One of South Africa’s most influential and trustworthy news and opinion online portals, the Daily Maverick, has seemingly done an about-face by producing a print edition. Is this rank stupidity or diabolically clever?
When I first heard about it I had to shake my head in disbelief because I remembered a few decades ago having lunch with the man behind Maverick, Branko Brkic, who was bemoaning the fact that his Maverick print magazine was becoming very expensive to produce and the cover price was beginning to cause reader-shedding.
At the time I was involved with Alec Hogg’s Moneyweb, producing Marketingweb. I suggested to Branko that he start seriously looking at taking Maverick online. He did and the rest is history.
So, why step back into the outrageously expensive maelstrom of print media?
Well, I think it was a brilliant step. And the first bit of brilliance was balancing the R20 cover price with an offer of free copies of Maverick 168 to all Pick n Pay SmartShopper cardholders. That’s where I got my copy of the first edition.
Secondly, contrary to the concept of using online to promote print, a strategy which newspapers still use, Daily Maverick is using print to promote its online offering.
Clearly, it seems, part of their print strategy is based on the fact that the only newspapers in South Africa that are profitable are those community newspapers that are given away free.
The only difference is that all those newspapers are geographically community-based.
Content is typically Daily Maverick. It’s great journalism – something as rare as hens’ teeth in South Africa today. The first issue was 33 Berliner pages with a well put together slightly smaller than tabloid, lifestyle insert.
My nearest Pick n Pay branch ran out of copies quite quickly and my guess is that perhaps they underestimated the initial take-off. Which can create a headache because running out of newspapers irritates consumers no end yet just simply upping the print run is cripplingly expensive .
The paper is jam-packed with QR codes to allow readers to access video material and it could well in future prove to be an attractive print/online package for advertisers.
But, most importantly, the content is good quality. And that’s the kicker. You can actually see all those newspapers that cut staff in an effort to keep their heads above water, losing huge numbers of readers through a combination of increasing cover pricing and absolutely crap content.
It is going to be fascinating to see how this new print product performs in the months and years ahead.
It’s a brave move.
Chris Moerdyk (@chrismoerdyk ) is a marketing analyst and advisor and owner of Moerdyk Marketing with many years of experience in marketing and the media as well as serving as non-executive director and chairman of companies.
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