Why would a forward-thinking global manufacturer debut a print magazine in 2015?
The reasons are numerous, says Craig Coffey, Lincoln Electric’s U.S. marketing communications manager.
Lincoln Electric, a global manufacturer in the welding industry, launched ARC Magazine this year to:
- Fill a content hole for its audience
- Address the sales team’s need for better print materials
- Populate the company’s diverse content marketing
For the audience, ARC Magazine exists to “celebrate the passion of the many people who weld, cut, and shape metal every day, with interviews with some of the most recognized names in the field, and feature articles that will inspire them creatively and professionally.”
Coffey shares that the Lincoln Electric team recognized that type of content wasn’t available in their space, and it was relevant to the audiences the company wanted to target – new welders and seasoned practitioners, as well as parents and their children who are considering career opportunities.
For the sales team, ARC Magazine is a tangible tool, explains Coffey, who also serves as the magazine’s publisher:
In my gut, I think print is still important, but the real reason is we wanted something physical that customers who visit distributors could touch and page through while they waited. It’s a differentiator versus sales collateral that was too easy to ignore.
For the marketing team, “to say ARC is just print would be a misrepresentation; it can’t stand alone that way. It has to be digital too. It has to have a web presence. It has to have a standalone social presence. It has to be mobile-friendly. We wanted to deliver a multimedia experience,” Coffey says.
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Lincoln Electric takes a subtle approach to incorporating its brand into the editorial. Consider its July cover story – a feature on the celebrity duo from Gas Monkey Garage who brought their business of refurbishing and selling old cars onto the small screen in Discovery Channel’s Fast N’ Loud series. The show recently completed its sixth season, and Gas Monkey Garage has become a phenomenon, with its own restaurants, merchandise, and even a line of tequila.
The story definitely brings the cool factor to welding. Though the story doesn’t promote Lincoln Electric – it’s a natural fit because Lincoln Electric provides much of the equipment used on the show.
The Gas Monkey Garage feature isn’t unique – none of ARC Magazine’s features mention Lincoln Electric directly. However, the Lincoln Electric brand isn’t absent from the magazine. The Ask the Experts section features responses from the brand’s subject-matter experts, and its Master Class section is taught by a Lincoln Electric instructor.
Lincoln Electric also uses the magazine’s advertising pages to feature its own products and work.
How it’s created
The Lincoln Electric team spent more than a year planning for the magazine before it devoted resources to production. It took about four months to develop and validate the concept, and another two months to produce the first issue.
Lincoln Electric produces the magazine in-house, with John Bruening as editor (he writes, too) and Maggie Ryel as the art director. The marketing team’s writers, designers, photographers, and social media specialists all contribute. Outside talent – writers, illustrators, and photographers – also are involved to ensure the magazine meets the level of storytelling and aesthetic that will best engage the audience.
How it’s delivered
ARC Magazine’s content is distributed in whatever way readers prefer to receive it – print, web-based, or tablet (accessible through the Lincoln Library App in Google Play and the Apple App Store).
Lincoln Electric also uses social to deliver the content, creating its own LE ARC Media social brand. The LE ARC Media Facebook page and Twitter handle share the magazine’s content, post other articles of interest to the audience, and release company news. Its le_arcmedia Instagram offers all sorts of images from the magazine and its photo shoots.
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How it’s faring
It’s not as easy to measure the success of a print tactic as it is to evaluate the success of a digital tactic. In addition to having 7,000 people subscribing after the first issue, the marketing team has heard plenty of direct feedback from readers. Demand from distributors and orders have gone up as well.
“We are measuring every conceivable thing related to the online and digital footprint of the magazine and drawing correlations between what we see there and what we think we know about the print side,” Coffey says. “I’d like to think we balance a lot of qualitative and quantitative data to validate this effort.”
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute