects, but when you partner with something like American Express, there’s a lot of give and take,” says Grdovic.
Food & Wine can break out subscribers by where they live, income, where they’ve traveled. “Our subscriber base is very responsive, we get a good rate of return,” says Grdovic. While Food & Wine allows sponsors to collect information at the event if attendees choose to share, only American Express gets a formal attendee list. “We have a list of attendees that we don’t share except with American Express, who is the presenting sponsor,” says Grdovic. “We try to protect attendees, we don’t want them to come away getting 50 pieces of mail they weren’t interested in.”
For ﾑEurope in NYC,’ the American Express Publishing merchandising team, which is part of the marketing department, worked closely with ad sales to promote the event to both sponsors and attendees. Last year’s event drew 800 attendees; at presstime the goal for 2005 was 800 to 1,000.
Grdovic advises magazines to mix up the promotion for events each year. “Try not to do everything the same;just because it worked last year doesn’t mean we should do it again same way this year,” she says.
Meanwhile, TEN/The Enthusiast Network, publisher of TRUCKS , Ford Truck World, Dodge Truck World and Chevy Truck World, leverages its own enthusiast community to drive traffic, including promotion across Web forums. For the premier of Dust to Glory, a movie about the Baja 1000 road race, TEN hosted a screening in San Diego and ran an online promotion that was picked up by regional chapters.
Hachette Filipacchi piggybacks many of its events on larger existing events to draw traffic, particularly for the HFM Lounge Network, a series of mobile tours that includes the Premiere Film & Music Lounge and the Style Lounge, which are centered around the Sundance Film Festival and New York’s Fashion Week, respectively. “There’s always a lot of buzz and a lot of consumer involvement,” says Al Silvestri, director of marketing and creative services. “Getting consumers to turn out is usually the least of our problems.”
Devote Enough Time To Selling Sponsorships
Last month, Country Home hosted Be Creative New York, a day-long outdoor festival in New York City featuring seminars on home design and cooking tips, as well as live performances by Mary Chapin Carpenter. The event;which was open to the public, not just subscribers;drew 4,500 attendees. Country Home replicated editorial sections of the magazine such as The Nest, The Dish and Shop Girl;as tented areas in Central Park. Each tent had an editor/host who hosted a series of special guest speakers who gave hands-on demonstrations. “People have been saying ﾑbringing the magazine to life’ for 15 years but I think we actually figured it out,” says publisher Carey Witmer. “All roads led back to the magazine.”
To promote the event, Country Home built a microsite that housed event and online ticket sales, as well as ran ads in the magazine and did cross-promotion with American Baby to target families. The magazine sent out 10,000 invitations using the Meredith database while street teams from promotion shop Lead Dog Marketing handed out postcards in New York and put up posters in 150 high traffic retailers.
Sometimes sponsors need more convincing than attendees. Country Home started promoting the event to consumers in May and started selling sponsorships in January, “which was way too late,” according to Witmer. “It was a real challenge to sell this and articulate the benefits to advertisers. In the end it more than paid for itself but we started out pitching to advertisers we weren’t doing business with;that was good strategy but working with advertisers who hadn’t already bought into the DNA of Country Home made it that much more challenging. Once we got smarter about it we started approaching existing advertisers and were much more successful.”
Be Creative In New York offered three different levels of sponsorship that required either straight fees (ranging from $2,500 to $25,000) to incremental ad pages. “What I learned from selling sponsorships of this nature is you’ve got to have a little flexibility,” says Witmer. “It was difficult because our team is used to selling ad pages and this is something entirely different. We were also building programming as we were selling it, often times we didn’t know as we were selling it what was going to be involved. The first year of anything is really challenging.”
Leveraging Events for the Magazine
While most consumer magazines are offering participation in live events as a value-add for advertising in the magazine, Yoga Journal is forbidden from doing so. The magazine’s series of yoga conferences and seminars, which draw thousands of attendees, have become so popular that events are now a separate business with its own P&L. Events generate between $2.5 million and $3.5 million in annual revenue for Yoga Journal. “I don’t get to use conference sponsorships as value-added,” says publisher Lynn Lehmkuhl. “I use it as a sponsorable opportunity. Everything we do has a price tag, whether it’s paid for by advertisers or we do an upcharge on advertising in the magazine.”
Recently, two small advertisers that claimed not to have the resources to advertise in the magazine committed to print schedules based on their experience at Yoga Journal events. Amy’s Kitchen, a manufacturer of organic meals, sponsored pizza at a Yoga Journal gathering at Estes Park, while Bob’s Flour received signage saying, “all bread made with Bob’s Flour.” Both advertisers came back from the conference having committed to an ad schedule.