Is It a Magazine, Direct Mail, or a Catalog?

By: Dave Erlandson

I’m always on the lookout for interesting print applications.  And last weekend I unfolded my copy of the Wall Street Journal and found a 68 page publication called The Wixon Experience.  The publication is a cross between a magazine and a direct mail piece, with elements of a catalog as well. Wixon Jewelers is a local jewelry store and this is the fourth year they’ve published this informative and promotional piece.

This 68 page publication has 26 “stories”, primarily written about products that Wixon sells, most less than a page in length, but adorned with exquisite photos and full page ads for the products discussed.  This strategy offers a more engaging method to advertise one’s products.

As you would expect the printing of the piece was of the highest quality with vibrant colors, super sharp images and high quality coated paper. The cover is enhanced with a textured coating giving it a rich feel.  It’s really an elegant piece.

While most articles were about products for sale there were a few about related topics. One that caught my eye was the Pantone color forecast for 2017. I learned that three of the hot colors are Lapis Blue (19-4045), Island Paradise (14-4620), and Greenery (15-0343). I hadn’t thought about the connection between Pantone fashion colors and jewelry, but it makes sense.

It was interesting that Wixon chose to distribute their publication as an insert to the Wall Street Journal.  I estimate the circulation in the Twin Cities to be about 20,000 to 25,000, which is not a large run for offset printing.  The demographics of WSJ readers are likely to be individuals with incomes high enough to afford their jewelry (They didn’t realize I was getting a free copy because I had a few United frequent flyer miles that were expiring and the only thing I could use them for was newspapers and magazines.)  If they get the demographics right then this is cost effective distribution option for static or possibly versioned print.

This publication seems like a great opportunity to employ the hybrid offset/digital model that Xerox was demonstrating at drupa. Assuming they have good records of what previous customers have purchased they could add an insert to the publication that promotes jewelry that complements what their customers have already purchased.  While they would have to pay for postage to mail personalized versions of the publication they could readily measure the response rate and calculate the ROI. Adding personalization to this publication will further blur the line between magazine, catalog, and direct mail, but it will make it an even more effective marketing tool.

By: Dave Erlandson

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