"Every quarter, even in the dead of winter, I wait by the mailbox for the magazine to arrive.”
This was the start of a letter thinkMoney publisher Kevin Lund got from a reader. The kind of note publishers live for. Lund is the CEO of T3 Custom (yup, one of my partners). For seven years, Lund's flagship magazine has led content-marketing efforts for TD Ameritrade. Results? Despite the current digital frenzy, thinkMoney remains one of the most successful financial pubs out there. Sent to the majority of TD Ameritrade's active traders, it's the largest print trading magazine of its kind and has won countless awards, including top honors with major content orgs like the Content Marketing Institute.
Learning still rocks
I've always admired Lund's spin on magazines—what he calls "lean-back" media.
"The Internet is a problem-solving utility and we go there to get answers. Directions, phone numbers, definitions. We get in. We get out," he said. "In the main we don't explore beyond that. But we read magazines to discover questions we didn’t even know we had."
Lund loves the heft and pace of technology. But he swoons over the slowness of real reading, the quality of the engagement, how we absorb and learn. "The print world complements our knowledge base and creates incremental interest," he suggested. "Magazines introduce readers to new ideas. Aspirational ideas. If someone wants a definition of MACD, they Google it. But someone may not know, before reading an article on covered calls, that you can make money in the market even when the market doesn't move."
Cashing in on relevant
With all the talk of "relevant" content, thinkMoney has nailed it, remaining truly sensitive to the content needs of new and veteran traders alike. The mag is gender-and-age neutral, hip, fresh, irreverent, and ahead of the curve in look and feel. (Financial brands still embracing stodgy and conservative take heed.)
Clearly TD Ameritrade's not just an online broker. The brand has a tight content-marketing strategy, and has given Lund tremendous leeway to create content vehicles that take happy traders offline on a regular basis. Readers hole up with the magazine on weekends and actually tell their families not to bug them during "quiet time." For hard-charging traders that's something.
Research has shown readers of Lund's magazines on average spend more than 30 minutes with a given issue. By contrast, online readers give roughly 2 minutes to a random article—a very different eye-ball spend. How can a web reader absorb, say, 1400 words in a skim-fest?
Heart to heart
Brands more than ever want devoted audiences. The world is awash in data and just behind a client's attention, a client's loyalty is premium currency. Lund feels the ease of online data makes readers fickle. "Once we close a browser we show very little loyalty to where the information came from. We don't care, really. With rare exception, any link will do."
"Despite a lot of corp bashing these days, I believe folks want to connect with brands in a meaningful way," Lund added. "If a brand helps this along with authentic content that engages audiences more slowly, more power to them."
For him, thinkMoney is a genuine relationship builder. "What does an innocent snow-covered mailbox in front of your house have over the Internet?" he asked. "Zero clutter. It has at most 3 things in it that matter. And one of those things might be a magazine you can't wait to read and whose advice you just might retain."
Explore thinkMoney here: https://tickertape.tdameritrade.com/trading/thinkmoney.
Eileen Sutton is the principal of Sutton Creative. She can be reached at: http://www.suttoncreative.com/