REBECCA WESSON DARWIN
PRESIDENT & CEO, GARDEN & GUN
WHERE ARE YOU FOCUSING YOUR INITIATIVES BASED ON YOUR SENSE OF MARKET OPPORTUNITIES?
Without losing sight of our print product, we are continuing our focus on digital. We’ll be launching a redesign of GardenAndGun.com in January 2017 that will give our online audience more of what they want, including more content, a dedicated recipe finder, enhanced city guides, and a vastly improved user experience on all platforms. In addition, we’re launching a new food-focused email newsletter along with many more opportunities for native content partnerships.
In addition, we are growing new businesses around our content and storytelling, from exploring podcasts, to forming our own creative agency. We find that both readers and advertisers desire more of the Garden & Gun “magic.” To that end, in 2016 we opened our first brick and mortar retail venture, called Fieldshop. It tells the G&G story of “Hunt” and “Gather” through two finely curated stores in a new luxury Charleston hotel.
Finally, in 2017, a major initiative will be to better understand our loyal audience and to build a more robust marketing database so that we can maximize what and how we deliver our content as well as other product offerings. To better understand who our customers are, what they want, how they buy, etc., we will be working with our fulfillment vendor as well as larger third party data organizations to append our current fulfillment database and also make improvements in the way we capture customer activity not only related to subscriptions, but also events, e-commerce, and social engagement.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENTS ARE NEEDED TO ACCOMPLISH THESE GOALS?
As we approach our tenth anniversary in 2017, we are embarking on a technology assessment to make sure that we have the correct systems in place for our future initiatives. On our website, in addition to investments in an updated CMS, we’re partnering with vendors who will improve our users’ experiences, such as a company that develops custom designed maps.
WHAT INVESTMENTS IN PERSONNEL ARE NEEDED?
We will continue to increase our investment in sales and marketing people to not only grow our increases in print advertising (more than 14 percent year-over-year in 2016) but to also sell across our expanding platforms. Our digital strategy will mean adding to the bench in that area and our endeavors in the creative agency sphere have already been supported by hiring of talent in 2016.
HOW DO YOUR INVESTMENTS IN TECHNOLOGIES, PEOPLE, AND OTHER RESOURCES DIFFER FOR 2017 THAN IN THE PRIOR FIVE YEARS?
2017 will be a year of evolution for Garden & Gun as an organization. As we prepare to celebrate our tenth anniversary, we aim to sharpen our operations. As a result, we intend to make significant investments in the areas of finance, operations, human resources, and IT.
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL YOU INVEST IN YOUR TOP PRIORITY IN 2017?
As a private company, we do not disclose financial details. However, while some of the initiatives discussed here will require an in- vestment, many of the ideas we are exploring will be achieved by cultivating relationships with complementary strategic partners to further grow our brand and develop new offerings.