Golfers, Boaters and Survivors – Print’s the Common Thread for Niche Media Brands

What makes a media brand launch an expensive print title when the barriers to entry for digital content are so minuscule? That question was top of mind when Greg Dool of Folio: spoke to three publishers bucking the online-only trend.

“A magazine seemed like the perfect format to introduce Pivot to the world and tell stories in a way that we knew would have a really cool style and aesthetic that was distinct from a lot of other golf media properties,” said Scott Gorly, director of marketing and communications for Callaway Golf. Their new publication, Pivot, was released early last month.

“We really wanted to make a connection with our audience,” Gorly continued. “We wanted it to be a fun experience to flip through. You’re spending time with something and really connecting with it on a different level than if it was coming up in a feed, which is more fleeting. We’re all in marketing here, we’re fans of the medium and we have a lot of love for it. We felt like there were some ways to use print as a brand and to tell stories that we didn’t really see out there.”

That audience connection is what drives print for many brands these days, not necessarily as a revenue source it and of itself, but as a vital part of the larger marketing strategy. What print brings is a voice of authority to its market, as Active Interest Media’s Daniel Harding notes.

Harding serves as editor-in-chief of two titles, Power & Motoryacht and the newer Outboard magazine, launched late last year to appeal to the growing interest in outboard boating.

“With all of these boat builders going to outboard power, we very quickly realized that we could fill a whole magazine with just these types of boats,” says Harding. “With our specialty being drilling down into these micro-niches, we just felt that we really had something here. We’ve just done two issues so far, but we’ve really seen an audience that’s been craving this kind of book.”

Niche audiences are becoming increasingly self-selective, interested in content that resonates specifically with their own lives, interests and challenges. In the case of Elephants and Tea, that audience is comprised of adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer, and their caregivers, as Dool explains.

“Inspired by the experience of his younger brother, a two-time cancer survivor, and born out of a recognition that there was no dedicated media brand specifically serving such an audience, the first issue of Elephants & Tea came out in March to an overwhelming response from the community, [publisher Nick] Giallourakis tells Folio;” Dool writes.

What makes this magazine tick is the specificity of the audience and their needs.

“This age range has their own specific issues that you don’t see in adult or childhood cancers,” Giallourakis told Dool.  “There’s nothing specifically for this group out there like this.”

It’s a refrain we see again and again from media brands; to build engagement and brand authority, look to print. It’s not the kind of old-school mass marketing magazine we might remember from years ago. It’s the new normal for magazines; tightly targeted, richly developed and embraced by an audience hungry for a magazine created “just for them.”

“I just feel that if we’re really going to be a media company for adolescent and young adult survivors, patients and caregivers, we need a print component,” Giallourakis said. “It really has validated what we have done, just in terms of authority and trust and to prove that we are for real. I think there’s something to be said for that. It helps separate us from the pack.”