A seasoned Executive Sales & Marketing Director with over 17 years of experience and management expertise in both the non-profit and private sector, Tonya McKenzie talked to us about Target Market Media Publications, specifically the L.A. Beach Cities Edition of Real Estate Agent Magazine.
Real Estate Agent Magazine is a B2B publication for and about the residential real estate industry in a given metro area. The magazine was first launched in Minneapolis, Minnesota – Real Estate Agent Magazine Twin Cities has flourished in the marketplace and became the publication’s flagship edition. Since launching, the magazine has come to a few different markets, including Treasure Valley, Idaho, Philadelphia, and LA.
Real Estate Agent Magazine is a magazine delivered free of charge to residential real estate agents and members of the local residential real estate community. Readers are presented with a local-focused magazine, highlighting top professionals in the area as well as columns authored by local experts on industry trends and concerns.
In addition, the magazine offers articles and sections on marketing tips and customer relations advice to help agents and brokers as they build and expand their career. As independent publishers, Target Market Media has no agenda in its magazines; instead, content is dictated by the local community of readers.
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What can you tell us about your early days in the publishing industry?
My first position was with Southland Publishing – a company that puts out various monthly and weekly publications in Southern California that goes all the way from San Diego to Ventura County. I worked mostly for The Argonaut which is a weekly west side LA newspaper, but I also did work for Life After Fifty magazine which is niched towards the active older adults and individuals that might be taking care of older adults.
I also did some work for Southern California Life Magazine which is a luxury Southern Californian magazine. Being a brand new publication, I got to see what the brand new looked like, how hard that can be, how many issues you actually had to give away and how much money that took.
I realized that niche marketing was something that I was relatively good at; also many of my clients that I would help with their advertising needed PR work, so an opportunity presented itself via Target Market Media to actually start my own publication: L.A. Beach Cities Edition.
What were some of your challenges when you started with your own publication?
Starting L.A. Beach Cities Edition helped me focus on not only the clients and their needs but advertisers and who they are targeting. The numbers can be very specific so tailoring and customizing the services to that crowd becomes a lot easier than if it was general.
With Real Estate Agent Magazine it’s still tricky because in the area that I’m in getting people to understand why marketing and branding are important is almost as difficult as selling ice to Eskimos because the homes in Southern California are such that the average is priced at $850,000. So, if you’re selling three $1million homes a year you’re really not thinking about, ‘I need to market myself, I need to brand myself’.
I had to become an educator as well as a salesperson to really show the importance of branding and being featured in a publication such as Real Estate Agent Magazine. That is what I did the first year.
The fun part for me is that it’s gone so well that Target Market Media has allowed me to start another publication which is a little more my speed and I love: Sports Administration Management & Executive Magazine (S.A.M.E.). In it, we pick the best stories, informative pieces and admired professionals in California to highlight, educate and celebrate the administrators, managers, and executives that make the decisions for those winning sports programs in California.
Both of these publications are really meant to educate, but the great thing about it is that the content can be repurposed as a marketing piece giving them a double-edged sword in being able to penetrate whatever market that they’re going after.
Can you share a few numbers in terms of print readership or website monthly traffic?
The great thing about a trade publication the way that we do it is that it’s very targeted and we have the same numbers in print every month. It’s 10,000 a month in print but we have a social database, an email list of over 100,000 and that grows.
In terms of mobile traffic, I would say it’s at 50% – the younger audience, of course, is more mobile oriented.
What do you think about print? Is it still a viable distribution channel for publishers?
The print is not dead! It’s not going away and I believe in print complementing digital and vice-versa. Keeping print alive and continuing to have high-quality print publications is the key, especially to traditional publishers.
People in the digital space might say, ‘what are you doing with that magazine or that newspaper?’ But at the end of the day, the newspapers are still around too and for the most part, they have the opportunity to control the image of their publication and that’s what they intend to do.
Can you share a campaign or activity that you’ve done in the past for any of your customers or for yourself that produced successful results?
HomeSuites is a temporary housing company that can be utilized by real estate agents that are helping to move their clients from the old house to the new house. My partnership with HomeSuites ended with basically a successful home purchase and transfer for one of my real estate agents that just happened to be featured in the publication because I was able to connect them.
Not only did this company get to advertise and start growing their business in Southern California but immediately thereafter was able to help an agent that helped a family move from one house to another in a very seamless manner.
They want to be a very good experience for the family, the agent, which I am sure will get a ton of referrals and now that company has become a staple in this real estate community. It is really about connecting and I think that’s what our media should be doing – any publication or any media outlet should really be about connecting the community to the information and business to each other.
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What would you recommend anybody that is looking to start their own publishing business today?
I would highly recommend that they do something that they have a passion for. If you’re going to be getting into publishing make sure that it is passion driven – because it’s hard, it’s a very difficult field.
It’s all about educating others, and if you are uneducated about it how are you going to educate someone else and if it doesn’t drive you, it’s not fun for you or it doesn’t move you, how can you convince other people of the significance of your subject?
I think, for me, the general and the wide publishing wasn’t good but that might be great for some people – they might feel like they like to dibble and dab in everything. I would really urge you to focus in, find a project that you’re passionate about, and make sure that it’s something that drives you because you are going to need everything in you to sell that idea, that image, that story to other people.