On March 1 of this year, Civil + Structural Engineer sent out an email to our publication readers, as well as a publishers note inside the publication, informing them that what they were holding would be the last print issue of Civil + Structural Engineer.
That was tough.
Even though our media department and an outside advisory board had met and discussed it for months leading up, we still had a little fear and hesitation pulling the final trigger. My personal desire was to jump off the page and one by one, sit down with each reader and explain why we made the decision and what the benefits would be to them. I like to look people in the eyes and explain things. Possibly over explain. With a lot of hand movements, flying about. Guilty. I tend to get long winded, too. (did you read my last blog post? Oops)
We retired our print publication, making March the last print issue our readers would receive.
We had to say goodbye to our print vendor we’ve used for 10+ years, restructure our internal team a bit and have some difficult conversations with our advertisers.
That was really tough.
For more than 10 years, we’ve watched print magazines hold less and less value to its end consumer. Everything has their few exceptions, but overall, with the popularity and advertiser preference of digital reach, it’s become even more obsolete across all industries.
Overall, we were met with little pushback from advertisers and readers. I do recall one conversation with an advertiser. His words exactly, “Well, this is just sincerely concerning because it tells me that your media platform as a whole is really on the decline.”
Ouch, that was tough to hear.
With my hypothetical objection script I had curated for an instance like this, I got ready for my defensive response. Telling him what the trends said, how the data pointed in our favor and, and, and…
But I thought for a minute. This man is an equally respected media buyer expert. He’s been in the industry for over 15 years, giving him about a 13 year head start on me. He has seen the trends, the numbers and have had conversations with his peers, probably multiple, probably even very recent. I’d literally be a fool to assume I’m sharing any new information with him.
So instead of my pushback, I paused and when I continued, I said, “Mr ‘x’, I understand. We have made it a point to not look back, but to look forward. I’m asking you to trust me with your brand and let me do what I do best. Getting it in front of the right audience.”
He bought a digital magazine ad and case study hosting. Nothing grand, but a good door stop. I’ll win his business back through results, not by ‘educating’ him.
We’re not trailblazers in the industry. We weren’t the firsts to retire our print, nor will we be the last. We did do our research, and did it thoroughly. We spent hours pouring over reports, seeking advice and at the end of the day, taking a leap of faith. This move reflects Civil + Structural initiatives as well as our operating company, Zweig Group, and that is to ELEVATE the industry.
We continue, as we have for the past 15 years, to publish the magazine in its entirety online.
Making bold moves like we’ve done can guarantee some ruffled feathers and unease, especially from those investing in your product. It’s a fact, it will happen. In some cases, you’ll lose supporters, you’ll get questions and concerns from the outside, believers will turn to doubters.
There’s no short answer on how to mitigate these obstacles, rather welcome them and learn.
We can’t speak for everyone else, but we know where our future is and it’s ahead, in the digital space. I have a hunch we’ll be seeing you there soon, too.