By Joe Pulizzi published November 4, 2009

Custom Print Magazines – Why Can’t MasterCard Produce Inc. Magazine?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been reading more print magazines lately.  Seems odd at first, but in a way, it makes perfect sense.

I spend most of my business day and night on the computer. When I’m on my computer, I need to get things done.

But when I want to relax and engage in an inspiring story, print is my choice…books and magazines.

At the top of the list is probably Inc. magazine. This month’s article about how 37Signals founder Jason Fried spends his day was priceless.

Speaking of “priceless”, shouldn’t MasterCard be producing an Inc-type magazine? Or Verizon or AT&T for that matter. American Express OPEN does a good job with their OPEN BOOK. It’s good…but it’s no Inc.

What a missed opportunity? How about in your niche?  Is there an opportunity?

The Opportunity in Custom Print Magazines

Look, I’ll be the first one to say that the content channel choice depends on who the customer is and what the overall objective is. That said, here are some points to consider in your quest to be the trusted solutions provider for your customers and prospects.

  • According to research from the Custom Publishing Council, 80% of consumers prefer to receive company information in the form of educational articles.
  • Have you noticed less mail in your mailbox? I don’t know about you, but I’m paying more attention to what I receive in the mail today.
  • Print can be expensive (due to printing and mailing expenses), so take a good look at your database and who should receive it.  I recommend testing first…don’t send it to your entire audience at first.  Test out a portion and then review the results.
  • With traditional publishers (in many cases) reeling, this is an opportunity to become the leading provider of information for your industry.  I’m not kidding. For example, I used to be publisher of Fire Protection Engineering, an association magazine from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. In every study we performed, FPE was viewed as the leading magazine on fire protection engineering and was the #1 reason members joined. Or how about this print magazine example from TD Ameritrade company thinkorswim? Can’t you do the same?
  • According to the APA, engagement time in the average custom magazine is 25 minutes.  How would you like your customers spending 25 minutes engaging in your content?  You’ll never see “time spent” numbers like that on the web.

If you feel there is an opportunity to create the ultimate retention vehicle like a custom magazine for your customers, just be sure it’s the best.  There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have the best information on the planet for your niche.  And, if you are considering outsourcing your magazine project, start here. Even though there are many print magazines that are done internally, I’ve consistently seen the best coming out of professional custom magazine shops. And, if you are honest with the internal resources it takes to pull off a custom magazine project, it’s usually either a wash or perhaps cheaper to outsource.

More Resources To Get You Started

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Dan Hutson

    Hi Joe. My short answer to the question you pose is, “Because I don’t trust MasterCard.” That is, I don’t trust the credit industry in general at this moment because of what I consider the lack of integrity in how they serve (read: fleece) their customers.
    I DO trust Inc. and have long been a subscriber. It’s a great magazine that, as far as I’m concerned, owns the small business owner market.
    I know this isn’t primarily your point, but which comes first: establishing the trust/credibility to launch a title, or launch a title to build trust/credibility? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

  • Joe Pulizzi

    Love the question Dan…and your argument is exactly the point. MasterCard wants/needs to be a trusted resource for small businesses…but you currently don’t trust them. What if they sent you Inc. every month, coming from MasterCard. If they did this consistently, and the content was so fantastic (like Inc.’s) that you couldn’t put it down, would you begin to form a closer relationship with them? Possibly even begin to trust them?
    Financials are a tough example right now, but you get the point. Great content sent consistently builds a relationship over time. Why shouldn’t brands do what publishers have been doing?
    Thanks for the comment Dan.

  • health tips

    I think Dan hutson might be right.

  • Donogh Lane

    I’m with Joe on this. I’m working with a financial services company on a branded content project and trust is a huge issue.
    I believe the #1 content issue for brands is to focus on the consumer content need, not what the brand wants to say. If the choice of topics and editorial integrity reflects this, the trust will come – people aren’t stupid, and know a sales pitch when they see it, no matter how subtle.