Their brand name says it all. According to Bonnie Kintzer, president and CEO of Trusted Media Brands, success in today’s magazine industry boils down to having credibility with your audience.
“…we are a reliable source of information and inspiration. That credibility is really what drives the demand, both for content in print, digital and new products,” Kintzer said to Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni in a recent interview.
Her brand publishes a number of iconic, well-loved titles including Reader’s Digest, which she believes will be here “forever,” Taste of Home, and Family Handyman.
“When you look at the renewal rates, circulation and economics of Reader’s Digest, I never worry about Reader’s Digest,” she told Husni. “I read letters from our readers all the time and you can see that this is a brand that passes down generations in a single-family and it’s a really beautiful thing. We definitely treat each of our brands differently.”
When you have trust and credibility, it’s that much easier to adapt to a changing landscape and innovate new revenue models successfully.
“If you look at Taste of Home, we’ve launched a subscription box, because we felt that for people who love to cook and bake, they wanted more hands-on products, so we launched the cookware and the bakeware. That’s much more a focus for Taste of Home than our other brands,” she continued.
Credibility is not something you can claim; it’s earned, by engaging authentically and delivering consistently. Once earned, it’s the starting point for new products and services that people will pay for.
“Whether it’s our branded products like the cookware and bakeware, or it’s DIY University, or the growth of the Taste of Home subscription box, I think all of those things are so important,” Kintzer noted. “We’ve always been a consumer-driven company, as you know, and the idea that we can now go into all of these new product areas and get positive feedback, as in people are paying for it, is huge.”
Coming from this perspective, it’s no wonder that Kintzer has a positive view of the near future for her brand (she says she sees the cup as being “three-quarters full”), while remaining clear-eyed about the challenges.
“There’s just so much change all the time,” she noted. “And making sure that you’re staying on top of all of those changes and being very disciplined in what does and doesn’t matter in those changes, because you can read a lot of things and get swept up, but some stuff doesn’t really matter for my business.”
What does matter, indeed just about the only thing that really matters in the long run, is the relationship with the reader. Without that, nothing else really works.