Storehouse or Portal? The Future of Magazines and Publishing

The root of the word magazine is based on the Arabic word “makhzan,” meaning “storehouse.”

As we enter 2013, a year that I foresee as a pivotal year for the transformation of magazines, I ask is a magazine a storehouse or it is much more? (What do you say? Let me know via thad.kubis@tifmc.org)

If a magazine is a storehouse then we are losing the scope of what a true magazine is. Yes, a magazine can store information, but most storehouses are dusty, dark and non-innovative locations, located on the outskirts of town—not my view of a cutting edge tool. Most magazines do not store anything. No, outside of a reference book a magazine is to me a portal, a gateway or entrance to the first step of a planned sales event; the establishment of a dialogue via traditional and innovative, emerging media and marketing tools.

Dialogue is defined as an exchange of ideas and conversation. This discourse should lead to an engagement, which means many things to many people, but for the sake of this article engagement is the meeting/visit/rendezvous/commitment of said seller with said sellee.

This may be a good time to ask, where am I going with this train of logic?

Simply put, I, as do others, define the goal of any magazine as a means to start the sales process with the establishment of a dialogue and the conversion of that exchange/dialogue to an engagement and then to, at best, a sale, or at least a continuation of the dialogue. Today this dialogue begins with the placement of a targeted advertisement, and with the support of new, emerging and converging technologies to allow the simple and easy transfer from the storehouse or gateway to the house of interaction.

But this not the future, and we need to look to the future!

To allow this transformation to take place I would agree with Earl J. Wilkinson and his recent article featured on the inma.com website.

I would counter that, yes, as Earl states, a road map has emerged—but I think the road map provided by Earl is missing a few key “rest stops”. As John P. McLoughlin, EVP and GM of Hearst Magazines stated over a year ago, magazines need to find other venues of revenue. Earl states this need as the first stop on his valued road map, Earl also outlines the need to focus on the magazines core competencies, the seemingly everlasting print-only based audiences, the merging or convergence of print and digital (P+D/P2D) and yes, the mobile world of the smartphone as milestones, markers of the golden path to increased and expanded profits.

But what about the need to refit, refuel and move forward on your road to success? Add a few key rest stops for establishing dialogue and engagement and I think the road map is nearly complete. Why nearly complete? Road maps as true travel almost never go as planned, so I think you need to build in some options that take into account road construction, sightseeing and detours. I will call those course corrections, emerging technologies and the convergence of new media into the traditional media mix.

Publishers need to consider experiential marketing and the defined 2013 trends that will impact their brands and those of their advertisers, because no trip planning is ever complete—it is always changing.

How do you handle those course corrections and how will they impact the industry? The answers next month.

Thaddeus B. Kubis is an integrated marketing communications, media convergence, and experiential marketing evangelist.

A passionate believer in the integration of all online and offline media, inter-digital integration, unified communications, the measurement and ROMI of any marketing program based on results, Thad acts as profit advocate for his myriad of clients.
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