It’s a steaming hot day and I am at work, a mountain of magazines threatening mutiny on my desk. They are promising to collapse upon me and the daunting task of reading and evaluating them for a client campaign lies ahead.
There is a sure-fire way to organise them: Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) certification gives us a certain level of certainty that the numbers promised in the proposal are audited and represent a true and accurate account of the circulation of the publication. And that would be good if our jobs ended at evaluating whether or not the publication has a certificate and is maintaining its share in the market.
As a strategic lead, I need to consider quite a bit more than the size of publication as a deciding factor on whether to include it on the schedule. In an age where marketing budgets are being squeezed tighter with each campaign, reaching as many people as possible with the biggest title is not the failsafe solution it once was. There is a new model of persuasion in play.
Magazines and newspapers are an intimately consumed medium, rather than a shared experience between the reader and their surrounds, like television and radio. As such, the editorial content, style, tone and distinguished readership of a title is fundamental to consider in terms of alignment to brand and strategic imperatives within a campaign. The average strategist and planner definitely does not have the time to wade through masses of magazines and newspapers, hoping to pick out the nuances of the title through the turn of a few pages. Thus the assistance of the publication and its marketing team is of paramount importance in bringing the true potential of a title to the fore.
I regard a publication as the gatekeeper between a desired audience for a brand and the brand itself. As strategic advisors to clients, we are required to understand the motivation of an audience, their triggers, passion points and barriers in order to ensure maximum return on our investment. Campaigns are, against popular belief, not always about generating awareness, and this is where print can play a fundamental role in bridging the gap between generating interest and activating desire within an audience.
The editorial team’s wealth of insight, when shared with a strategist or planner, makes a massive difference to the outcome of a campaign. It creates the difference between a standard campaign focus on upfront right-hand page discounted placement and a campaign that drives true ignition of interest in the brand on offer through integration into the publication. While it’s impossible to imagine that we (media owners, editorial teams and strategists) have the time for any more meetings and presentations, there are other ways to glean the insights held by the team closest to the success of a magazine. Getting them, however, will in turn lead to the generation of a completely integrated channel solution for a title that extends beyond two-dimensional print placement.
It is imperative that we understand what makes up the target audience of a magazine or newspaper. Far beyond their demographics, we need to discern the psychographic triggers of the title. Involvement of strategists in readers’ workshops, focus groups, sharing the results of online polls and key themes of readers’ letters can go a long way in developing the understanding of the nuances of a title. I am a huge fan of mood boards – visual representations of the audience that highlight the subtle differences that are just not available on paper.
The true magic in unpacking the possibilities of print in the success of a campaign lies in collaboration. We cannot be experts in everything – we rely on our media partners to provide us with honest, real-time insight into their audience. This will inevitably enhance what we do and bring the brand to life for the right group of consumers, resulting in a more accurate and measurable return on investment.
The print world has been in a state of flux, both locally and internationally. Every industry source cites the demise of the printed word and the rise of the tablet, online and mobile connected engagement model of print. This is true, to a certain degree, with the migration to digital accelerating significantly across all markets within South Africa.
However, there is still a significant market that is fundamentally consuming their print on paper and harnessing their brand advocacy through aligned and integrated brand experiences. This, through the extended offerings of the medium (digital, social and experiential), goes a long way to ensuring the long term and established relevance of a brand in their mind. n
Katherine Liese is head of strategy for Nota Bene.