Thinking about advertising in print media? Now may be the best time ever.
I have to be honest. I have been at odds for awhile with print publications, especially daily newspapers. Yes, it’s true, there was a love-hate relationship there based on decades of control (the newspaper’s) and decades of increased cost (my real estate company’s ). Same space as last year? That’s only a 12 percent increase this year, the rep would say. Oh, wow, thank you. How about if I cut my space in half? Well, we’ll double the cost and still add on the 12 percent. Sound good?
Bleh. That was the sorry state of affairs between newspaper classified ad reps and real estate company marketing folks until the Internet was born and got mass. Newspapers’ Sunday classified sections were “the place” we all believed that consumers would always look for new homes on the market. Heck, in 1997, my company made the “radical” move of cutting all institutional newspaper advertising and investing those dollars online. We were considered renegades or worse. Now, those same folks who called us crazy consider us visionary. And they’re all gleefully leaping from your daily hometown paper’s advertising pages as I type. And the newspapers are teetering on the edge of survival because real estate wasn’t the only industry treated like this. Consumers were, too.
But magazines? Say it ain’t so. Recent reports show an 11 percent plummet in magazine newsstand sales. Some magazines are barely afloat, while more are being closed each week. Shelter publications catering to freaked out homeowners have taken the biggest hits, as have automotive magazines. But even celebrity magazines are seeing sales tank. And that’s sad. There is something purely comforting – especially in a world gone mad – curling up with a new magazine. I love the smell, the color, the feel. It’s like a new book – only more immediately vivid, if less lingeringly so. When my People magazine arrives each Saturday, I’m ecstatic. And apparently others feel that way, too, as People’s sales were up three percent. People knows what I want as a consumer and delivers it each week.
So, what’s the struggling magazine industry to do? Change. And do so quickly. The newspapers didn’t get it for the most part, and they’re suffering. The real estate industry didn’t see it coming, and we’re suffering. Every industry has a different answer; a way to emerge from the tunnel of this economy to a bright future on the other side. Models must change. Entire industries will contract, and re-emerge.
There will be great magazines born and sustained, as long as the focus is clearly on the consumer just as there will be great real estate agents delivering amazing service to their target audiences. And yes, there will be great, content-driven newspapers where editorial staff is treasured over the ad sales folks. Where publishers will understand that written words are their greatest assets - that if you write it, and well, with insight and foresight, attract consumers with originality and differentiation, those advertisers, they will come. But it just doesn’t work the other way.
Pander to advertisers, and eventually, the advertisers will catch on. And the consumers will already be long gone. Those who survive this phase of right-sizing in print will be great partners for you and your business. Print is still a great medium for the right message – and now, when you sit down with your favorite ad rep, realize you are in the cat-bird seat.