Designing a magazine/ catalogue for your company’s product

Entrepreneurship or Small Business

Companies sometimes would publish magazines/catalogue for free distribution to their customers.  For example, banks would publish rewards brochures, IKEA would publish their magazines, Tupperware and direct selling companies with their catalogue, greeting cards companies would have their  product catalogue (even though it is often not distributed for free).

Product catalogue or magazines can create awareness of your company’s product- and if you are selling products, show your customers how to use the product– and it can increase your sales.

Today, we would do a case study on how a company make use of publication to extend sales and revenue.

Case study: Astro View magazine published by Astro Malaysia

Update: Astro have ceased production of their magazine for years. As cable TV in Malaysia is mainly by them, consumers have no choice. However if there are competiting companies, then doing e-catalogue would be a good idea.

Astro View is a monthly publication that is sent once a month for free to all Astro subsribers (Malaysia’s TV cable network).  Initially, the purpose of the magazine is to provide the program listing page to all the subsribers. If a customer wants an additional copy, the magazine cost RM4.80.

Hence, during the beginning, the magazine was quite thin and basic. As it mainly consists program dates and schedule. And yet, customers may freak out if they did not receive the magazines- because they may be addicted to some TV shows and need to know the timing where the programs are being shown. Even though basic, the publication served an important need.

However over the years, the Astro magazine had really evolved and improved in terms of presentation, content and marketing its products. So much so that there are a number of entertainment articles that you can find in the magazine.

Example is the September issue (sorry, I only have time to draft the article now even though I’ve taken the pictures few months ago):

The cover usually contains the theme of the month- either the month’s most anticipated show, a new program series that Astro wished to highlight or to highlight a festival that falls on that particular month like Deepavali or Hari Raya.

The table of contents look as good as any magazine cover- where some advertisement by 3rd parties of non competiting business are being featured.

Subsequently, as your browse through the pages, it would contain entertainment information of related programs shown by Astro and some ‘family solutions’ or tips.

For example, on the left page above, Astro is offering a ‘solution’ for cases where family members fight over the remote to watch different programs. Subsribe to Astro Beyond and it can solve the problem. Then on the right page there is a writeup on Adam Levine- a popular singer…. he is now a host in the show “The Voice” shown in AXN.  It creates interest to attract more to watch the show- since Adam Levine is a very popular singer.

Aside from that, this edition also carries the comic content together with a maze game which would really interest children to subscribe to the cartoon channel.  And below there’s ‘spot the difference’ between 2 pictures- where it highlights a program on Nickelodeon channel.

Therefore you can see, if I am an Astro subsriber, I would be tempted to subsribe to an additional package that I did not have after reading the magazine after seeing a preview about that program or what that channel has to offer. By seeing the program channel that contains only words indicating date, time and shown on each program- it is not interesting enough. With more visual cues, it makes a channel more appealing.

And not all program channels are listed in the publication- channels like Channel V or MTV which are mainly watched by the younger groups – the program listing is in Astro’s website and not found in the book. Personally, I prefer checking the magazine compared to the website.

How you can apply the Astro magazine concept to your business

Astro had managed to make its magazine interesting- and if you are considering to come up with a company publication….be it a newsletter or magazine… make it interesting. Don’t pack the newsletter with only official content such as speeches from CEO, COO or company vision and blah blah. Or overly praise for the company’s product and services. It would put whoever your target audience to sleep and the magazine would land straight towards the trash can.

That would be a waste of cost and effort, wouldn’t it?

OK, if the CEO or the company’s key person’s message must be there- then put it there. But place other interesting content in the magazine such as:

  • how people can use your product- physical illustration can do
  • contents that your company plan to run and prizes provided
  • motivational articles related to your product. For example, if your company sells storage boxes and cabinets, then have some articles on storage solutions or tips of being more organized, etc

Also include cross promotional product- means cross sell various products in the magazine. Don’t make it too much like a sales pitch. You can take the lead from Astro- where they put in games, riddles, cross word puzzles, spot-the-difference to engage interest.

Of course, if you are using any content that is copyrighted, then you need to get clearance or pay to obtain rights to publish the article. Don’t scrape other site’s content because it may land your company in trouble. For example, Astro would have paid for all the photos and content used in its website and publication.

Physical copies can be distributed to your targeted customers. And a pdf copy can be made available online for distribution. If the magazine or publication contains useful content, people would download or share it with others. Else, you can also put the magazine as pages in your company’s website- so that when people share the content, there would be a link for them to come back and visit your website.

With time and experience, your content can evolve over time. Often, the content matters the most. I know there is an in house publication of a company that gets thrown into the trash each time it gets distributed to employees. It is a waste of money as the publication is done using the paper of the highest quality- but because many staff view the magazine as nothing more than managerial ‘boasting’ with ‘boring’ content that adds no value to them, they do not see any point of keeping it. It looks good on the outside, but brings no value to anyone.

So, provide value. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes- and put content that they want to see and would treasure. Give them a reason to keep your magazine (and be reminded of your company and its product and services) instead of throwing it to the trash.

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