Bauer Media Group manages a portfolio of more than 600 magazines, over 400 digital products and 50 radio and TV stations around the world. As a marketing consultant and writer for Camper Trailer Australia, I conducted readers’ surveys, re-branded and re-designed the magazine, and developed a specific editorial narrative by creating reader-focused content and engaging ‘characters’ in the magazines and across video and DVDs. I grew Camper Trailer Australia from a quarterly magazine selling 5,000 copies to a bi-monthly and finally monthly magazine selling over 15,000 copies (2008- 2012) each month. The success was a result of creating a product that customers needed and wanted.
I arrived in Australia from the US in 2007 and one of my goals included finding work that I loved and paid me to travel. Due to visa restrictions, I could not apply for a full-time job which forced me to get entrepreneurial. Based in Melbourne as a freelance writer and marketing consultant, I began writing for three publications at Bauer Media (then ACP): Camper Trailer Australia, 4×4 Monthly and Caravan World. This work not only paid my bills, but allowed me to travel all over Australia.
After writing for about a year and getting to know the landscape as well as the market, I realised the magazines were not selling to their full potential. Their target market was the cashed-up Baby Boomer generation who wanted to purchase expensive 4WDs, caravans and camper trailers and travel Australia with their generous pensions. Knowing there was huge demand, I hatched a plan: take Camper Trailer Australia from a quarterly magazine to a monthly magazine and show ACP/Bauer the full potential of their products in the market.
Customer & Market Research
The first step involved a reader’s survey. Most of the people working for Bauer Media at that time were enthusiasts – not people with journalism training or business experience. We needed data before we could meet our new sales goals. After our first survey, we used the feedback from 1,5000 readers and an extensive competitor analysis of other magazines, to re-brand and re-design the magazine and create characters that our readers would anticipate regularly reading about. We also realigned the brand to focus on quality, Australian-made products and stand out as the voice of the industry when it came to gear and aftermarket accessories. We wanted our readers to trust our advice and rely on our information and it worked. We took a quarterly magazine selling 5,000 copies an issue to a bi-monthly magazine – and all of a sudden sales doubled and the goal quickly became monthly.
We then decided to directly compete with another big publisher, Express Media Group, and publish a monthly magazine with cover-mounted DVDs. We took the challenge and in less than two years, Camper Trailer Australia was selling 15,000 magazines per month consistently. It was a huge success and ultimately led me to co-found Escape Media and launch, 4WD Touring Australia, the first monthly 4WD travel magazine and TV show in Australia (read about that case study here).
Biggest takeaways: Design products your customers want using data and research, know and understand your market intimately, competitor research is necessary and should be integrated into product design, and emotions drive purchases all of the time.