6 Ways for Magazines to Build Their Future

StylistWe’ve written quite a bit lately about the new landscape of the publishing world, as brand marketers turn to journalism and magazines are being leveraged into successful multi-platform business models. While some magazines do continue to profit with the traditional newsstand sales and subscription models, others are finding more innovative ways to turn a profit.

Attendees at last month’s UK Professional Publishers Association annual conference were exposed to a huge range of current business models, as noted by Colin Morrison in Flashes & Flames.

“Time was when magazines shared a uniform model of printed products funded by readers and advertisers, and were published by specialist companies,” Morrison notes. “UK weeklies tended to depend for their profits mostly on copy sales and monthlies on advertising. But now the variations are almost endless. And the UK provides a picture of the possibilities, where a growing number of magazines are free and/or sponsored.”

He cited several examples of traditional success, including Vogue UK, which just had its most profitable year ever. He also outlined several companies that have turned to non-traditional revenue models based in print but deriving their revenue from non-print sources.

“The way in which the magazine medium is being used skilfully by companies with something to sell is highlighted by Time Out, the 37-year-old entertainment weekly which scrapped its cover price in 2013 and has just done the same with its New York edition, in order to promote e-commerce, primarily ticket sales,” Morrison continues.

What’s clear is that the world of publishing has changed—radically—and publishers must either engage in the new space or be part of the casualties of the times.

“Publishers are, to say the least, finding it difficult to come to terms with a business model damaged most not so much by the loss of readers as by defecting advertisers. They need to change their game in at least 6 fundamental ways,” Morrison stressed.

His article outlines those six ways, including: reinventing your brand; building new business model; choosing your champions; choosing your friends, enemies and frenemies carefully; forgetting the past; and getting versatile.

It’s a rather lengthy read, but well worth your time to understand the new realities of magazine-media and profit from them. Morrison summarizes it beautifully:

“Magazine-media’s future is all about using existing brands, content, skills and readership to create new businesses. We should never believe apocalyptic forecasts about whether print will survive or not. It will. Our examples of the changing face of the UK magazine market show that (with changes in strategy and business model) ‘new’ magazines can thrive – as, indeed, can some traditional ones. The challenge is to match markets with media channels in order to reinvent business models without being constrained by past products, profitability or ways of working.”