Customers magazines fit the marketing bill

Customer magazines are truly recognised as a successful and legitimate way of reaching consumers, while driving sales and building brand propositions (MW May 11). This is further reinforced by the DMA’s recent Participation Media 2005 study. Customer magazines were found to generate the highest level of positive response (34%) - with consumers making a purchase, asking for more information or passing on to a friend or family member – than any other form of direct marketing.

Because of this glowing report, I was disappointed by the attitude conveyed by the media-buying community. I disagree with Rob Helms that the customer magazines “that drop through our letter-boxes do not need to innovate because as an unsolicited marketing tool, its value on the consumer is lost.”

Firstly, customer magazines are not viewed as an unsolicited marketing tool – many people sign up to receiving them, making the medium the ultimate permission marketing.

Furthermore, it’s ridiculous to say that there is no need to innovate, all channels must evolve or risk being left behind. Trade bodies and media owners have a hard enough time fighting their corner in the current landscape without being labelled out of date.

Moreover, the fact that many magazines are distributed by Royal Mail means that media buyers will not only be privy to the exact demographic of who is reading them, but it will also have the opportunity to build a campaign over time since the same people will be receiving the magazine on a regular basis – something that newsstand titles can’t offer.

In addition, the very nature of posted titles has led to refinement of the medium. Growing numbers of customer magazines are being segmented and versionalised both geographically and according to lifestage and lifestyle, meaning that customer communications have never been so relevant (the Holy Grail for marketers) and this hasn’t been lost on consumers as proved by the fact that customer magazines are the second-fastest growing medium.

Julia Hutchison

Director

Association of Publishing Agencies

55/56 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

London WC2

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