Blog: Partners of Convenience

For decades magazines have been the place where companies and brands come to advertise. Whether its ads for flashy cars, sparkling jewelry, or the latest perfume, magazines have been able to utilize full-page ads as the place to get noticed. But times have changed, and now magazines should start looking at advertising themselves. Many already do. On websites, and, ironically, inside the pages of another magazine. 

And that’s a great way to grab the attention of a readership that already knows you exist. But how do you reach out to a crowd that doesn’t usually read magazines? Do you promote your major articles on TV news shows? 

Sure, you could do that. But with universally declining TV ratings, and the pervasive use of DVRs, people can just skip things they’re not interested in. Younger viewers, especially those under thirty-five, tend to not have cable at all. And that number of cord cutters is only growing. So are you just promoting your magazine to an audience that is shrinking every year?

How about radio ads? … No.

Online ads? Sure, but pop-up-blockers and ad-blockers can turn them into a whole lot of useless, unseen pixels. 

So what’s left? 

Digital Partnerships. 

A digital partnership is when a media outlet develops a partnership with an online personality. Whether its a YouTuber like Tyler Oakley, an Instagram star like Kylie Jenner, a podcast star like RuPaul and Michelle Visage, or a traditional celebrity who just happens to have a ton of followers like The Rock… creating a partnership between your brand and their brand can be invaluable. If your magazine lines up with their brand, you’re more likely to be appealing to their vast fan base. 

Maybe they post a picture on Instagram of them reading your magazine. Or they tweet about an article you just published. Maybe they talk about you on their podcast. Or maybe they just bluntly tell their followers: “Hey guys, subscribe to this magazine. They’re awesome!”. A person discovering your brand via a personality they already trust and respect can be far more advantageous than discovering your brand via an online ad or TV commercial. People create connections with people they follow online, so it’s not like they’re being sold something. They’re being recommended something by someone they trust. 

There are a few ways of creating these connections. Obviously, you want to connect with a brand that shares your values and intentions. A weight loss magazine pairing up with the KFC Twitter account probably won’t result in a whole lot of “brand synergy”, if you like the fancy marketing terms. 

Some great examples of good partnering are these podcasts:

First, we have “The Jenna Julien Podcast”, starring YouTube superstar Jenna Marbles, and her partner Julien Solomita. The pair focus on promoting brands that are all about comfort and making life simpler, like MeUndies, Postmates, and Quip. While “What’s The Tee?”, with RuPaul and Michelle Visage of RuPaul’s Drag Race, tend to focus on brands that are a bit higher end, but focus on convenience. TodayTix, a company that helps you get last minute theatre tickets for less; Casper Mattress, an affordable luxury mattress brand; and the omnipresent SquareSpace are three of their most well-known partners. 

Outside of podcasts, The Rock and Henry Cavill are well known for promoting high-end alcoholic drinks on Instagram (especially Scotch), while the Jenners and Kardashians focus on fashion and beauty products. 

The best way to go about creating a digital partnership is to find someone who really aligns with your brand. It’s actually better to focus on more niche personalities online. People with smaller, more engaged fan bases. Their subscribers don’t just passively watch or listen to their content, they count down the minutes until their next post. YouTube mini-stars like Lindsay Ellis, ContraPoints, and PhilosophyTube fall into this category. 

Lindsay Ellis, ContraPoints, and PhilosophyTube

So, if you’re a niche magazine, set out to find an online personality who shares your interests. Someone whose fans will find your content engaging and worth subscribing to. If your magazine isn’t about video games, don’t go after LetsPlayers just because they have the most YouTube subscribers. It can pay off a lot more if you do your research and target a specific audience, rather than saturate the the digital marketplace. There’s a fine line between ubiquity and over-exposure.

So create a connection. Develop a relationship. And figure out a deal that will be mutually beneficial. If you can get that one person to come on board your brand, their thousands – or even millions – of fans will probably join the ride. 

-James Somerton


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