Customer magazines, aka contract magazines, are a strengthening arm of corporate communications. They give brands all the appeal of a magazine and remain in front of the customer long after they have left the shop or consumed the service. They are part of the sector calling itself content marketers.
Strategic or tactical
They can be used strategically or tactically. Sainsbury’s used Fresh Ideas as its strategic magazine. It is sent free to customers with large Nectar card points. Its Sainsbury’s Live Well for Less Magazine is its tactical magazine. Live Well for Less is free, stapled and 48 pages including the covers. It has all the quality of a mid-range women’s magazine. It is created for Sainsbury’s by Seven.
John Brown creates Waitrose Kitchen for Waitrose. This is a strategic magazine. It has 100 pages and is perfect bound: ie glued at the spine. This means it does not have a centre fold and puts it up market. It has a cover price of £1.20.
Readers welcome them
Early concerns that readers would not think the contract magazines on offer would satisfy their interest are now unfounded. Readers don’t mind that these magazines are part of the marketing operations of their clients. They seem to welcome it.
Plug the new book
You can see a list and brief profiles of the top six content marketing companies on page 69 of Inside Magazine Publishing edited by David Stam and Andrew Scott published by Routledge. Out now in all good bookshops or order online. I’ve got two chapters in it and an appendix on legal issues.