Cover Story: Why Are Some Magazines Thriving?
Southern Lady was followed by other lifestyle titles—Taste of the South, Tea Time, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade, Cooking With Paula Deen and, most recently, Celebrate, focused on holidays and other important life events. In 2004, Hoffman did some acquiring of its own, purchasing fellow Alabama publisher Martha Pullen Co. and its Sew Beautiful magazine. Today, Hoffman Media consists of 10 magazines in addition to a book division, with revenues topping $42 million.
Hoffman believes her products are successful because they reflect an understanding of the needs, joys and desires of their audiences, such as the challenge of maintaining a traditional home amid the pressures of modern life. "You are selling a dream, but [the dream] also [has] to be achievable," she says.
Revenue in Balance
Having a balanced revenue stream of advertising, subscriptions and newsstand sales has helped the company through the downturn, as has the fact that its base of core advertisers from nonvolatile industries—such as cookware and food—has weathered the recession relatively well. The company also has been successful in rallying its loyal reader base around new revenue products such as live events.
"We're finding the event component with each brand is very strong, particularly with those [brands] that have been established for a while," Hoffman says.
The annual Southern Lady Celebration, held in a different location each fall, honors a Southern Woman of the Year—this year, Laurie Hickson-Smith, a designer on the TLC show "Trading Spaces"—as well as offering demonstrations, speakers, shopping and a chance to meet the magazine's editors. "The pages of Southern Lady actually come to life onstage with people who have been in the magazine," Hoffman says.
The company also hosts needlework and stitching schools and seminars, and sponsors events featuring Paula Deen and fellow Food Network star Sandra Lee.