Mr. Magazine Says Think “Audience First” This Year

[responsive]samirbook[/responsive]“If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me.”

This quote from William Shakespeare is a fitting beginning to this piece from Samir Husni, aka Mr. Magazine. It’s aptness over the past few years – as publishers and marketers look frantically for some insights into what’s next, what’s hot, what’s dead – reminds us that change is a constant.

Husni also reminds us that, while dealing with the uncertainty of change, publishers must continue to think “audience first,” a fact that seems to be easily overlooked in the rush to embrace what’s new.

So while we scurry to evolve our multi-channel publishing platforms, we have to remember that our audience is made up of people, with preferences.

“Although publishers should be platform agnostic, your audience is not,” Husni cautions. “Readers have their preferred platforms and they are attached to them. So don’t fall in love with the platforms; rather, fall in love with the audience. Make each and every platform content complete.”

We love that line about falling in love with your audience. It’s that type of passion that makes for good business, whether you publish a magazine or sell potted begonias. Be in love with the people who consume what you offer.

Husni also reminds us that print’s survival depends not on what technology does, but rather on what print publishers do.

“It’s neither technology nor its digital components that threatens the survival of printed magazines. The perpetrators are the people behind print, its content and the investment or lack thereof. Remember the old adage, ‘Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,’” Husni asserts.

He’s right. Advertisers still flock to print, as we saw last year with some magazines boasting their largest issues ever. New printed magazines are thriving, as Husni notes.

“Any industry that fails to introduce new products is a dying industry. We should pay more attention to the business of new print launches and cherish and celebrate their arrivals. The industry must also focus on the fact that these infants always give us hope and a reason to believe in the future,” Husni declares, and we second.

Finally, he urges us to remember that hysteria must never replace fact.

“When you hear the statistics and percentages of increases or decreases in a particular publishing area, please do me a favor,” Husni urges. “Ask for numbers, real numbers. One percent of a billion-dollar industry is larger than fifty percent of a thousand-dollar industry.”

Husni nails it with this piece, and if publishers do nothing else this year they must get back to the basics of understanding their audience and falling love with them all over again.  Court them, woo them, make yourself irresistible in their eyes. That, above all else, is where the energy must focus.