Friday, March 20, 2015

Healthy & Fit Magazine: Collaborators and scarcity

A better writer than I  would be able to take all of these chunks-and-pieces and fit them into a seamless essay.

I am working on becoming that writer.  Meanwhile, you get what you get.

Collaborators


The relationship between Healthy & Fit Magazine and its most steadfast contributors is sufficiently novel to merit special mention.

Those steadfast contributors are also some of the magazine's most loyal advertisers, and  I suspect, some of the magazine's most zealous sellers of ad space.

This takes a deft touch.  The contributors write about basic, foundational health concepts....and they have ad space on the sidebar next to their article.  This would be entirely self-serving if they were making extravagant claims or shilling exotic treatments.  But in fact, their articles educate readers on issues any competent dentist, dermatologist, dietician, therapist....can handle without breaking into  a sweat.

New patients move into the Lansing area and are in need of medical providers.  Kids move out and start up their own households.  Older medical providers retire.  Sometimes "chemistry" or personality issues crop up that impair the patient-professional relationship.  All of these patients are looking for medical providers and Healthy & Fit Magazine is an efficient way for them to get a feel for who is out there.  There is no better way to marquee your approach than to pen an article and include an ad in the sidebar.

Contributors....part II


Frederick Herzburg's motivation theory can be tidily summed up in one word:  Ownership.

People are motivated when they can point at an entity and claim, "I did that!"  Ownership suggests that tasks be chunked up into natural-and-logical units.  Those units are defined by a natural beginning and a natural endpoint.

Most bloggers will occasionally quote people who they find inspirational.  A blogger who is a heavy quoter might have as much as 30% of the text post be quoted material...and that would be an infrequent event.  The quoted material will be interlaced with the blogger's original work. 

That is how we were taught to write.

The model used by Healthy & Fit Magazine is more collaborative.  Let me spell that word out very slowly      C-O - L - L-A-B-O-R -A-T-I-V-E.

It is almost as if the publisher "rents" out a two-page spread to each collaborator and tells them to make it a success.  He gives them guidelines, oversees with editing services and retains a lightly-used veto power.  And his collaborators RUN with it.  The collaborators OWNS their space.  They get the rush of publishing a "two page" magazine,  They get the benefit of the full readership of Healthy & Fit. And they do it with almost none of the headaches of publishing a magazine.

It is the full equivalent of Eaton Rapids Joe giving his buddies certain days of the week to write the blog.  Perhaps on Monday it would be ERJ-Dino_mite, on Wednesday it would be ERJ-Bob and Friday would be ERJ-Floater.  I would be the mortar.  My guests would "own" specific days to post their rants as long as they are in alignment with ERJ values.

The ERJ blog would benefit.  The viewing volume would harvest the networks of each of the guest posters.  Essays written by the "real" ERJ would be more honed and go through more drafts before they were published.

Few bloggers do this.  For the most part it is because we have too much ego invested in our blog.  It is a conceptual leap:  Letting others have access to our audience will increase our readership.

Manufacturing scarcity

One significant difference between hard-copy magazines and blogs is that the "availability" of hard-copy is finite and can be managed.

The Healthy & Fit publication volume is fine-tuned to cultivate the appearance of being highly sought after.  Suppose for a moment that Healthy & Fit could afford to flood the market with a million copies.  Most of them would be thrown away and would dilute---would poison---its image as a highly sought, avidly read publication.  Even if they distributed five times as many magazines as they currently do with the 12,000 unit production runs.

The lean publication volume ensures that every magazines will be snatched up in two weeks, maximum.  It trains readers to scoop up a copy if it is important to them.  It is also much more economical to publish slightly fewer copies rather than way too many magazines.

That is the opposite of the internet.  Value = demand/supply.  Anything on the open internet has infinite supply.  Anything divided by infinity is zero.  It is simple math.

Franchising


I asked Mr Kissman if he ever considered franchising because, IMNSHO, he has a great package that can be cloned.

The short answer is that he will talk to anybody about the possibility but he has no fire-in-the-belly to force that to happen.  That is not why he started his publishing business.

He started his publishing business because several factors came together at the same time for him.

One of the major goals in his life was to be a highly involved parent and to be there for his kids as they grew up.  His daughter was five when he started the business.  He knew that he would have a couple of very heavy years before the business started partially running itself.

Professionally he had worked in various capacities at four or five publications (depending on how you want to count), so he had the background.  It is notable that those publications were "small" so he was able to grasp the totality of each business and was not stymied by "silos".

Another factor that impacted the timing of when he started his publishing business was that a person became available who he trusted and was a good complement to his strengths....his mom.

His mom was recovering from a surgery.  Her mind is as sharp as a tack.  She has a very wide of connections within the Lansing area Health and Fitness community because of her previous employment with the dominant hospital and university in the area.  And she knows how to work a telephone is comfortable cold calling.

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