Many years ago, a partner and I owned a magazine publishing company. It was the typical David and Goliath Canadian business story. We where David, taking on a conglomerate, Maclean Hunter, at that time, a big Goliath. We lost.
MH is now part of Rogers which is where this story is leading.
Luckily for us, we had a decent side business doing contract publishing. We did, amongst others most notably, The Entertainer for Granada here in Canada, and "Food from Britain" for the British Government. Both were successful and had their run. At that time, there was an upstart company called Cantel and some of the Granada folks moved over there. We were called in to see if we could "Do that voodoo, that you do, so well!" for them. Vis a vis produce The Entertainer for this cell phone start-up-thing Cantel was running.
As we all know, Cantel is now Rogers.
No, this is not a Pete Best story of almost fame, this is a story of incompetence and how wrong a company can be, and continues to be … yet still survive. It is also that I love the magazine business. I was fortunate to be with some great publishers learning my craft and then own my own mags. I also was on the Canadian Magazine Publisher's Association Faculty. We have some great magazines in Canada.
I am a Rogers customer, but not by choice. A year or so back I needed a cell phone and as a Bell customer I simply could not get one – I lived right on the shore of Lake Ontario and I could get Rochester signals fine, but not Bell. My only choice was to lose Bell and get someone else. Rogers was it.
As a wireless subscriber I receive Connected Magazine which would have been our magazine lo these many years later. Same sort of stuff we would have done. Aspirational editorial, new widgets and gadgets and basically fluff between ads. In fact, I may or may not have the original mock up here somewhere (Must check?). We did not do a contract publication for Rogers, as I broke off the negotiations when one of their admin assistants became Vice President over night and would have been our client. I have nothing against admin assistants, I do have a lot against inexperienced amateurs. Especially if my income is determined by them.
Anyway, in our early discussions it was dictated that we would do the magazine at no cost and simply send them the proceeds. It got worse from there. We simply left.
Tonight I received an email from Rogers, no doubt you folks who are customers received it as well. It was a survey about their "Connected' magazine.
Now, in the magazine industry, your advertising is your life-blood. And one very powerful tool to sell those ads is the readers survey.
Now, before I go any further I am sure there is a Rogers exec that will totally condemn this article and provide umpteen rationales demonstrating I surely could never comprehend what they are doing and prove me wrong with some brilliant tactic they thought up.
Well, who cares?
There really is no advertising in the book. And any that is there is solely driven by Rogers as a cell phone retailer leaning on their vendors. Or, the ads are internal for other Roger's divisions.
The survey was basically two questions along with asking … who I am and did I want to win a $200 Rogers gift card? Pure research!
Question #1 – Did you get the mag?
Question #2 – Did I read, open it, don't know, threw it away or did I gave it to someone?
Well, there you have it then! Research at it's finest. Again showing …
"Research proves, research works!"
Reader's surveys, real, reader's surveys, need to probe the length of time spent with the mag, section preference, new ideas the readers may have, how many folks read the mag besides me (pass-along), attention to detail and scope of preferred interests of the readers and a lot more! Plus, in-depth reader demographics! But obviously, Rogers does not care. They did not care way back when they were Cantel, they do not care now.
I am so glad in any of the brief excursions into Roger's offices, I have chosen never to work with these folks. Could I have made money on the magazine or other projects? Sure, maybe … probably? Would I work with amateurs and not deliver my best work? No.
PS: If I win the $200 Gift Card – stay tuned, I will give it away here to one of you folks!