Google “decline of print media” and you’ll get more than 8.1 million search results. Many, if not most, are articles and blog posts forecasting the demise of printed newspapers.
Just the other day, in fact, Seth Godin predicted in a post that, by the year 2012, there will be “no significant newspapers printed on newsprint in the U.S.”
Dire predictions for magazines aren’t quite as voluminous or vociferous. But in today’s business the drumbeat for digital media is so loud and constant, it would be easy for marketers to be left with the message “Print is dead!” ringing in their ears.
Here then, a post that sings the praises of printed publications. More specifically, the custom (i.e., corporate-sponsored) magazine.
The Ultimate Direct Marketing Piece
While a custom magazine is by no means the right marketing solution for every organization in every industry, it remains — done right — an extremely effective tool for building brand, sparking engagement and creating game-changing impact among an audience that matters to your business success.
If you’ve never considered adding a custom magazine to your marketing mix, it’s worth a look. I like to call a well-done magazine the most powerful direct marketing piece you can deliver to customers and potential customers.
But aren’t magazines expensive, you might ask, especially given the costs of paper and postage? Granted, a well-executed, measurably effective magazine does not come cheap.
But when budgeting one recently, it dawned on me: The client (using not atypical specs) could produce a high-impact magazine, and mail it four times each year to tens of thousands of people, for about what it would cost to buy each of those contacts a nice lunch at a mid-price restaurant.
So, what’s it worth to essentially pick up lunch for your most important customers or prospects? But instead of feeding them once, which is fleeting, you touch them multiple times. And each touch nurtures the relationship by delivering a differentiated, relevant experience that none of your competitors comes close to matching.
You’ve gotta admit, it’s food for thought.
Printed Magazines Keep Keeping On
You needn’t look far to find custom magazines at the center of remarkably successful marketing efforts in all sorts of industries, from financial services and automotive to manufacturing and retail. In fact, I don’t have to look at all. I work daily with content strategists, editors and designers who produce one of the most award-winning, strategically effective B-to-B custom magazines in recent U.S. business history.
I’m also a neighbor of Readex Research, among the most experienced firms in the country when it comes to testing attitudes and engagement among publication readers.
Between 1999 and 2007, Readex conducted more than 770 studies of magazine readers — the large majority B-to-B publications, but also some consumer and custom. In the context of marketing, these surveys are the equivalent of core samples drilled from the polar ice caps. They might have something almost geologic to tell us about content in magazine format. Here’s what the samples show:
After receiving four magazines over the course of the previous year, the majority of readers surveyed (again, over nearly a decade, and across more than 700 different surveys) said they had:
- read each of the issues
- read more than half of the content in each issue
- devoted nearly an hour to each issue
“These results,” noted Readex in a recent newsletter, “indicate that printed publications cut through the information clutter and still deliver an engaged circulation. On average, the common metrics typically used to measure reader involvement with print publications haven’t experienced erosion.
“Printed publications aren’t nearing the end of their life,” Readex concluded, “nor do they seem to be slipping away.”