Sustainability by the spread

By | May 6, 2019

It is hard to imagine that it was 10 years ago that we were suffering under the lash of the housing market crash and subsequent stock-market collapse.

A big part of those effects hit us in the sector I refer to as “occupied space,” that sector comprising secondary wood products, floor coverings, kitchens and baths, lighting, wall coverings and others. For us, a dive in housing investment yields a dive in revenues in a directly correlated, objective, measurable manner.

Kerry Knudsen

One area of huge change was the dissolution of most of the trade magazines in North America. Not just in our area. They all got hit. In wood, FDM and Cabinetmaker reorganized under new ownership, as did Canada’s Woodworking magazine. Wood and Wood Products, Custom Woodworking Business, Wood Digest, Modern Woodworking and others simply died. In fact, the only publication I know that survived under its original ownership was this one: Wood Industry.

I haven’t heard how our competitors address that fact, but the reasons are basically education, experience, track record and, importantly, a direct, close and personal trust relationship with our readers, which yields ROI. This has captured the imagination of the American Society of Business Publications Editors (ASBPE), and I am addressing this topic at their annual convention Thursday of this week in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Ten years ago, most of you were having headaches splitting your marketing budget between multiple print and digital resources. And, while the budgets crashed when the markets did, the fact remains that most of you had multiple exposures to the market each month in print, and more often in digital.

For the most part, marketing budgets have not returned to their pre-crash levels. After all, why should they? There are fewer little magazine birds squawking with their mouths open. In addition, there are not as many of your own competitors still breathing. The crash took its toll there, as well, with such hardware megaliths as Blum operating in a reduced profile, Homag under still another reorganization and many smaller machinery suppliers either out of business or significantly diversified into other areas.

On the other hand, the industry is not operating at capacity and, for reasons explained before, North America’s primary competition from the Far East is under pressure from political, economic and social issues, within and without.

Most of you learned in school that successful marketing relies on name recognition and on being top-of-mind when the idea hits a customer that he or she should upgrade to meet market demands or potentials. If so, you also learned that repetition is the mother of education, and your job is to out-educate your competitors.

Yet, we have established that you are not getting the numbers of impressions today that you did before the crash, and we have established that we are in an environment of unrealized demand.

Now, it is reasonable to argue that there are fewer magazines than then, yielding fewer opportunities to get those impressions. You can no longer hit five magazines a month.

Well, yes and no. There are certainly fewer magazines. Further, Wood Industry is only a six-times-annual publication, so it only counts half of an annual in terms of frequency and you have to hit each issue twice to get 12 impressions.

The advertisers in our flooring magazine, Coverings, have addressed this matter on their side by increasing their exposure in each issue, and they are benefitting. Such internationally recognized brands as Proma, Ardex, Schluter and Custom Building Products are buying double-page spreads or are buying sequential or serial ads to increase their reader response. Mapei pays a premium each issue to be positioned in the most-read position in the magazine, that being the page across from my frank, sometimes blunt, editorials. And it has been working for them for nine years. Importantly, each of these companies started with us small, recorded an ROI and increased their spend, sometimes by a factor of four.

You have a choice to make. We are presenting a loyal, responsive, energized market that trusts us and we are pointing at education, experience on both sides of the border and volumes of successes in helping trade, consumer and association magazines. If you like you can read about it on LinkedIn. Our readers get original, focused, professional editorial copy, as opposed to the advertiser-controlled, part-of-the-deal, “value-added” stuff the readers tell us they dislike more than anything.

For now, it is sufficient to note that we are on your side. By holding our position, we have preserved the marketplace as a viable and approachable exchange. With help, we can expand it. Our readers in the United States and Canada have named me, personally, as the most-recognizable personality in our industry in all of North America, and people on the supply side and the readers side believe us when we speak.

In The Art of War, 2,500 years ago, Chinese General Sun Tzu pointed out that generals will kill for information. They will also kill bad messengers for bad information. We should take this to heart when our readers tell us they think advertisers are controlling content, and that they think journalists are nothing but stenographers for suppliers and special interests.

Sun Tzu was right. Each of our magazine’s recipients is a general officer in the command of his company, and each reads Wood Industry for independent information. This is why the ASBPE is asking me to address them on the issue of business plans for trade magazine survival, as well. It may surprise some, but if magazines don’t assure the survival of their readers, there is an ash pit right down the road just waiting. Assuring survival demands that you know what you’re doing.

We are running a special this spring, designed to help you get your message out to your market in support of your participation in the AWFS and WMS shows this year in Las Vegas and Toronto. Buy two ads at your program rate, get a three-month web ad, Supply Side and either Canada or US e-letter for half price.

In addition, and in conjunction with the above special, we are offering special rates on high-impact programs featuring double-page spreads, serial or consecutive ads in each issue.

Finally, one of the most-influential ad presentations is the half-page spread. Available in vertical, horizontal or island formats, the half-page spread is particularly powerful since it dominates the spread so no other ads can compete with it, and it is inherently adjacent along all inside edges with Wood Industry’s famous editorial content. We are offering a spectacular rate on half-page spreads through the rest of 2019 to help you optimize and energize your new ad program.

Here’s the deal: if you buy an ad program of three full pages or more in consecutive issues, and are committed to expanding your influence and reach, we will provide that number of half-page spreads at the full-page rate in the same issues for the price of a full page, a savings of 27 percent. In addition, each half of the spread will count as a single ad in determining frequency discounts. However, half-page spreads cannot be separated to use as two singles.

Contact Steve King via email, or phone 416-802-1225. While ad sales for this issue are closed, I am travelling this week so you can likely still get in.

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