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Magazine relaunch: 5 minutes with… Dean Cook

Dean Cook, managing director of design and production services company, The Magazine Production Company, has become a publisher. We grab five minutes with him to hear about his new venture.

By Dean Cook

Magazine relaunch: 5 minutes with… Dean Cook
Dean Cook (right) and business partner John Allsopp (left) with around the world motorcycle adventurer, Jacqui Furneaux

Q: You've recently taken ownership of motorcycle magazine South East Biker, which you have relaunched with a new name, MotoGusto. As a supplier turned publisher, how would you characterise your approach to publishing?

A: My approach is to use publishing tools and use them well. Invest time to understand what’s available to you and how to connect them and cross-feed.

It’s important to establish an efficient filtered content workflow.

Many publishers I have spoken with over the years generally use one or two channels due to either limited resources or a lack of time to learn new skills and deploy new tools.

The digital environment is always evolving and needs to be embraced. However, the digital world has created an expectation that everyone uses it and that simply isn’t true. I often find that while most people have access to social media platforms, they don’t always use them. It’s still common to hear people say they prefer reading in print.

Our aim is to provide as much choice as possible and print is still a key component in our overall publishing strategy as it reaches people where social media can’t.

Our aim is to deliver motorcycle-related content and cross-feed it across a number of media channels to suit reader behaviour and attention spans.

Q: Was redesigning the magazine the first thing you did? What changes did you make and why?

A: Actually, the first thing was to lose the magazine’s geographically-led title! It really limited its potential for both advertising and readership. In an attempt to cast the net wider and further, we chose a name, MotoGusto, that would work across geographic regions and appeal to readers who share the passion. In turn, this should entice larger companies to get involved too.

The redesign was next. Keeping it simple is the priority in the early stages while we’re establishing the brand. This will also give us time to visually try things; which we can roll out further if they work. We’ve had extremely positive feedback on its new look; for me, that proves we’re on the right track.

We’ve had extremely positive feedback on its new look...

The typography and word counts had to work well in both print and digital as the same artwork, and its interactive elements, will be applied to both. As most smartphone cameras now automatically recognise QR codes without the need for a third-party app, we will be applying them in the printed magazine to direct readers to further content online, such as video. (In the digital version of the magazine, videos will play automatically.)

Next was to create a new website, Instagram and Twitter accounts and convert the original Facebook page to the new brand.

While lockdown for many companies meant they had time to rethink strategies, for us, in addition to our day jobs, we spent evenings and weekends to completely rebrand, rebuild and relaunch.

Q: What is your strategy to increase advertising revenue in the magazine?

A: Recognising many business owners struggle with marketing, I view ourselves as an affordable marketing service offering a monthly subscription-based model, which entitles our customers to use all the features available on our publishing platform.

We’d rather invest their spend to craft specific content about their products and services and cross-feed it throughout our available channels. We will still offer static adverts in the magazine as a brand awareness exercise.

Our other strategy goes back centuries; taking the time to meet people face-to-face! It goes a very long way towards build relationships. At a recent motorcycling event, we came away with three good new prospects – companies who liked what they heard and agreed to support us.

One other option we’re considering is renting our magazine to retailers as a marketing tool. Being extremely flexible and quick to react, we can repurpose existing content with a retailer’s messaging and swap out advertisements with their suppliers therefore creating an affiliated MotoGusto-branded magazine which they can insert when fulfilling their online orders. The affiliation would be great exposure for us and it’s a cost-effective marketing opportunity for retailers to be able to offer more value for their customers. We can also pop their magazine online with a private link so they can share across their own social media.

Q: How important is fostering a sense of community amongst your readership and how are you going about it?

A: Extremely important. It’s developing a sense of belonging, a club. Just as we’re meeting future supporters and sponsors face-to-face, we’re meeting and inviting content creators to use our platform to reach new audiences; in turn they would reshare their published work with their followers and hence build our readership.

Q: If all goes according to plan, what will the MotoGusto brand look like in five years' time?

A: Ask me in five years’ time and I will gladly tell you! To visualise that far ahead is difficult. Our affiliation model is at the core of what we’re trying to do: we’re here to support one another to share ideas, experiences, values and information, through words, sound and vision so we can grow together.

Q: As a long standing, and continuing, supplier of design and production services to publishers, what have you learnt from your first few months as a publisher?

A: At last, I’m in a position to practice what I preach! Applying recently acquired skills to fulfil roles I wasn’t previously involved with, I can see where further efficiencies can be employed such as being able to react faster to press releases than some of the larger publications. I hope that my ability to wear two hats – publisher and supplier – will be a key ingredient in building a reputable and flexible independent publishing brand.

About us…

Here at The Magazine Production Company, our services can be delivered in a way that suits you, your project and your budget. Our clients are rarely the same in how they approach their needs. Some need only a certain skill set to bolster their own team, whilst some clients need the whole suite of services. If you’re looking for a production company to partner with in a way that suits you then we are exactly what you are looking for. Our flexibility and experience allow us to fit seamlessly into your project and your team. And if you need to discuss your options with us, we are always available for advice or a free consultation and quote.

01273 911730