Wednesday, September 8

Keeping House: How Good Housekeeping Connects

Good Housekeeping, the iconic women's service monthly originally founded in 1885, is looking for the next step in creating connections with consumers. According to Mediaweek, the magazine is transforming a 2,000- square-foot space at the Mall of America into an American home.

The home won't be static. It will include activities that include cooking demos, DYI projects, and design consultations by celebrity chefs, local personalities and experts from the Research Institute. With more than 100,000 people visiting Mall of America every day (on average), the concept could pay off, assuming Good Housekeeping can keep consumers it touches at the mall.

Touching Customers Beyond The Printed Page.

If there is an evolution for publications, especially niche publications like Good Housekeeping, it could very well be high touch. In order to relate to consumers and build connections, the magazine needs to redefine what makes it a relevant connection between brands and customers. Using its Research Institute as the reason, Good Housekeeping hopes to provide expert advice to build loyalty.

In recent years, social media has provided a platform that convinced many consumers to move away from publications, preferring advice from friends or people they like online. When not seeking advice from each other, it's easy enough to connect direct to companies for incentives and insights from inside sources. Publications helped pushed them away by insisting on an elitist position. The economic climate didn't help either. Subscriptions and monthly costs are often the first to be cut from budgets.

However, if Good Housekeeping can introduce itself by coordinating offline activities and then keep consumers engaged via social media, then there is a potential for success. Specifically, Good Housekeeping could transform itself into a destination.

What's Missing From The Marketing Mix?

The Mall of America is a good first step. However, Good Housekeeping only has a marginal social media presence (it doesn't even list its social media assets on its front page). Most of the communication consists of plugging articles, even those that are framed as questions. They are not questions as much as as cutlines. The dialogue between the publication and followers is limited.

Despite this, some of its online connections are readily engaged. On Facebook, most plugs average about six responses. It's a good start from the 6,500 or so people who follow along.

With the addition of the physical presence, Good Housekeeping has an opportunity to use the instructional workshops and celebrity visits as an introduction to its online platforms. Once people connect, it can engage them over the long term, even if the intent of the American home is to become mobile. There are plenty of other crossover media opportunities too, including the potential to film and share onsite demonstrations.

Much like Citizen Gulf or publishers and bookstores hosting author signings, the real future of communication points to online marketing that drives consumers to proximity-based events, demonstrations, and high touch opportunities that can be later shared as fresh content.

It's not all that dissimilar to what social media speakers already do. Speaking drives traffic, which can then be converted into sales (books, services, etc.). At the same time, the increased following then makes the speaker more attractive to the next host.

It's not rocket science. It's strategic. And if this is the direction Good Housekeeping goes, then it should be no surprise why Hearst Magazines has successfully adapted to changes in the marketplace with Good Housekeeping for almost 100 years. About the only thing it hasn't done is become more cross-gender friendly. However, looking at online followers, maybe it has.
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