AL BERRIOS & CO. EVENT
al berrios & co. Executive Panel Series featuring Mahesh Krishnamurti, Publisher Worth Magazine, CFO Worth Media and Jorge Cano-Moreno, Publisher/Founder, Urban Latino Media: "The Business of Magazine Publishing"
By Al Berrios
If you thought the business of magazine publishing was all about writing articles and taking some cool photos, think again. At our continuing and most successful Executive Panel Series yet, hosted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2003, we had Mahesh Krishnamurti, Publisher Worth Magazine, CFO Worth Media and Jorge Cano-Moreno, Publisher/Founder, Urban Latino Media tell us about the ups and downs of the business, their strategies for success, and their advice for entering the business.
First, pick a niche. Magazines have traditionally been leading indicators of consumer trends because they tend to write about specific lifestyles or points of view before any other media. No magazine today can write generally like Time does. And no magazine should attempt to duplicate another concept ("No Hip Hop magazines please!"). The niche addresses a need or market not served by the current standard, but also a need or market that's expected to grow.
Second, remember that in order to get consumers to pick up your magazine, you've got to "engage, entertain, and enlighten" according to Mr. Krishnamurti. And in order to do this, it is important to open your publication with entertainment content, have some substance in the middle, and close with entertainment. If you don't entertain, readers won't become engaged. And if no one's interested in your publication, neither will advertisers, a substantial source of revenue for your publication (if you didn't already know.) This also points out a crucial point about any media, and that's that your readers are actually the ones who determine the value of your publication, not you. If your readers are thoroughly engaged in your content, that increases the value of their relationship with your brand (and hopefully, that of your advertiser, by virtue of association.)
And third, remember, it's not necessarily about the magazine itself, but the brand. Your readers have a relationship with your brand and the promise of the content, whether on paper, television, radio, or internet. Although your core audience may have an affinity for print or rarely uses the internet, putting your brand on an event or through some other channel will still attract the same core audience. Thus said, in today's ultra-fragmented consumer marketplace it is strongly recommended that you tell your brand's "story" across a variety of different media. Cross media is important not because consumers are fragmented, but because brands have value that can be unlocked throughout different media.
6 key things to remember about the business:
1) printing and manufacturing are important areas of profitability;
2) editorial rules, so make sure your editors and writers "get it";
3) marketing is important because you live and die by your circulation;
4) subscription is a undervalued source of revenue, so don't undermine it by giving everything away. It's always tricky balancing free content (particularly online) vs. paid content, but getting it right will make or break your publication. After all, it's your consumers that determine the value of publication and if they're not willing to pay for it, then how is it a real business;
5) when selling to advertisers, make sure you and your sales force understand separations (maintaining the value of your client's page by not placing competing ads or tear-away pages next to their ad), make goods (what they'll ask for if you don't separate, a free-be), and other important client management lingo;
6) accounting and overhead, so you make sure everyone gets paid and you can still make a profit.
I actually survey every audience for these panels and for the first time since we've started organizing these, this panel achieved an unprecedented 100% in the total number of attendees who learned something totally new. The speakers worked so well together (a truly amazing contrast between Mr. Krishnamurti, who was calm and reserved and Mr. Cano-Moreno, who was energetic, with hands flying wildly between sentences), that the sentiment was that they could very well have their own program, a la Kudlow and Cramer. Both speakers ranked in the top five compared to all the speakers we've had at our panels.
AL BERRIOS & CO. ARTICLES
> "ANA Print Advertising Forum 2003"
> "The Optimal Structure For Corporate Marketing Departments"
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