Executive Insights: Advancing Vance Publishing
Peggy Walker is no stranger to publishing. During her 25-plus years in the business, she has held positions in everything from editorial to audience development, operations and executive management at some hefty publishing companies—such as Putman Media, Gorman Publishing, Highline Media and The National Underwriter Co. (now Summit Business Media). Almost eight years ago, she took the helm of 75-year-old Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Vance Publishing, as president and COO, and has steered the somewhat vast and varied company expertly through tumultuous industry waters.
Vance publishes 15 magazines—including Modern Salon, Salon Today, Custom Woodworking Business, and The Packer (for the supply chain of the commercial fruit and vegetable market)—with paid- and a mix of paid- and controlled-circulations that range from 13,000 to 120,000.
It has 38 websites associated with its brands, plus micro-sites and custom sites for its customers. Its early investment into digital has paid off, with more than 4.3 million unique website visitors in 2011, and more than 25 million page views. Vance’s e-newsletter initiatives are nothing shy of ambitious, and have played a major role in the company’s efforts to serve its customers with targeted, relevant content and audiences.
Audience development, data and research have been prime drivers of Vance’s growth, and while print still generates much of the company’s revenue, the growth has been, for most brands, largely digital. “We have more than 1.5 million subscriber records; of those, fewer than 500,000 are served through print products,” says Walker.
Here, Walker talks about where Vance is investing, what she sees as the company’s and publishers’ greatest opportunities in today’s market, and the changes in how the company is doing business today to remain relevant.
The Revenue Picture
Noelle Skodzinski: What is Vance Publishing’s fastest-growing revenue segment?
Peggy Walker: Digital revenue has grown at more than 30 percent CAGR [compound annual growth rate] since 2005.