Going Beyond Print to Save Magazines
Hanley Wood Finds Not All Readership is Digital
"If we don't save the advertising we can't save print," said Frank Anton, CEO of housing and construction publisher Hanley Wood LLC. Coming from the b-to-b side of magazine publishing, he also spoke of audience engagement, but explained that simply engaging readers was not the answer to his magazines' woes.
"Our problem is that people are not advertising in our magazines. So the way we're saving print is actually de-emphasizing advertising," he said. More and more, Hanley Wood is selling products to advertisers other than print ads. "We go in and we have data, so we'll talk about data. We have trade shows, so we'll talk about trade shows. We have electronic media, we talk about electronic media. We want to see what they're interested in, and once we get them interested in something ... it's a natural move then back to print. We used to go in and say give us your 24-times schedule ... and give us all the money you spend in the market. We no longer do that. We go in and say, 'What do you need? We have what you want. By the way, you need to be in the magazine.'"
However, that doesn't mean Hanley Wood isn't facing challenges on the reader front as well. The magazine is already half the size it used to be due to cuts necessitated by the housing market collapse. If you were a reader who was getting 80 pages of content and is now getting 40, "that magazine is half as important to you," said Anton. "So we're trying to rebuild the customer base so that we can rebuild the magazines and make them as big and rich as they were a few years ago."
Moderator Samir Husni asked Anton if he felt the print product was essential to Hanley Wood magazines—couldn't they just go digital? "Our readers are the guys in pickup trucks with their dogs in the front seat," he responded, pointing out that Hanley Wood was conducting a survey of those readers to see how they wanted their content. "Unlike any of us who sit at a desk all day, they're out at a construction site. ... They're just not online all day, so they still read magazines."