Custom Publishing is a growing area of corporate communications in many European countries.
– Custom publication is a tool to nurture the relationship between a company and its customer. It contains company related information tailored into customer friendly mode, defines the Director of Sanoma Magazine Finland's Custom Publishing Unit, Leena Jaakkola.
The magazine division of the SanomaWSOY Group, Sanoma Magazines, makes custom publications in six countries: Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Russia, and the Czech Republic. The ways of doing and the trends in custom publishing were on the scope in seminar organised by Sanoma Magazines Finland in September.
Sanoma Magazines Finland has been in custom publishing business since 1980 – it is the company with the longest experience of the field in Finland. – We produce some 40 publications to our 20 customer companies in more than 10 languages. The increasingly international environment of our customers sets challenges for us: we need to serve our customers in different markets and take into account various cultural backgrounds, Jaakkola describes.
The growing markets attract new players
The five-year-old custom publishing unit in Sanoma Uitgevers makes different kinds of magazines, intranet portals, newsletters, and intranet sites for its customers. – In our point of view, we make not just magazines but take a more holistic perspective to communications between a company and its customer, says Lonneke Jagersma, Client Service Manager from Sanoma Uitgevers.
– According to recently made survey, Sanoma Uitgevers is well-known player among the 250 custom publishing makers in the Netherlands even though our market share is rather small, Jagersma continues.
– The Dutch custom publishing market grows some 15% yearly. It is clear that now also the big European media companies are interested in getting their share. This also means that the competition is getting thougher, Jagersma describes.
According to the Dutch survey, the readers spend some 25 minutes with each issue of custom publication when TV adds and newspaper advertisements are passed by in only a couple seconds.
– In order to keep the reader with the publication, the makers have to find the right balance between information and entertainment, says Sofie Brutsaert from Sanoma Magazines Belgium's custom publishing unit, Squills.
The market for the custom publications is new in Belgium, Squills started its operations in 2003.
Also in Hungary, the custom publishing market is rather young, but according to Akos Kricsfalussyn from Sanoma Budapest, the custom publications are an important off-line media.
– The market is growing fast and at the same time the requirements for more entertaining content are growing, says Kricsfalussy. – Readers want to entertain themselves with custom publications which set us as the publication makers' new requirements e.g. in organising the content and finding the right kind of pictures.
The pictures as well as other layout issues of the publication play a key role in Russia, where trend is to be as glossy as possible. The custom publishing market in Russia is growing some 15% to 20% yearly. Most of the publications are published by the international companies but also the Russian ones have a strong tradition in making company magazines.
– In the Czech Republic almost every top-100 company has its own publication, says Filip Postulka from Sanoma Magazines Praque. – In recent years, the tightening competition has also increased the quality of their publications, he continues with satisfaction.
– Custom publishing is always a question of trust between the publisher company and its customer, says Leena Jaakkola.
– Even though the custom publishing is always marketing communications to some extent, the readers cannot be mislead by mixing advertisements and journalistic content together, Sofie Brutsaert and Leena Jaakkola emphasise.
– The readers spend time with custom publication when they feel that the content is tailored just for them and it offers right proportion of information and entertainment. A successful custom publication is company's gift for its customers that is also valued, Jaakkola concludes.
Text: Tiina Tuomainen