Magazine article Marketing

The Market Widens for Customer Titles

Magazine article Marketing

The Market Widens for Customer Titles

Article excerpt

Publishing firms are reaping the rewards as new sectors realise the benefits of customer mags

As the UK's customer magazine business has grown, so has the range of industries it serves. Alongside mainstays such as airlines, automotive and retail, publishing agencies are now producing numerous business-to-business and business-to-consumer titles for clients in finance, retail, telecoms and public sectors.

This process of diversification is arguably the best evidence that clients are now convinced of the sector's ability to perform a wide variety of marketing tasks in a cost-effective way. For publishing agencies within the sector, it also suggests that the growth potential for customer magazines is still significant.

One trend is the increase of magazines backing TV and online brands. Aside from Sky Customer Magazine, a pioneer in this field, Disney, Fox Kids, ITV Digital (formerly ONdigital) and Flextech Television have pursued this route. Among online services, Egg and Thus-Demon have also used a customer title to communicate.

Granada Sky Broadcasting's (GSB) Men & Motors, produced by Citrus Publishing, was primarily designed to drive TV viewing to the GSB PayTV channel of the same name. Along the way, however, it was used to build the brand, drive web traffic and generate a database of new and existing viewers that could be used to assess viewing preferences. It did its job so well that it won the Integrated Marketing Solution of the Year category at the 2000 APA Effectiveness Awards.

Part of a strategy

According to Citrus Publishing's strategic planning director, Julian Downing, the title was made the centrepiece of a coherent communications strategy. It was distributed free with 700,000 copies of FHM and Citrus launched a PR campaign using national press and radio. As it needed synergy with the web site; they were given the same creative treatment.

Specialist Publications managing director Jim Addison says customer magazines can play a key role for clients in niche markets too. He cites examples such as Dialog, a magazine for information providers in 130 countries, and catering supplier Woodward Food Services, which has converted its catalogue into a customer magazine. Then there is Jackpot - a title for Camelot that keeps 40,000 retailers up-to-speed on point-of-sale lottery marketing.

"There is no point pitching a magazine to a company that has no need of one," says Addison, "but there is plenty of room for growth."

Addison believes companies in established sectors such as retail can make use of magazines." We have produced a 48-page magazine for Specsavers with fashion, competitions, interviews and eyecare information."

AMD BrassTacks managing director Kim Conchie identifies the property market as another area where customer magazines are useful. "We've just produced an upmarket, glossy lifestyle magazine for Lane Fox estate agents, which will be doordropped to 15,000 homes around Kensington, Chelsea and Belgravia, and distributed to 10,000 more people on the company database."

The aim, says Conchie, is to sell properties valued at [pound]1.5m and above. This sector has also attracted interest from Redwood, which produces a magazine called Fabric for a group of estate agents in Central and North London.

Dennis & Beyond is producing titles that target small businesses. According to managing director Duncan Grant, this is a complex market that has not proved very receptive to direct marketing. As such, it is a key growth opportunity for customer magazines. …

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