MPA-IMAG 2009 Conference Coverage: August Home Publishing is a True Inspiration for Multi-Platform Publishers

Don Peschke, founder of August Home Publishing, discusses how his company is meeting its mission of “surrounding our customers with service”

Saying that August Home Publishing is “meeting” its mission of surrounding its customers with service, in my opinion, is a massive understatement. I think it’s more like exceeding, surpassing, blowing-out-of-the-water its mission of surrounding its customers with service.

For anyone in publishing, whether product-driven, ad-driven or both, Don Peschke’s August Home Publishing company and business model should be a blueprint for success and a true inspiration for surpassing customer needs.

In a panel titled “Extending Brands Beyond the Page” at the MPA-IMAG Independent Magazine Conference this week, Peschke shared all the ways his organization is repurposing and charging for content across many platforms.

He opened with a few notes about how people learn:

  • 20% of the general population learn by reading text
  • 40% learn by seeing
  • Some learn kinetically (by experience)
  • Others learn via 3rd/1st person

Peschke showed his company brand wheel, which had the customer in the middle with at least 15 spokes representing all the touch points he’s created to engage his customers and generate lots of revenue in the process.

Annuals: One of the first things he did with his existing print magazines was to create a bundle of 6 issues into an annual.

PlansNOW: He’s disaggregated articles from his magazine and put them onto the Web as PDFs, which he calls PlansNOW. This is content that was in his print magazine, that someone could have purchased for $5 and gotten a bunch of other info along with it, but can now download the single article immediately online for $10. They sell 100-200 plans a day at $10 bucks each.

Paid Membership Sites:
They also operate paid membership websites, with 3 different offer levels. They have Classic, Gold, and Platinum. He says most get platinum and spend $30. They currently have 3K members and plan to have 10K by end of year. He reminded us that this costs them nothing.

Email Newsletters: Their email newsletter strategy is to send out weekly E-TIPS. These are smaller bits of content and include video. “This [E-TIPS] is all about selling stuff,” said Peschke.

Woodsmith store: Yes, they own a store! Why would a publishing company own a store? Well, so they can sell the power tools and lumber that are featured in their tips! Peschke noted however, that they refer to the store as an “information center”, as they offer live woodworking seminars every Thursday night, hosted by one of the print editors.

Live Seminars: See above paragraph. Also? The seminars filled up so much that the attendees in the back of the room complained they couldn’t see the instructor. So they put up TV screens for people in the back to see. This went on until one of their customers asked if they were taping the seminars. So in went the tape and podcasts were born…

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Podcasts: Peschke realizes he isn’t generating any revenue from these podcasts but does recognize the value in generating brand awareness around the globe. They get about 1000 downloads a week globally.

IOWA Public TV: Thanks to the success of their live seminars, they were approached by the IOWA public TV station to do a TV show. August Home is now a full HD broadcast quality TV production company. Three times on the show they are allowed to point to the Woodsmith website, where they sell magazine subscriptions, offer the E-TIPS signup and sell books.

SIPs (Special Interest Publications): To keep with their mission of trying to repurpose the magazine content in as many ways as possible, they tried doing some SIPs. They tried one on tools and one on new plants. This didn’t work so well, as they don’t take advertising, so they moved to…

SIBs (Special Interest Books): Now they publish what they are calling SIBs, which are 100 pages, with no advertising. The sell-through on these on the newsstand is 50-60%. They now have 27 different titles in 4 different content areas. Their SIBs also include CDs… why CDs?

CDs: You will find CDs that accompany each of the SIBs. This is so they can drive traffic back to the site for E-TIPS signups! They are also using their SIBs as premiums for magazine subscriptions.

Peschke says that all these different ways to contact and connect with customers will lead to “Magazine 2.0”.

It will include:

  • E-delivery
  • paid content (subscription or pay per download)
  • targeted content (quick read, less than 5 minutes)
  • professional content, professionally edited.
  • UI designed for a screen (not PDF)
  • media rich text, photo, video and  audio
  • interactivity

At the end of his presentation, he showed us his organizational chart, an M&M cookie. He explained that it’s all the different kinds of content (M&Ms) held together with the dough of their mission. “Give your users different bits of info delivered on a platform they enjoy,” said Peschke.

And remember, “all websites should be created with the intention to sell. All strategies should be directed at transactions.”

More from MPA-IMAG 2009:

The Future of Publishing with Bo Sacks

10 Lessons Learned from Taunton’s Membership Websites

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