Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Understanding Your Business with Bryan Welch

Yesterday, AMPA was pleased to present a seminar with longtime magazine professional Bryan Welch, publisher of leading titles such as Mother Earth News, Natural Home and the Utne Reader.

Bryan shared some amazing insights learned through his own publishing business, Ogden Publications. Here's a brief recap:

-First, it's important to know what the purpose of your communication is. The nature of your relationship with the audience will dictate what medium to use.
-It's time to redefine what the business of magazines is--he sees himself in the business of content generation and audience aggregation.
-Magazines are NOT automated content generators.
-What makes magazines unique is our ability to produce branded content; what characterizes brand is having a voice or a character that we attach to our content; we aim to deepen the relationship with our audience by asking them what is meaningful to them and applying that knowledge
-Audiences will respond to that voice if they have a common set of interests or affinities; this is how Ogden has developed a strong revenue source, through affinity marketing. That is, selling products tied to those specific interests. These products are largely content-based.
-The way to generate money is through the quality of the relationship with your audience.
-Ogden uses frequent surveying of its "Editorial Advisory Groups" to consciously engage its audience; they ask for opinions that are relevant. The survey results help the editors to not only effectively craft their product, but they also help their advertisers to more effectively sell to the audience. The surveys provide data about the audience's editorial preferences, but can also be used in the same way to aggregate marketing data
-the Internet allows for free testing of marketing techniques; MUCH cheaper than direct mail.
-Google Analytics are your bible! Read your Google analytics to find out about your online traffic; in particular, visits, unique visits, page views, time spent on site, pages per visit and bounce rate
-the more engaged people are by your content, the more likely they are to be customers
-SEO is important, but spending on content should be far greater
-use the free Google keyword tool to find the most popular way to say things for headlines, cover lines, sell lines etc.; this will help you draw more audience through your messaging
-you can also set up alerts for spikes/drops in traffic so that you can respond with either more content on a new hot topic or rework pages that aren't working
-the aggregation of audience data is invaluable not only for editorial purposes, but also for advertising; Welch sees an "advertising on demand" model evolving where advertisers can come to magazines for specific audience groups because we've done such a good job of finding out what our audience wants to buy so that we can send them ads that they WANT
-if magazine publishers do a good job of audience aggregation, advertisers will pay a premium to access that; the value is in the trust the magazine has with its audience and having that trust extend to an advertiser's product or service