custom magazines

The Enduring Impact of Custom Publishing

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.

Magazines Make the Most of Your Messaging

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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.

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Customize Your Magazine with Variable Data

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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!

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Extend Your Reach—and the Life of Your Content—with Custom Magazines: Part 2

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Last week’s post discussed some of the challenges in winning attention in today’s crowded messaging marketplace. Increasingly, many organizations that achieve their marketing goals do so through the use of custom magazines. Now let’s take a closer look at the details of this format and its advantages over other media.

You may be wondering what’s so special about print magazines as a communications vehicle. Isn’t print a dinosaur in today’s high-tech, high-speed marketing environment? True, print has been around for a long time—but anyone who writes it off as passé is missing a golden opportunity. People are familiar with print magazines, both as a physical medium and as a content category, and numerous studies indicate that not only have print magazines experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, but that upward trend will continue as the digital market becomes saturated and its content increasingly easy to overlook or ignore altogether.

Magazines, however, continue to engage their audiences. Look at these results from usability studies about print magazines:

  • The average magazine reader spends 41 minutes reading an issue

  • 1 in 4 people pick up a magazine 3 or more times before they finish it

  • 62% of magazine readers keep an issue around for a week or longer

  • 48% of adults trust magazines (whereas only 40% of adults trust the Internet)

And most significantly, 91% of magazine readers take action. A recent survey of behavior among readers who finished a magazine revealed that:

  • 82% told someone else about content they read

  • 56% visited a website mentioned in an article

  • 58% visited an advertiser’s website or store

  • 26% purchased something described or advertised in the magazine

  • 48% followed a tip or advice they read

We’re not talking about just clients and potential customers here: decision makers value magazines, too. Business leaders prize them as B2B communication vehicles essential to their jobs, and rely on them for information to shape and validate their firms’ business purchase decisions

Have I piqued your interest? Are you now thinking to yourself, “Okay, I can see some of the potential benefits to using custom magazines for my messaging, but I need to know more about how that message is delivered”? As you might guess from their name, custom magazines are tailored for each client. Usually drawing from the following categories, we work with each organization to determine which content best suits its needs:

  • Thought leadership articles

  • Vertical-focused articles

  • Q&As with industry leaders

  • Trade show information

  • Articles based on blog posts (from either individual or corporate blogs)

  • Content from partner organizations

  • Book excerpts

  • Case studies

Mamu Media also works with clients to determine the optimal production schedule and distribution details for your organization. You might decide to publish quarterly, bimonthly, or at other intervals. In addition to printed copies of your custom magazine, you’ll also receive an electronic “flipbook” version of each issue, as well as an HTML newsletter version. You provide the content, and we handle the design, printing, and mailing.

Don’t underestimate the value of a custom magazine. Sure, you can send it to the current clients on your mailing list—and to prospects, too. But thinking outside the box reveals even more distribution possibilities. For example, you can also use a custom magazine as a leave-behind for office visits, a supplement to presentations, a companion to a book (or other publication or product you distribute), or as trade-show literature. A custom magazine can also augment other efforts to connect with target and strategic accounts, develop your partner marketing, and enhance your vertical initiatives.

This multifaceted messaging tool offers numerous benefits. It can help you develop your existing business as well as grow it in new directions. In addition to letting you conduct target and field marketing, a custom magazine also functions as a vehicle for broadcasting sales touch points and building your brand awareness. By publishing your own content, you not only shape how issues are framed, but also establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.

Find out how you can reap the benefits of this powerful messaging medium! Contact Mamu Media today, and let’s talk about how adding this marketing tool to your repertoire can move your organization in new directions.

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Branded Magazines versus Custom Magazines

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Inlast week’s post I predicted the resurgence of print in 2013—specifically in the form of both branded magazines and custom magazines. Today I’ll present a brief overview of the characteristics and value of each of those publications.

First off, let’s talk about what they have in common.

  • Both branded magazines and custom magazines function as marketing tools to help the sponsoring company connect with its audience.

  • Typically, neither publication contains third-party advertisements (because the entire magazine is a marketing piece for the sponsoring company).

  • And—of course—both are offered in hard-copy form.

In spite of their similarities, however, these publications are not identical. Their primary differences lie in their covers and their content.

Several sponsoring companies can use the same interior content for a branded magazine. Only one company’s name, logo, and marketing message appear on the cover, however: each company’s version of the magazine is branded with that particular company’s information.

Multiple companies in the same field can use this type of publication as long as each company distributes only to its defined geographic area (and modifies the cover to carry its own information). Thus the same magazine—with a different branded cover for each sponsoring company—can be distributed simultaneously by, say, staffing agencies in Hartford, Hoboken, Houston, and Honolulu. Although they provide similar services, those businesses are geographically noncompetitive, so there is no conflict of interest.

A custom magazine, on the other hand, is unique to each sponsoring company. Original content produced by that company typically forms the core of each issue; an issue may also include content created by the company’s business associates and other related, relevant, and non-competitive companies. For companies that already have a mature content marketing strategy (in white papers, newsletters, or blog posts, as examples of a few forms), custom magazines offer opportunities to extend the shelf life of that content and connect it with a broader audience.

To paraphrase the Bard: “Branded magazines, or custom magazines: that is the question.” Sales and distribution numbers indicate that both types of publications are on the upswing, as more and more businesses realize the value of using customized print media to target current and prospective clients. Whether Mamu Media helps you create a branded magazine or a custom magazine, you’ll get:

  • knowledgeable staff dedicated to crafting a product that meets your business goals

  • top-notch graphic design and editing to make your ideas come across clearly

  • careful attention to all details

  • high-quality printing on substantial paper stock

  • assistance with distribution to your targets

  • a professional publication that yields results

We at Mamu Media can work with you to determine which option best suits your marketing needs. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you!

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