The Proof Is in the Print

detroit is the future for printing in Michigan

We’ve heard it said many times: Print is dead.
But startups are questioning this idea.

“It’s just like in retail [where] people are saying stores are dead,” said Ethan Song, co-founder of menswear startup Frank & Oak. “[Stores] used to be the main thing, and they’re not anymore. But they’re still very impactful.”
Frank & Oak, which is headquartered in Montreal, is pouring resources into the supposedly antiquated medium of magazines. The three-year-old firm has a team of 10 people who exclusively create content for its biannual magazine, Oak Street, which launched last year.

“We looked high and low, but couldn’t find a magazine that covered all the things we’re passionate about,” wrote Song in the inaugural Oak Street issue. “We are building a community of artists and entrepreneurs with a desire to make a small dent in the world.”

With thick paper stock and roughly 100 pages, the magazines consists of fashion photography and original interviews with entrepreneurs, designers, artists and chefs. There is some Frank & Oak product placement throughout, but it feels more like a coffee table mainstay than a catalog.

The startup distributed 15,000 copies of the first installment and 40,000 of the second.
oak street

“It’s really a lifestyle and culture magazine,” said Song, of Frank & Oak’s magazine, Oak Street.
The magazine retails at $12 — it’s sold widely on newsstands in Canada, but Song said they plan to introduce it in the U.S. this year.

“We do generate revenue from the cost of the magazine. … It’s not very costly for us [to produce],” he said, declining to give further specifics about revenue. “We don’t see it as advertising. We see it as a product — an extension of the brand.”

Song, who has always been interested in film, said that from day one, he wanted storytelling to be a part of the business. Tellingly, one of the firms he cites as being a leader in this space is e-commerce fashion site Net-a-Porter, which also recently introduced a magazine.

“We couldn’t ignore a medium that was still important,” said Tess Macleod-Smith, vice president of publishing and media at Net-a-Porter Group.

In one year’s time, the glossy magazine has joined the likes of Vogue, Marie Claire and Glamour on newstands. Published six times a year, high-profile cover models have included Gisele Bundchen and Lady Gaga.
“Women who love fashion, who spend money on fashion, cited print as being the key influencer in purchasing decisions,” said Macleod-Smith. “We felt we needed to reinvigorate the model.”

Frank & Oak, too, is changing up the traditional model. The firm, which has raised $21 million in funding, diversifies its revenue streams as a way to expose a variety of customers to its brand.
Last year, the company launched a limited home goods line in partnership with Etsy (many of the products sold out). It also has a subscription-based service called the Hunt Club, a personal style adviser service called SELECT, and six storefronts in Canada.

Companies like Airbnb are also entering the world of print.
In November 2014, the firm announced its own magazine, Pineapple. Similar in its paper stock, beautiful images and editorial content, the magazine — which Airbnb plans to roll out quarterly — highlights three cities in each issue.
The focus is less about promoting the Airbnb brand and more about inspiring people to travel (which by extension would encourage them to use Airbnb).
Pineapple relies heavily on contributors but has an internal staff of about 14, including editors, designers and photographers.

example of pineapple print magazine

Airbnb’s magazine, Pineapple, focuses on three cities (Seoul featured here) in each issue.
It retails for $12, although the first issue was distributed mostly for free. The company declined to comment on sales.
According to Rebecca Lieb, analyst at Altimeter Group, sales aren’t the best factor to gauge impact.
“Objectives aren’t always, ‘How many units do I sell?’ she said. Magazines can also serve to reinforce the brand and generate new leads.

“You can create much more differentiation and expertise when you control your own content,” she added.


Out With the Old, In With the New

Let’s talk about rebranding and remarketing your business. As a consumer this could mean one of two things. This could mean that your company is not performing well and must make changes in order to accommodate for this or this could mean that your company is thriving and must make changes in order to accommodate for growth. It is imperative to analyze everything as if you were an outsider looking in.
Change is a scary thing in today’s business environment. It is perceived as a risky move. Change also brings thoughts of “how much is this going to cost me as a current client”, “how many service interruptions will I be encountering”, “Am I going to have to deal with new, less seasoned representatives”, etc. The ultimate concern is that the company will be increasing costs for subpar service. And this is the concern whether your company is rebranding because it is doing poorly or doing outstanding. With so many instances where I have personally been on the phone for literally hours trying to resolve issues I would gladly pay more for consistent and reliable service.
A business must honestly communicate what and why changes are being made and to emphasize that business strengths will be used and weaknesses will be fixed. If you make a promise to concerned hot leads, loyal clients or the media be sure to keep it. If you can’t keep it, don’t make it. There’s nothing that will send a customer or client packing more than a broken promise especially in the business environment today where most people have been burned by businesses making “promises” to them. And with the population so connected by social media, one broken promise can lead to a broken reputation and a broken business.
Of course your operations must be sound but you cannot forget about the surface appearance of your company during rebranding. Don’t forget about or skimp on appearances, it’s what gets you noticed.
• Your logo must be more attractive and subtly identify the reinvention of the company
• Your uniforms or business clothing must be more professional (or less, depending which direction your business is taking)
• Your stationary and physical marketing material must be higher in quality
• Social media outlets must have a more polished look (no crooked logos, posts must have more visual appeal)
• The company website must be revamped.
• The greeting when calls are answered must be more inviting
• If you have a physical location where customers or clients visit, this location must have new landscaping, paint, signs, etc.
• If you don’t have an 800 number, get one. Though 800 numbers really don’t mean much, as nearly every phone company offers free long distance and long distance calls are non-existent in the cell phone world, it still adds an amount of credibility to a business. (,
• If you don’t have a business address, get one. Renting a box from the UPS store or FedEx, rather than the USPS, allows for the use of their physical address so your business can receive any type of mail and have a more professional look.

Business Name Business Name
P.O. Box xxxxx VS 1234 Example Ave #567
City, State, ZIP City, State, ZIP

• If you don’t have a business email, get one. You might also need to change email hosts in order to accommodate for growth. (Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft 36 Small Business, Atmail Cloud, to name a few)

Thank you for…

Direct mail has always been thought of as a means to attract new customers.  Though direct mail campaign is an effective means to achieve this it is often perceived as a “one-note” type of marketing medium-sales and acquisition.

With so many options for consumers to choose from, there will be much more emphasis on customer retention than in previous years.  Direct mail is successful in achieving new blood but it is also successful in retaining your most loyal customers and even customers who may be contemplating leaving your company for your competitors.

Customers have always and will always want to be appreciated.  This will never change.  A simple “thank you” postcard after a purchase has been made, or randomly throughout the year, goes a long way. These don’t even have to be marketing materials with a sales pitch or a call to action but they should be pieces that are heavily branded.  Now that is not to say that this replaces a current direct mail campaign but it should be used in addition to the traditional direct mail sales campaign.  It may seem like a lot but the payoff justifies implementing a customer retention direct mail campaign.

DMA Direct Mail