On a recent Diane Rehm show on NPR, Diane and guests lamented the fact that hundreds of periodicals folded this year, bastion Newsweek was sold for one dollar in exchange for millions in debt.
If you haven’t heard the news, Newsweek’s owner, The Washington Post Company, agreed to sell the magazine to Sidney Harman, the billionaire founder of audio equipment maker Harman International Industries.
Diane’s guests, Cathie Black of Hearst and Justin Smith of Atlantic Media (together with Harman) all indicated that all the magazines that are remaining successful were adapting by changing to a hybrid of print and online content . They marry the credibility and cachet of a magazine “brand” with the immediacy and rich media of the Internet. And to many, that means a blog.
In the aviation industry, we’ve seen the best magazines in the business going this direction for quite some time. Benét Wilson of Aviation Week is well-known for her tweets and blog posts on Business Aviation News and Notes. and Brad McAllister of Airport Business is also an avid blogger and social media participant in the Airport Business Interactive Blogs. And of course, there’s Forbes Magazine’s Business Aviation Blog Wheels Up.
So what does this mean to an industry that has traditionally relied on printed publications for marketing?
- There are fewer magazines. Periodicals are fighting for fewer subscribers as many readers cut back, read the online version.
- Magazines are getting smaller and putting more content online. Advertising in the printed magazine costs the same or more than it always has, because some magazines are using the supply/demand rule to keep prices up, and keep their printing costs down.
- Many are “bundling” their printed advertising rates with an online rate. Many media kits and rate cards include quotes for one or the other or both.
So, what’s an aviation company to do?
There are still two very good reasons to advertise in publications.
First is associating your brand or product with the reputation of the magazine. The second is to reach their list.
- Test your results. If your advertisement is giving you good return on investment, by all means keep doing what works! As your business expands, consider investing in alternate media to find new customers for your product.
- If it’s not working, consider the reasons. Consider the quality of their content – is it still up to par? Do you still read, enjoy and respect the magazine? Is their list reaching the same number of subscribers or has readership fallen off? (You can determine this from the circulation department.) Also consider competition from other venues. If you’ve never had a competitive analysis done of the online media your competitors might be using, now’s a good time!
- Try something different. Based on what you found out in your research, divert some of the money your spending on marketing to another channel. If you’re trying an online campaign, such as a blog, give that at least three months to get fully up to speed. You may decide to run concurrently with your publication campaign and compare the two over the same amount of time. You may try dividing your marketing budget into several channels in a coordinated campaign, such as using a smaller printed ad and direct mail to get prospects to your website, where you have the opportunity to publish more information (plus photos, video, and other features) less expensively.
- Test your results. Again.
We love magazines. I enjoy the variety at airport newsstands, I love the experience of curling up on the couch with a magazine (I know they say you can curl up with a Kindle or an iPad but I’m just not there yet!) and of course, I love carrying printed magazines on airplanes. I hope they stay as vital as they’ve always been.
That said, when it comes to spending marketing money, we can’t afford emotional decisions!
Do you feel that magazines are evolving? Do you still advertise in them? Leave a comment and let us know!
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