Kai Brach clearly thinks way outside the box. Not only did the former web designer launch a new print title focusing on web design, he is creating his own rules for how to interact with his readers.
Last week Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni shared his interview with Brach, in which the fledgling publisher called his new work to produce something lasting “really quite selfish” by documenting the fleeting nature of the web design world and the people who work in it.
As Brach notes on the magazine’s website, “Offscreen is a high-quality print periodical with an in-depth look at the life and work of people that use the internet to be creative and build successful businesses.”
And he’s clearly a veteran of that creative Internet, using it to engage new readers and get immediate feedback on how they like the magazine. He recently blogged about the reader survey he conducted and what he learned, demonstrating a remarkable ability to not only seek information but use it to immediately influence his business.
“First off all, I learned that including just a few open-ended questions and giving people a chance to write some original answers makes the survey a lot more interesting. It also means that analysing the results is a million times more work (as you will see below). It took me a full day to go through all the answers and compile a meaningful analysis,” Brach writes in his blog post.
While the results are really interesting (89% of respondents were men, and close to half of them discovered Offscreen via social media), even more telling is how he is using the results to inform immediate changes in his business.
“Social media (with Twitter being the clear winner) seems to be one of my most efficient marketing tools, followed by links/mentions elsewhere on the web,” Brach notes. “The way Facebook algorithms currently work, I wouldn’t be surprised if deleting the Offscreen Facebook page with its 9000 Likes would not make the slightest dent in my visitor/sales numbers.”
Brach wisely offered respondents open-ended questions on how readers would describe the magazine. It was gratifying to see many people respond about Offscreen being “a magazine that slows the fast digital world down,” something that Brach himself enjoys about print magazines in general.
Brach and Offscreen are leveraging technology to create a direct and immediate relationship with its readers in a way that large mass markets simply can’t manage. It makes perfect sense that the majority of his readers purchase via the Web — although 4% do buy through their local stockist.
“This is a great reminder of Offscreen’s fairly unique position as an indie magazine. The obvious benefit of selling my magazine mostly through my own website is that I don’t have other parties taking their cut out of the cover price (distributors and stockists). But long-term, I think the biggest benefit and value of focusing on online sales is that I can directly connect with my readers via email, Twitter, etc. That’s how community building becomes possible. Sadly, many other publications that focus mainly on the brick and mortar retail channel to get their magazines into readers’ hands are still missing out on this opportunity.”