If setting your brand apart from the myriad of other magazines in your niche is a concern, you may want to consider going back in time to the days of the print magazine edition experience. There are some definite advantages that come with the print edition. It’s traditional, it’s prestigious, and it’s still as rare as ever to appear in print…even more so, actually.
You don’t need to be Nielsen to know that print ads sell more reliably than digital. Even as early as 2013, the advertising industry had taken notice of this seeming contradiction in the digital age of advertising. And as recently as 2016 print experts (printmag.com) have echoed that estimation, saying that print is king among media, pound for pound.
Direct Mail advertising publishers have known for a long time that print delivers on ROI. While industry estimates hover around 1000-1400% returns for the average print direct mailer, it’s a no-brainer for the average pizza place to know you go to the local college campus, rent out your ideal space just off campus, and start pasting flyers door-to-door on the campus dorm doors, paying your helpers in free pizza if possible.
Steve Forbes has noted the lasting brand appeal of print editions. When it comes to fashion magazines or automotive magazines, one can imagine an issue spread out in the dressing closet or the garage, but the digital edition may not provide the same level of DIY inspiration. Did vinyl go away after the CD? Or the MP3? No, it became a prestige item for music niche aficionados. Likewise, having a print edition lends credibility to a well-done magazine with authentic, top-quality content.
So here are 5 ways that having a print edition may be the best thing that ever happened to your magazine:
1. Print editions lend credibility to the magazine
Expensive color glossy print lends a sense of awe to your brand. The old standby magazine giants built their brands on this principle, with artsy, daring covers and bold writers taking a chance to make an impact. Today, no one doubts the presence of the names of these magazines – The Atlantic, Time, Newsweek, Life.
From music to martial arts, there is a top branded magazine that simply started sooner, and started in print. There’s just something about holding, feeling, seeing, hearing the pages turn in your hands that makes the mind believe.
2. Print editions are free advertising
Print publications endure. They sit in dentist, hotel, and office lobbies for years, are collected, and even resold when the quality is there. The sight of an interesting magazine in front of you while waiting to see the doctor is the ultimate god-send.
And each time you return to that same office lobby, there it sits, and you read it again, see the same ads with the same thankful glow of relief to have something to do, connect with the same relevant article and images, capture a sense of nostalgia. Print editions are the time loop of advertising with the maximum Pavlovian conditioning response.
3. Print is a stronger branding experience
Branding experiences are more involving in print. Out of all those eyeballs, how many are likely prospective customers for your magazine after growing to love a single issue? Probably more than a few. Possibly a lot. Perhaps some converted on your magazine from pure repeat exposure to the nuances of your writers, photographers, and artists.
With print, you get a free hand-held public billboard with multiple pages for every copy you send gratis to a busy dentist’s office or law office. Hmm…Maybe you should start sending out freebies? This writer confesses that a single issue of a single niche magazine print issue spawned an entire series of other fandom obsessions and product purchases my adult self still refuses to write off.
Print is a fuller magazine experience many still actively prefer. Online magazines suffer from attention deficit disorders of the digital age. In an age when 20 seconds on a website is considered “mild engagement”, format limitations become advantages, Print magazine editions, on the other hand, As one study found, the average UK print magazine reader spends approximately 20 minutes reading print media per day. Newspaper reading is still popular with many older people already branded on reading from youth. This number may be even higher in many Asian countries like Japan, where the experience of leisurely reading is still treasured as a relaxing way to spend downtime – for both older people and younger people.
4. Less growth in print medium = less competition
Fewer print editions means less competition within your niche at the magazine rack. If you’ve ever been to a SportClips in the US as a man, or to the doctor’s office for that matter, you know the value of a print magazine. And as online marketing becomes a self-sustaining momentum of low start-up capital and high potential yields, print can be seen by many as the diamond shining in a digital wasteland. Unlike former print days, however, contemporary marketers have better data intelligence on who to target with print, and why. Junk mail has been largely replaced with junk email. Junk mail is now something more likely to gain notice than ever.
In fact, recent data is explicit. Print materials like direct mail (and especially sample magazine issues), can receive much more attention than anything in your inbox according to authorities like SocialMediaWeek. SMW also notes that the introduction of QR codes have effectively squashed the distance between the two mediums, allowing print to enjoy privilege over online media from sheer physicality which cannot be effaced with the push of a button on a smartphone. For magazines, a QR can link your physical experience to the digital clouds, enhancing a more multimedia kind of experience of the content, writer, and magazine. Likewise, advertising dollars can be spent on better-converting leads, measurable by real-world analytics.
5. Many niche markets naturally gravitate to print
Print can reach hidden niche consumers who avoid online media. The pure scale and design freedom in a print ad create an entirely different experience. Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to abandon digital. But print’s role in advertising and branding hasn’t gone away, nonetheless.
A great many older consumers still gravitate to a print magazine rather than play on their phones in public places. And many younger fans of print became fans because of the scarcity of print materials, because of a low-fi aesthetic, and other niche affiliations and leanings. Music heads love print editions that cover their genre because these become conversation pieces with like-minded music fans. The same applies to martial arts, hot rods, and fashion magazines – all content around a physical experience.
> For more insights into the ways that having a print edition can benefit your magazine, reach out to Flip180 Media, or ask to connect with me personally. I’m not going to like. I love talking to magazine heads about their projects and marketing!