Magazines Giving Readers A Real Reason To Buy
from the very-cool dept
While most of the coverage of the old school paper media industry struggling to update their business models has focused on newspapers, there are lots of questions around the magazine industry as well. Magazines are losing ad revenue and trying to reinvent themselves to retain readers. Some are giving up and shutting down completely. However, I’ve seen a few stories lately pointing to smaller, less well known magazines that are really doing some unique things to give readers a real reason to buy, rather than trying to force them to buy. The first comes courtesy of Surinder, who points us to a story about Monocle magazine, who has focused on a strategy of giving readers a real reason to buy:
There are, on this type of thinking, two kinds of reader: fans and the indifferent. Monocle’s strategy is to find fans and then, boy, make money out of them. So, if you missed an issue, back issues cost double – because in the end it is only completists, eyeing an irritating lacuna on the bathroom shelf, who will want to buy. And they might as well pay up.
There are Monocle accessories – bags, pens and Lord knows what else – to buy and of course it is the fans that do, as they rather like being some sort of trans-national club, who fancy flying for a holiday in Costa Rica/Brunei/South Africa. And if you missed them in the magazine, you can head down to a Monocle shop. There is one off Marylebone High Street in London, with others in Los Angeles, or in Mallorca this summer, on the off chance that you happen to be in those locations at the crucial time.
Now, some readers may snort with derision at this point. After all, it would not be hard for more demotic types to describe Monocle as pretentious, although this is in fact unfair. But it does not matter; if there are enough fans you can make good money from them, a strategy that never did Madonna much harm. The snorters – a majority for any publication if you think about it – are irrelevant.
Then, the Wall Street Journal covered five different magazines that are all coming up with creative ways to add value and give fans a reason to buy. Some of them are incredibly creative, often turning the “magazine” into a piece of artwork itself (i.e., something you want to posses and own, not something you read and toss out). For example, there’s T-Post — a magazine built into a t-shirt:
It’s the magazine you can wear.
Every six weeks, T-Post sends its 2,500 subscribers a new T-shirt: It has a true story printed on the inside, chosen to make readers think, while on the outside an artist interprets the story to create a stylishly unique piece of graphic clothing. The idea behind the magazine is that each design will provoke onlookers to comment — and give the owner of the T-shirt the opportunity to spread the story printed on the inside.
Other magazines include one where every issue is round and comes inside a designer frisbee, another where the magazine is made of unique and unusual materials (the latest one is “a book of black-and-white photographs that turn to color when exposed to the sun.” Then there are magazines that blur the lines between magazines and objects, such as La Mas Bella and La Lata, which comes in a can you have to pry open.
While a lot of these are (not surprisingly) art magazines, that doesn’t mean non-art magazines can’t take a lesson from this: provide something worth keeping that creates a real reason to buy.