By Joe Pulizzi published January 4, 2011

LEGO Club Magazine & the Power of Print

Lego Club Magazine Ninjago

A few months ago I wrote a post on why print would come back in 2011.  Truth is, it never left.

Case in point. A few weeks ago my two boys received their LEGO Club magazines in the mail. The feature this month was a new series called Ninjago (which they had never heard of before reading the issue). Since that time, the following has occurred:

  • My kids know the full story of Ninjago, including the wise Sensei Wu and sleek Cole (yes, I know the characters).
  • Lobbied to use their Holiday gift certificates at Toys R Us buying a Ninjago spinning game (Spinjitzu) and a limited-edition Ninjago LEGO set (which they found out about from the magazine). Dad has yet to win at Spinjitzu, but I’m coming on strong.
  • The boys fought over using the computer before school so that they could play the Ninjago online game on LEGO.com.

To top that off, my oldest came into my office this morning before school, excited to tell me about the new Ninjago cartoon premiering on Cartoon Network January 14th.

Truth is, it’s not just about the magazine…it’s how the custom magazine integrates with everything else (distribution partners like Toys R Us and Cartoon Network, the website, the online games, the packaging, etc.).

LEGO is one of the best examples of telling a unique story that compels their customers to action. They do this in print (custom magazine and catalog), online (games and stories), in-person (LEGO club meetups), television (special LEGO series and DVD videos) and more.

Let’s look specifically at what LEGO does to deliver information to customers that creates a true LEGO experience.

  • LEGO has been delivering consistent content to customers in the form of a print magazine. They have been doing this at usually a 6x per year frequency for over 20 years (I used to get the original Brick Kicks in the 80s). The content has always revolved about how target consumers can take their products to the furthest level of their imaginations.
  • LEGO puts on targeted roadshows around the country for LEGO fans to meet with other fans and see LEGO creations, as well as contest opportunities.
  • LEGO promotes user-generated content EVERYWHERE. You’ll see this in the magazine and all over the Web site.
  • LEGO understands the end-user, but also understands the role of key influencers and other decision makers. To bring those decision makers into the fold, LEGO promotes family events and content specifically for parents (i.e., they target C-level executives).
  • LEGO leverages user case studies whenever possible.
  • LEGO segments their customer base with different types of content. While LEGO magazine is great for many of their customers, a good portion of their customer base, which I would consider the “high-spenders,” need more attention and have more advanced content needs. Thus, LEGO Brickmaster was born.
  • LEGO created a user discussion forum so that builders could connect with other builders. They also provide a social networking function where customers can personalize their pages and showcase their designs. Some companies outside of LEGO are now dedicated to enhance the LEGO experience (i.e., BrickJournal.com).
  • LEGO is a licensing king and has created non-traditional content channels such as gaming (LEGO Star Wars), movies (Bionicle and Exo-Force) and hundreds of book titles.

This is just some of the great content that LEGO is distributing consistently and frequently to their customers. And, it’s not just good content, it’s great content that mixes interesting stories with eye-catching design to create a true user experience.

And guess what? It starts with print.  Go figure.

For more on custom magazines, check out this post on the 10 Commandments for Custom Magazine Failure.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • http://www.rob-berman.com Rob Berman

    Who said print is dead? My 12 year old reads the daily newspaper we get plus he skims the Wall Street Journal. He receives several magazines a month as well. I think the LEGO integration you featured in the post is so well thought out. One other item that LEGO does that my son participates in in First Lego League which features progrmmable robots, a course filled with LEGOS and a great team building experience.

    Rob

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Rob…you are right…print is definitely not dead.

      I didn’t know about the First LEGO league. We’ve done some stuff at the science center on programming LEGO NXT’s…maybe that’s part of the program.

      • http://www.rob-berman.com Rob Berman

        Joe:

        You use the same kind of robots but the kids need to program them to do a series of tasks. Everyone in the country who participates gets the same challenge. They also need to prepare a 5 minute presentation and meet with judges to talk about their solution to the challenge. This year the theme was robots and medicine. The kids invented a smoothie that was heart healthy. My son’s team went to the state championship this year and last year.

        Cool stuff to look into for your kids.

  • http://www.drivenmg.com/blog Nathan Driver

    can we say that print is not dead rather the mundane print that is reprinted over all media? LEGO is being original in their magazine and my 6 yr old loves it.

  • http://www.jeffmolander.com Jeff Moladner

    Are they telling stories? Or are they always IN CONTEXT?

    Isn’t Lego always finding ways to give customers something valuable — AND pairing it with a chance to express explicit or latent need?

    How did they get to ninjas? I’d argue that it wasn’t happenstance.

  • http://www.workhappynow.com Karl Staib – Work Ha

    My kid loves Lego’s. He is only 18 months old but he screams for Legos when he wakes up in the morning. It’s so much fun to see.

    I didn’t know Lego had that big of a network. I’m going to head on over and sign up my kid for the magazine. Thanks.

    Print will never die as long as it’s used in conjunction with the online world.

  • http://hometryst.com Hometryst

    It is great! Nice read though, LEGO is my childhood toys until now my child still playing LEGO. I really love LEGO!

    Homes, Properties, Condos for Sales

  • http://www.zmags.com/blog Joakim Ditlev

    As a Dane growing up in the neighbouring town of Billund, where LEGO was founded, I take a lot of pride in seeing how LEGO constantly rethink themselves.

    One of the best examples is when they upgraded their Mindstorms series in 04-05 by involving their community. They more or less had their most nerdy customers dictating their next prodcut serier – and it was carried out way before crowd-sourcing became trendy. Found this old Wired story on how they did it: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.02/lego.html

    On the marketing side I agree that Lego offers a lot of great content. However, the greatest content is what they facilitate their customers to create: It’s the ones kids are building using Lego bricks and products, and the company does a really good job inspiring to create and tell these stories.

  • Pingback: Strategic offline marketing might be the key to success in 2011 | Ittadi -The Etc's of life()

  • http://lego-adventcalendar.com Carlton T. Driver

    I’m glad to know that others support the continuing importance of print media. There is much to be said for the experience of reading from the printed page, not just the glowing screen. It’s great that Lego appreciates this, and supports it with their magazine.

    On another note, I think the Lego company is a fantastic example of corporate growth through imagination and excellence; their transition from a simple “plastic brick” company to a provider of a wide variety of specialized toy lines shows what can happen when creativity is valued.

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com Lewis LaLanne

    My question is, “What AREN’T these guys doing right?”

    Holy smokes, Lego is a marketing beast!!! Sometime ago I took notes on the documentary “6 Days To Air” that profiled the the ambitious creation of an actual South Park cartoon episode and one the creators of the show, Trey Parker talked about how when he hits the writing wall, he builds Lego projects because it’s someone else telling him what to to do instead of him having to be creative.

    That comment of his sold me on getting some Legos again but the post has me raring even more to get a set and start being a kid again so that I can become a richer adult using this company as inspiration.

    Thanks Joe for exposing me to these Ninjago Marketers!