A Case for Custom Publishing
With a troubling economy causing magazine publishers to focus even more intently on generating additional revenue streams, custom publishing is one area that more traditional publishers are exploring. However, while a custom publication can be a profitable way to serve an existing client or attract a new one, it also can present new challenges for a traditional publisher that is not use to serving both an audience and a company in this manner.
Christopher Leach, editor-in-chief of HealthMatters magazine—which is published on behalf of Florida-based Liberty Medical Supply by EPS Communications of Woburn, Mass.—spoke with Publishing Executive Inbox about how traditional publishers can turn a client relationship into a successful, quality publication.
INBOX: How can a custom publishing program enhance a traditional publisher's business? What potential exists for publishers with custom publishing?
CHRISTOPHER LEACH: A custom publishing program gives traditional magazine publishers an opportunity to generate ancillary revenue from existing advertisers or from new clients. In a down economy, with advertising revenues declining in traditional media, custom publishing is an area that continues to grow.
The difficulty traditional publishers have is making the necessary cultural shift, and many have failed. Custom publishing requires a focus on the customer, because the customer "owns" the magazine.
An additional issue in traditional publishing companies is that the apparent synergy between the advertising, marketing and C-level contacts of the parent company are often jealously guarded by traditional sales and marketing staff who see custom publishing as a possible drain on their revenues, and thus, compensation. It is vital that a mainstream publisher, who is entering the custom publishing business as a way to gain additional revenue from existing clients, recognizes this issue and builds in cooperation and compensation plans accordingly.
INBOX: How can a publisher make a case to a corporation for a custom publication? What are the key benefits to emphasize?
LEACH: Customized content—free of competitive messages and developed for a target audience—offers the greatest benefit. It can be used for retention, acquisition, cross-sell and sometimes other missions. One example, IBM's Think Research, was designed to showcase the IBM research division's achievements to impress present and future customers and to affect IBM's perceived value among institutional investors.