The Mark Allen recipe for success

Mark Allen Group is one of publishing’s success stories. James Evelegh looks at their winning formula.

By James Evelegh

The Mark Allen recipe for success
Mark Allen Group's St Jude's HQ ... pre-Covid.

In 2013, the turnover for the Mark Allen Group (MAG) was £16m. In 2018, it was just over £43m.

In this week’s podcast, Mark tells Ciar Byrne that in terms of the company’s trajectory, they are only “halfway up the mountain”. They are clearly doing something right.

What is the secret of their success? Listening to the interview, I spotted five reasons:

  1. The right culture: according to Mark, there’s little red tape and no “stultifying corporate ethos” but rather an emphasis on flexibility, agility, speed and a “can-do, participatory culture”.
  2. An empowered workforce: their approach is particularly evident in their handling of incoming staff from acquired titles, who often arrive demotivated and feeling unloved; MAG soon gets to work, getting them writing mission statements, presenting on away-days, and formulating action plans.
  3. A diverse portfolio: MAG’s brands are spread across twelve different market sectors. The creation of this portfolio, primarily through acquisition, was against the prevailing orthodoxy of the time which held that publishers should focus on developing deep expertise in a limited number of markets, but it has stood them in good stead, never more so than now.
  4. A mixed revenue model: Mark is not an evangelist for any one revenue stream. So… print is far from dead but digital’s great too; subs revenues (currently 26% of group revenues) are growing but advertising in their niche markets has a strong future too, as do events, currently virtual but soon to re-emerge as hybrid events in a post-Covid world. Money’s money.
  5. Employing talented people and treating them well. Mark has much praise for his “superb and focused team” and their “incredible creativity and ingenuity”.