Magazine publishers would do well to take a page out of Visa’s playbook, and “be everywhere your customers want you to be.” Staying true to your audience and their needs is the best way to build a solid model around your print magazine.
That’s the takeaway from Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni’s interview with two execs from Meredith Publishing on how their audience-centric approach is working in spades.
As Husni explains, Better Homes & Gardens has grown tremendously since its debut in 1922.
“And it’s continued to both maintain and flourish during the digital disruption and rapid technological changes that face the industry on almost a daily basis,” he notes. “Today, it reaches nearly 40 million readers on a monthly basis and still maintains its 7.6 million in guaranteed circulation that it has had for years.”
Some call that amazing, but for Stephen Orr (Editor-in-Chief) and Stephen Bohlinger (VP/Group Publisher), it is the result of staying true to your audience and giving them what they need, where they need it. And a lot of that need is, clearly, in print.
“We have our earnings call from Meredith coming up and one of the things that Steve Lacy, our chairman, always says to the board of directors and to our shareholders is that we’ve been putting 7.6 million copies of Better Homes and Gardens out today because there’s a need,” Bohlinger says. “Our consumers still want it. And what we have today is a contemporary breakout women’s lifestyle magazine, really.”
Orr notes that their readers expect an omnichannel experience, and that’s what the brand delivers.
“If they want to find a Butternut squash recipe, they Google it or search for it on bhg.com,” Orr explains. “If they want to see things in the print magazine, because many of them will say, even Millennials, that they like a paper product on certain points because it’s easier to show their husband or their partner an idea, rather than having to find it on their phone.
“They can just dog-ear the page and then discuss whatever it is with them. So, they’re very savvy about how they use every platform and we as a brand need to be wherever they want and need us to be,” Orr insists.
This omnichannel presence plays well for advertising partners too, as all the exposure continues to drive that 7.6 million in print circulation. It’s another great example of the “print proud, digital smart” mantra that’s driving current magazine publishing practices.
“Newsstand isn’t what it used to be, of course, but we still have this magazine going into the homes of consumers across the country and they’re waiting for it and spending time with it,” Bohlinger explains. “So, our advertisers know this and that’s why we had such a terrific last year because they want the ‘reach’ title.”
Of course, all the reach in the world means little if you aren’t delivering on your brand promise. And for BH&G, they are all about one thing:
“Trust, 100 percent. We’re trusted and they know us. We put our recipes through every kind of testing that you can do in our test kitchen in Des Moines. We’ve done all of the homework and we have the knowledge,” Orr insists.
Bohlinger chimes in that, especially in our current environment, trust is incredibly important.
“It’s at the top of the list,” Bohlinger insists.
When a publisher gets it this right – combining the audience-first approach with an unshakable grounding in trust – it’s a win for advertisers, a win for readers and a win for the publisher. Here’s to the next 100 years, BH&G.