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How to Create a Multiplatform Magazine Business Model

From content planning to determining your exit strategy, every successful multiplatform magazine business model includes planning these seven things

At Mequoda we spend a significant amount of time building custom business plans for our niche magazine clients who are adopting a multiplatform magazine business model. During this process, we run through seven elements of the business plan that guarantee success when properly implemented.

If the first half is done correctly, when you get to the modeling of revenues, profits and exit value, you will be surprised to see how far multiplatform publishing can take you.

The first step is determining which platforms you will publish on.

Most publishers who start with a print magazine brand will launch several free platforms. First they launch a free Portal with content that will attract users from search, free downloads and a free email newsletter, so that you can convert free website visitors into email subscribers.

Once subscribers are on an email list, email promotions are sent out to promote the print magazine subscription, bundled with several new paid platforms: a digital magazine app, a web magazine, and a magazine subscription website. Some publishers also have live events, both digital and in-person. Others have physical products, like books, that they sell. There can be many content platforms, the key is determining what priority you’ll launch them in, which is rarely all at the same time.

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Once your platforms are in place, put together a seven-part business plan that leverages your new platforms and determines revenue goals.

Content plan for a multiplatform magazine business model

Understanding what new content you need to create and what can be repurposed is crucially important for creating an efficient and profitable multiplatform publishing business.

Inventory all your content – including some you probably didn’t realize you had – create an in-depth master content schedule for your paid products, new free newsletter, and social media, and determine how existing content can be repurposed for all your new platforms.

Side note: Mequoda knows how you can do all of this and more without hiring a massive new staff! Schedule a call with us to chat about it!

Audience plan for a multiplatform magazine business model

You must ensure that all your products and platforms are focused on the right people. Develop an audience profile, including demographics and search data, in order to build your audience development plan.

Determine who to target, what they’ll buy, how much revenue they’ll contribute – even how they’ll all find your website in the first place! 

Revenue plan for a multiplatform magazine business model

Determine the future of your revenue by product, revenue by sponsor, revenue by channel. Identify profitable new products, determine if native advertising is for you and how much you’ll charge to create this content, and decide how to price your products. Identify your costs, risks and opportunities so you know what you need to invest and can take advantage of the investor funds flowing back into the publishing market if necessary.

Organization plan for a multiplatform magazine business model

You don’t have to hire an army of new employees, but you do have to know how to organize the ones you have to effectively execute a Mequoda multiplatform publishing plan.

Design it for your specific needs, not based on the traditional publishing model you’re used to. Multiplatform publishing involves not just content recycling, but talent recycling. Will your team be better organized by platform, or by content that gets distributed across multiple platforms?

Side note: We have a leaner, integrated, more cost-efficient model than the one most legacy publishers use that we’ll fine-tune for your needs if you let us.

Technology plan for a multiplatform magazine business model

No matter what CMS you choose, it should help build your email list to a complete, central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps you maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber.

We’ve built the Mequoda System to accommodate a robust multiplatform publishing business. And we’ve built this customized digital publishing and marketing system for far less money and in far less time than other developers because we leverage existing software that has been built specifically for the needs of today’s multiplatform publishers – our proprietary Haven Nexus System. Using our system, your technology plan means your organization reaps the benefits of stress-free technology, content-focused implementation and ongoing profitability.

Measurement plan for a multiplatform magazine business model

For every single year in the next five, calculate and see revenues, expenses, overhead and EBITDA.

Determine the metrics and data most important to your business to keep it performing as planned, despite the flood of data that bewilders even the most button-down publisher.

Exit plan for a multiplatform magazine business model

The unhappy reality now is that without continually-growing earnings, pure-print legacy publishers will find few or no willing buyers for their businesses when they decide to exit.

By becoming a growing, multiplatform publishing powerhouse, you can avoid the fate of many other publishers in today’s market who find themselves forced to shut down their companies at a loss, or give them away in a fire sale, as we see all too often these days.

Using the data above, determine how much your business will be worth five years from now, and follow in the footsteps of Mequoda clients, who sell their companies for eight times their earnings – sometimes 10 or even 20 times!

We know a few successful magazine publishing companies that were sold for substantial profits to media mega-companies. And they all got there by strictly following a Mequoda Group business plan above.

EatingWell, the iconic foodie magazine based in remote Vermont, sold to Meredith Corp. in 2011 for $29M.

“We believe EatingWell is a strong addition to our robust portfolio of multichannel food brands,” said Meredith Chairman and CEO Steve Lacy in a statement at the time, noting that more than 60 percent of EatingWell’s current revenues come from digital sources, licensing and custom marketing.

Farm Progress, a 200-year-old company publishing multiple farming newsletters and running massive live events, was acquired by Penton Media in 2012 for $80 million.

“Farm Progress is a high quality company — the team has delivered excellent organic revenue and EBITDA growth,” said Penton CEO David Kieselstein in releasing the news.

Interweave, a special interest and crafting media company, was acquired by F+W Media in 2012 for an undisclosed sum. F+W said Interweave would add 30%, or about $60M, to F+W revenues.

“The Interweave strategy mirrors the strategy set in place for each of our vertical communities. To provide an expertly curated portfolio of quality content, products and services, marketed and sold direct to our comprehensive database of core enthusiasts, through our robust e-commerce stores,” said F+W chairman David Nussbaum.

As Mequoda clients with operational Mequoda business plans, all three of these companies were solid multiplatform publishers deriving revenues from numerous streams. And they all sold for substantial multiples.

These stories shouldn’t be unusual, but sadly they are. In today’s stagnant business climate, some publishers face declining revenues and are forced to exit by shutting down at a loss, or giving away their company at a fire sale. Want us to create a custom multplatform magazine business plan for you? Schedule a 30-minute call with me and Kim Mateus to talk about it.

So tell me. How do you plan create growing revenues, multiple platforms and a successful exit?

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