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Jeff Ely, economics professor at Northwestern University and contributor to the Cheap Talk blog, recently wrote a great article about titles, or names. His examples focus on bank names, and how they engender trust, and the names of legal documents, which could perhaps be simply skimmed to get a sense of utility or relevance. But the article is an interesting reminder and idea spark, for researchers and marketers.
There are varying degrees of scope and sophistication in our wildly different projects and initiatives. Our work is passed to our clients, to internal teams, to executive management, to various partners and outside parties. The names of studies, reports, presentations, tools used in the process, task force teams, strategic plans, products in development, etc. do matter.
Names should be clear and communicative – presenting the topic but also the considering the audience. Names should not be overly technical or detailed. Names should be intuitive, parsimonious, and should be readable (and intelligible) “out loud.” But names should also hold up over time, regardless of how related issues change or evolve. Future researchers should be able to refer back to your work, referencing a name that still communicates something to them. It’s somewhat a lofty challenge, if you think about the implication of the choice of title. The goal is to strike a balance between communication and brevity – if the name simply “fits” in these terms, it will likely carry and communicate as desire.
Interesting little infographic from Newsweek about the differences between books and e-books.
After nearly 70 years, publisher Condé Nast abruptly stopped production of the monthly magazine due to lack of advertising sales and a shift in consumer interest. At the time of Condé Nast’s decision, both Gourmet and its sister magazine, Bon Appétit, were struggling with ad sales. Bon Appétit made the cut. Gourmet didn’t. Bon Appétit was offered as a substitute for Gourmet for the remainder of almost one million subscriptions.
Since then a slight margin (a slim 20 percent to be exact) of past Gourmet subscribers have chosen to switch to Bon Appétit. This seems odd for such highly dedicated and long-term subscribers. The lack of transferred subscriptions poses a hard question. Why did Condé Nast choose not to research the niche market of such an obviously successful magazine like Gourmet in order to keep those dedicated subscribers?
On the cover, the magazines look similar. Both share great recipes. Both feature articles about food, culture, and politics. However, the audiences of each magazine differ greatly. This is evidenced through both magazines advertisements as well as their contrasting takes on good living. Gourmet was luxurious and indulgent. It stressed extravagant travel and an elitist lifestyle. Bon Appétit stresses a comfortable home life, centering on family cooking. It offered complex, yet more accessible recipes.
While many Gourmet readers feel heartbroken about no longer receiving the magazine each month, Condé Nast’s decision makes good sense, especially when considering the economic forecast that sunk Gourmet. Foodies aren’t paying for exotic trips to experience food anymore. They’re cooking at home with their families, growing their own gardens, or buying local food. Despite a large fan base, Gourmet’s attention to life’s luxuries and hefty subscription fees failed to keep advertisers interested. In the case of Gourmet and many other magazines, ad money trumps readership and loyalty.
But after loosing 800,000 subscribers, it seems that Condé Nast missed a really great chance to study their Gourmet readers. The magazine may have been out-of-touch with the current economic reality, but its subscribers were still writing checks every year. If Condé Nast saw the end of Gourmet magazine in sight, why not find out what it was that appealed to readers and kept some subscribing for decades. That sort of insight would have been exactly what Condé Nast could have used to align Bon Appétit toward the views and preferences of Gourmet’s readers in order to boost the number of subscription transfers and keep those loyal consumers.
Kudos to The Awl for two fairly recent charts featuring publishing statistics from the past decade. The images are too tall to just recopy in a single post here, but click through to check them out. This trend data, sourced from the Magazine Publishers of America and Audit Bureau of Circulations, respectively, is very interesting, but I’m particularly fond of how they’ve crafted the charts – in a tall, blog-friendly format rather than on a standard wide frame: