Why Vance’s Portfolio Merger Makes Sense
Building around community and a stronger print product.
Vance Publishing is consolidating its woodworking portfolio into a single title, Woodworking Network, in a move it hopes will save money and strengthen its growing core.
Formerly three separate magazines—Custom Woodworking Business, Closets and Wood Products—the new entity officially merges those audiences. They’d already begun to get closer over the last several years through joint community channels however.
Woodworking Network has actually existed as a website for almost two decades, though in 2010, Vance shifted its focus. The brand got its current moniker and went community-first with an emphasis on, as the name suggests, networking. Events and social media were inclusive of Vance’s entire woodworking portfolio, serving as the vehicles for those peer-to-peer relationships.
"They were never separate communities as we’ve always brought them together through our events and website. The only area that was separate was in the circulation databases," says Laurel Didier, publisher of the magazine.
They’ve merged those lists now, leaving them with just under 63,000 subscribers—the largest database in the industry, the company says.
WoodworkingNetwork.com also draws about 80,000 unique visitors per month, while the group’s largest event, the biennial Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo, drew more than 5,200 attendees to its last show, up 5 percent over 2011 and 15 percent over 2009. Didier says it’s smaller show, Cabinets & Closets, is on track to top last year by 25 percent.
Reducing production output by two-thirds has obvious benefits from a cost perspective as well, but Vance is putting a lot of that money back into the product. Folios that could be as small as 52 pages are doubling now in an aggressive image-heavy redesign, while a new responsive site is coming in January. And no staff cuts were associated with the consolidation, Didier says.
While killing the existing brands is admittedly a risk—Wood Products alone is over a century old, starting in 1896—creating a single resource has its benefits.
"The marketplace often got confused with all the wood book names. It made sense to stick with one trusted brand," Didier says. "Woodworking Network resonates with our audience. They like and expect to see the daily newsletter every morning at 6 am. WoodworkingNetwork.com has enjoyed consistent growth in terms of advertising support, unique visitors and overall page views. Having one brand makes our name and message stronger."