Custom Magazines

The Enduring Impact of Custom Publishing

At Mamu Media we focus on helping our clients use custom publishing to distinguish themselves from their competition and to communicate their messages more effectively. Through custom publishing, companies can create and distribute content that targets customers and prospective customers. Because most marketing today takes places in certain established, mainstream channels, we often posit custom publishing as something “new” and “innovative.”

Custom publishing certainly is both of those things when examined in the context of other marketing efforts. But it’s time for us to face the facts and admit that in the big picture, custom publishing isn’t really very “new” and “innovative” at all. The truth is that although many people consider custom publishing to be the new kid on the block in the marketing world, it’s actually been around for a while and has a long and distinguished history!

Custom publishing got its start in 1895, when an agricultural equipment company produced the first issue of a magazine marketed toward a specific consumer group. In The Furrow, John Deere sought to provide education to help its customers become better farmers—and better business owners, too.

Even if you’re not a farmer, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of The Furrow, which is still in print and now reaches nearly 3 million subscribers in 12 languages and over 40 countries. (And even if you haven’t heard of The Furrow, you’re surely familiar with the John Deere logo and the company’s products.) With such reach and longevity, it’s clear that custom publishing has been a smashing success for this company!

Although The Furrow is the earliest known example of custom publishing, a few others also make their mark long before the current boom in this marketing technique. For example, in 1916 Harley-Davidson launched The Enthusiast, a magazine for fans of the company’s motorcycles. (It remained in print until 2009, when it was combined with another publication and renamed HOG Magazine.) And although General Motors’ GM Folks (published from 1938 to 1956) was distributed primarily to GM employees, because its purpose was to strengthen brand loyalty and broaden the GM customer base, it does qualify as an example of custom publishing.

In an earlier post I described print custom magazines as “An Old Friend in a New Marketplace.” A few years later, that still holds true: this “old school” form of communication continues to broaden its appeal among marketers seeking to make new inroads among their customers—and among customers who have become numb to the cacophony of tweets, e-mails, and status updates they encounter each day.

Custom publishing has proven its effectiveness over the past century or so. It was pushed into a corner and neglected for a good chunk of the past couple of decades, as the shininess of new media (particularly digital media) grabbed everyone’s attention. But even though digital media remain effective in some ways, their initial luster has faded a bit, and companies are now looking around for something new to try. If your organization is one of those that’s looking for “the next best thing” in marketing communication, consider exploring what an old veteran—custom publishing—can do for you.

“Pickls” and Post-its: The Staying Power of Print

When I walked into the office today, my gaze landed on a yellow Post-it note that’s been stuck on the wall next to my desk for well over a year:

i Love my Dad more then Pickls

My daughter, who is a huge fan of pickles, wrote that two years ago, and I still smile every time I see it.

She now knows how to spell pickles correctly. She still writes me cute notes every once in a while, but now she sends them as texts via an app on her Kindle. Seeing that Post-it this morning make me realize that I haven’t printed or saved any of them—not even the ones loaded with emoticons. What does this say about the relative value of analogue connections?

Even though the Internet and digital media enable us to connect more easily with friends, family, and customers anywhere in the world, those connections have a different “feel” than those with a physical component, such as face-to-face meetings, handwritten letters, and high-quality printed marketing pieces that arrive via snail mail.

The theory of haptics goes a long way toward explaining why we interact with print differently from how we interact with digital media. We pay attention to and engage with print more than we do with digital, too. And when compared with digital media, physical items have unrivaled staying power in our lives. We cherish the Post-its and birthday cards but often delete texts without a second thought.

That’s why, two years after my daughter wrote it, I still have the little square of yellow paper with her handwritten comparison of me and “Pickls” on it. That’s why people have shoeboxes full of old love letters. That’s why, even in this age of quick and easy photo sharing through Instagram and Facebook, people still love to send—and receive—printed vacation postcards.

And that’s why well-designed, high-quality print media such as branded magazines can have a huge positive impact on your communication efforts. People connect with print. And as I’ve pointed out before, “Magazines have staying power—both on people’s minds and on their desks.”

True, branded magazines rarely include heartfelt sentiments about parents and preserved vegetables. But they do contain information that’s of value to your customers and prospects—and it’s delivered in a format that’s appealing, engaging, and memorable. If you give branded magazines a try, you may find that you like them just as much as (or even more than) you like “Pickls”!




Magazines Make the Most of Your Messaging


Imagine this scenario: ahead of a highly anticipated release, a movie studio prepares a huge publicity campaign. Press releases, social media blitzes, magazine interviews, talk-show chats—you name it, it’s lined up and ready to go. Opening day arrives, and the movie makes the headlines. And the next day, the studio shelves all of the PR for this movie. It just stops talking about it—completely.

Of course, this would never happen. Why not? Because after a studio drops a ton of money and effort on conveying certain messages (such as “Go see this movie!”—as well as the movie itself), it’s not going to fall silent just because opening day has passed. The messages are still relevant. The studio still wants people to see the movie.

The same goes for your own messaging campaigns. Why let your message fall silent just because a particular deadline—say, the date you send out your marketing materials—has passed? You’ve invested time and money into your communications. Naturally, you should want to get the biggest return possible for that investment.

Unfortunately, too many companies fail to maximize the long-term potential of their messaging. Well-designed postcards, e-newsletters, social media campaigns, and other widely used outreach efforts can be effective in some ways. But what staying power do they have? Most of the time, not much.

Think about how many postcards land in your mailbox and go straight into the recycling bin after the briefest of glances. Think about how often you skim through your inbox with your finger poised to click on the “delete” button, trashing e-mail based solely on subject lines—those messages don’t even get read! Think about how many dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of tweets, likes, and status updates you scroll through each day and don’t remember at all. A message in one of these formats often fails to register with audiences because it gets lost among similar items.

When you have something significant to say and want people to see—and remember—your message, you need a medium that makes a big impression. With a format that stands out in a crowded field of traditional hard-copy and digital media, custom magazines get your targets’ attention. Print is an extremely effective communication tool, and audiences engage with magazines particularly well.

Don’t let your own blockbuster fall off your audience’s radar! After you create your message, use custom magazines to expand both its reach and its duration. Print is a marketing force to be reckoned with, so seize the opportunity to engage your clients, grow your business, and leave your competition behind.


Customize Your Magazine with Variable Data

At Mamu Media we have long sung the praises of custom and branded print magazines. More than any other medium, they allow you to strengthen connections with your current customer base as well as foster new relationships with the prospects you’re courting.

Variable data takes this connection building to another level by enabling you to fine-tune the customization of your publications according to your target audience. Because Mamu Media uses a digital printing process, we have the ability to dynamically swap out pages based on any number of criteria using a unique identifier in your distribution list. For example, we can adjust your content to better target a particular client, prospect, or geographic region.

Here are just a few of the ways in which we can help you customize your publication:

  • Inside front cover: The inside front cover of the magazine is a great place for messaging that speaks directly to your target. Most of our clients use this space for a letter from the organization’s president, but any content that suits your needs could go there. If you’ve just hired a new sales rep, for example, you could use this space to present him or her to your audience. Or you could use this space to introduce your company to the reader—and adjust the message for each group (e.g., new clients, prospects, long-term customers) you want to reach.

  • Promotional ads: Any good marketer knows to approach current clients and prospects differently. Each group has its own needs and interests—and custom publishings lets you tailor your ads for each target audience.

  • Region-specific content: Does your company operate in multiple locations? We can switch out articles based on their geographic relevance. That way your customers in New York aren’t reading about employment law updates in California.

  • Tracking: Web and e-mail campaigns are renowned for their trackability. When our prospects express concern that print campaigns lack this feature, we reassure them that trackability does work for print, thanks to some simple solutions. The same variable data rules apply both to electronic media and to print: all you need is a unique identifier. It could be a URL, a QR code, or a designated extension on your phone system, for example.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg—there are many more ways to tailor your messaging in custom magazines. If you’re interested in learning how to use variable data to reach your audience more effectively, contact Mamu Media today!




No Magic Here–A Matter of Supply and Demand of Your Prospects’ Attention

In previous posts, I’ve defined branded publishing and discussed how this medium lets you extend the reach and longevity of your content. I think I’ve made a pretty good case for why branded publishing delivers more positive results (and is therefore more cost effective) than any other marketing medium out there.

But if you’re still on the fence about whether to pursue branded publishing as a marketing strategy for your own business, one number might sway your decision and persuade you to hop off the fence and give it a try: 20%. In short, adding branded magazines to your stable of marketing options may enable you to close as many as 20% of your prospects.

How did I come up with 20%? I didn’t pull that number out of thin air—it’s actually rooted in reality. As part of our own marketing process, we at Mamu Media practice what we preach: just as our clients use customized magazines to target their prospects, we use customized magazines to target ours. It’s an effective strategy for our business on two fronts: it not only gives us a vehicle for contacting potential clients but its content also demonstrates our service.

Since we adopted this approach, we’ve been closing one out of every five prospects we call on. That’s a 20% success rate! Imagine what closing 20% of your prospects would do to your revenue stream.

How can branded publishing help you reach that goal? You don’t need to use any magic tricks here, just some good business sense. Our service leverages supply and demand as it relates to your prospects’ attention. In other words, branded magazines succeed in attracting and keeping attention better than any other marketing medium.

Remember, you and your competitors are all using the same traditional and online marketing methods. To stand out, you need to do something else. Don’t get me wrong—you do need to continue cold calling, sponsoring events, building your Twitter following, connecting with fans on Facebook, and the like.

But if you want to stay top of mind—and potentially open 20% of the doors you encounter—give branded publishing a try. You’ll soon see the results!