Getting noticed on paper: print content marketing

Posted on 23/01/2013

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Fashion and travel brands are showing off and standing out with their print wares.

K Swiss's brilliant Gonzo World magazine

It was no surprise to hear that Timeout magazine in London was now being given out for free. Timeout might be the prince of listings for many people, but with a free website & Android app, no one was ever going to pay for the information on paper.

If friends and colleagues are anything to go by, it’s been a pretty popular decision. I’ve even heard people talk about changing their route into work, just so they can pick one up. The magazine is still a good read so it’s presence on the tube has made everyone’s commutes more pleasant.

However, I can’t help thinking that Timeout have made this move too late. Brands that are serious about reaching young urban audiences are already streets ahead (ahem) when it comes to content marketing.

Many have already set up their own magazines, not just online but in printed form.Nowhere is this done better than in the fashion industry where brands like ACNE, through to Toni & Guy and of course ASOS, have for years been printing their own mags with quirky content, style advice and a massive amount of product placement.

Travel brands have done this for a while and are good at it. Stuck in transit, passengers are grateful for some free entertainment, especially if it covers something they’re interested in (travel):

The ones I’ve read are really well done and entertaining. Even if they lack a bit of journalistic integrity (Brussels is hardly the world’s best city break…) I think most people are smart enough to work that out.

All these publications build their brand by helping the reader:

Easyjet – offers cultural highlights, events and out of the way tips for what to do (of course hoping that you choose a cheap orange plane next time you plan a holiday)

Toni and Guy – shows you the latest products and the styles. This magazine works hard to provide cutting edge advice for all things music and fashion. Brand building instead of a direct sell (though I’m not really in the market for hair products…)

K Swiss – presents itself as out there and eclectic with a curious menu of content. Definitely brand building but also redefining the brand through placement and partnerships with everyone from stuntmen, to musicians to comedians (until reading this the brand meant nothing more than tennis shoes).

Great content should work anywhere, so why the support for paper? Ultimately I think it’s a way to stand out for longer. Digital content is supremely disposable and we’re getting better at ignoring it. A beautiful, printed magazine bucks this trend by lingering around and being sharable in its own way (via the coffee table or seat pocket on a plane). These brands have scored a hit because they’re gone against the flow and identified times when people want a distraction: at the hairdressers, outside shop waiting rooms or while travelling.

For a generation who are constantly connected keeping them connected seems to pay off, even if it’s through print.

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