We thought our business was all about magazines. How wrong we were. This erroneous focus almost cost us our company.
When we raised capital for mag nation, our pitch was focus focus focus. We would be the magazine experts. The category killers. A disruptive force in a static industry.
It turns out that we have become all these things, but focusing on it cost us big. Our focus on product (sounds like a smart thing to do), led us to ask the wrong questions. Who likes magazines? Everyone does – men, women, sports nuts, fashion queens, petrol heads, stamp collectors, IT nerds, entrepreneurial dreamers… everyone. So where is everyone? Before we knew it, we had stores in crowded shopping malls as well as high street strip locations. Nightmare.
We gradually realized that our focus should be on our customers. Why didn’t any of you hit us on the head earlier? We can’t be everything to everyone. So, we took a look at which of our customers love us, and which of them were indifferent, and unsurprisingly, the love wasn’t coming from the malls. We couldn’t identify a common gender or age group, but there was a common trait amongst those engaging with us. So we came up with a term called “urban savvy”. This group of people transcends age brackets and professions, but focuses on an outlook on life. These were the people who were spreading the love. These were the people who really got what we were trying to do.
So, we simply asked these good folks what they liked about us and what they wanted from us. Revelation! Amazing rocket science stuff. Talk to your customers and ask what they want. In doing this, many of our assumptions were shattered. I have been quoted in the press saying mag nation will never sell stationery and that we are only about magazines. Who has egg on his face now?
Our core customers told us they also love design books, beautiful stationery, and niche designer t-shirts. They told us that they enjoy the mag nation atmosphere. They like the quirkiness of the brand. They like it when we talk to them. They are often as passionate about a particular magazine as we are about the magazine category. We share a bond.
So, our focus is now on our core urban savvy customer. We still welcome everybody (mag nation was built to be inclusive), but our principle has always been focus focus focus. We were just focusing on the wrong thing.
Hopefully we now have the strategy right. We are engaging. We have conversations on Twitter. We are listening and learning from you. Keep talking to us. We need you.