Masthead Blogs
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The April 13th 2015 issue of Maclean’s is a real grabber. With Easter upon us, they’ve timed this issue perfectly.

And by including other religions in the “new research,” they’ve successfully broadened the market appeal.  Heck, even atheists won’t be able to resist picking it up.

Look for this issue to see a big spike in sales.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The April 2015 issue of National Geographic is sure to be a big seller.

This photograph of the 16th President is iconic. This cover marks the tragic anniversary of his murder 150 years ago.  Lincoln is considered by many historians to be the greatest president of all time.  He won the Civil War, preserved the Union, and liberated a people who were enslaved.

Despite the election of our first black President (Obama), racial tensions in the USA are sadly still a simmering issue. This cover feature not only celebrates the legacy of Lincoln but places it in the context we find ourselves in today. A great read.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Greetings once again.

What’s a Target Group?

Sounds like a bunch of innocent people at the wrong end of a shooting gallery.

In truth it may seem we are taking shots- unfairly- at our audiences wherever they are, but therein is the dilemma – Exactly where are they?

Not too long ago, I heard someone describe their target group as anyone with a credit card. Goodness you’ll have a long and expense campaign reaching the estimated five billion credit card holders around the globe. If you can pull it off- more power too you.

Genuinely, very few products have such a global demand. And if they do, someone might already be harvesting all these consumers. Perhaps consider constructing your target group so you can better qualify their attributes and quantify how big a market they are.

One major Canadian client I worked with a number of years back suggested they wanted to be ‘National’.

A noble sentiment, if somewhat unattainable given the scope of their budget. But it was a starting platform and allowed us to have a ‘base’ audience from which we could refine our ideal target group.

A FYI (For Your Information) at this writing, the most recent Government of Canada Statistics* advise that the national population of Canada is an estimated 35,158,304. All persons, all ages- 35.1 Million.

*Note: Population as of July 1.
Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM II, table 051-0001. Last modified: 2013-11-22.

So how do you determine who you’re trying to reach?

I defined this as my Target Group Editing. This is an arena which your media team should be able to help you. Logically, and methodically, reducing that huge universe to a more manageable size.

Some of these steps you saw already in the Spike of Angels Media Briefing Template which you first downloaded when you signed up.  Let’s start by eliminating who we don’t want. If this can be done in bigger chunks, (Ie: we want to reach only men for this brand of Scotch product- this eliminates women and children), then you can more quickly trim your target to manageable sizes.

Some preliminary questions:
  • Are you targeting men or women? Both?
  • What age group are you trying to influence?
  • Is there a particular geography you need to cover - national, regional, provincial, local?
  • Do they have the income, personal or household to support buying your product?
  • Are they living in major urban centres or rural areas?
  • Do you have an idea of their media habits?
    Ie: typically which media in their geography are they most exposed to ?
A sample target group follows. For this client, we wanted to reach the most appropriate audience who would be interested in purchasing a computer printer.

Sample Target Audience: For Computer Printers (circa 1999). From our 31 Million Canadians at that time, we edited our universe as follows:

Our primary candidate audience is defined as: A well educated male, living in a major urban centre, who enjoys an above average income, and currently has a home computer.

Here’s how we got there: This profile was created from our earlier research via PMB (Print Measurement Bureau) and NADBank which confirms the profile of the primary users of printers are:

  • Age/Sex: Predominantly, but not exclusively male, aged 25-54. 60% of Canadian adults 18+ are between ages of 25-54, yet they account for 85.4% of Business. Computer Customers (PMB 1997).
  • Education: University graduates account for less than 1/5th of all households, but they account for almost 1/3rd of computer ownership. 50% of home computer purchasers attended University, versus 36% of adult population.
  • Own personal computer: according to the Radio Marketing Bureau & Statistics Canada 31.6% or almost 4 Million Canadian homes had a computer at the end of 1996. That is triple the penetration from only a decade earlier(10.3% in 1986). Current figures show it having crested 40%
  • Have Home Office: and they also may operate small business from home.
  • Enjoy mid to High Household Income: 20% of the households with higher incomes were four times more likely to have a computer than those with incomes in the lowest 20%. 41.3% of Adults 18+ report incomes in excess of $50,000 but they account for 72.4% of Business Computer Customers
  • Live in major urban centres: 39.4% live in community sizes of 1 million +, with the following top five ranking of: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa/Hull, Edmonton and Calgary.
Narrowing the Field

The preceding few pages will demonstrate that asking and answering some realistic questions about the target group can help you focus on delivering a campaign with more efficiency, impact and memorability.

In constructing our media recommendation, we knew our primary Target Group should be:

Men aged 25-54, who were university graduates who had incomes in excess of $50,000 and they lived in major urban centres, predominantly in the top five markets noted above.

This streamlined our original 31 million candidates substantially, and allowed us to select media which best reached them within our budget.

PLUS: All of this media refinement allowed our creative to work harder because we reached our candidate purchaser more strategically, and funds were not wasted on irrelevant media.

As in all media, online or offline, you do not have to ‘buy more’ to reach your customers, you just have to buy smarter.

Stay tuned.

Dennis Kelly

"Like to learn more? Nine Secrets of How To Improve Your Advertising and How To Actually Make Your Ads Outperform Your Competition  is not for everyone.  It’s for smart marketers who want proven tips to make their ads work harder and smarter.

Is that YOU?
If it is, click here for your copy of, "9 Secrets To Improve Your Advertising"

Do It Now. As a Masthead Online Reader, you can order your own copy for just $30, but only until you reach Media Spike #57.  After that, the price returns to $197.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Welcome—Did I ask you this already?

What did we get for it?

We spent all this money and what did we get for it?

So went the controlled rant of one client in the past 24 hours as we were reviewing last year’s activities.

This is a modest but consistent client for us and one of my colleagues last year encouraged more social media during our last 12 month campaign.

Not necessarily a component I would have pushed so aggressively, but it was part of the schedule nonetheless. Until the day of reckoning—yesterday—when the client asked, ‘We spent $24,000 on social media’ and what did we get?’

No appreciable or measurable increase in traffic to our site, or to our health clinic. We were ‘Liked’ apparently 20 to 30 times, but no like ever translated to someone walking in our door. There was no increase in the call to action on the website or 1-800# to schedule an appointment.

So what did we get for it?

Tough to answer when the media can’t defend itself and lip service of saying it’s raising awareness pales in the wake of Not Raising Sales.

To his credit, my digital colleague did tapdance to express that it was contributor to the overall effect of the campaign and it reached a new audience. Very true. But new or incumbent, if they ain’t buying, it doesn’t matter who likes you.

Happily, our newspaper banner ads, and magazine 1/3rd page ads pulled the trigger on sales more than any other media and the spikes in business were readily identifiable to when print media appeared.

We spoke to social media briefly in Media Spike #35, and again we do not want to trample this format but believe it needs to be used differently to deliver a desired return.

My clients’ $24,000 disappeared into the ether of online without a trace, and without a glimmer of return on investment.  But they are the lucky ones as I’m certain many clients have invested substantially more dollars to come away with the same perplexed feeling.

What did we get for our money?

Dear reader, you may remember that through this series, I have touched on, I think just about all forms of media, to varying degrees.

I believe they all need to continue to be a part of the fabric of communication. Newspaper, and radio, online and television, outdoor and magazines, and subsets of all of these are just more tools in our efforts to communicate.

However as more advertisers are becoming more market savvy, the demand for ROI is more and more critical.  If you can’t find a way to measure it, don’t use it.

Stay tuned.

Dennis Kelly

"Like to learn more? Nine Secrets of How To Improve Your Advertising and How To Actually Make Your Ads Outperform Your Competition  is not for everyone.  It’s for smart marketers who want proven tips to make their ads work harder and smarter.

Is that YOU?
If it is, click here for your copy of, "9 Secrets To Improve Your Advertising"

Do It Now. As a Masthead Online Reader, you can order your own copy for just $30, but only until you reach Media Spike #57.  After that, the price returns to $197.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The April/May 2015 issue of Canadian Cycling sports its annual Buyers Guide on the cover.

This year’s edition features a simple colour scheme using a vibrant blue backdrop, white drop out, and red and black to draw the eye to some of the key selling benefits.

The approach is “less is more.”

The issue is 124 pages thick and perfect bound.

The Art Director is Warren Wheeler.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Jaclyn Law
Many new and aspiring writers don’t know that there are three categories of magazines: consumer, trade and custom. That means more publications and editors in need of contributors—great! But how do you get started? Let’s look at the different types:

Consumer: These are the magazines already on your radar. They’re the glossy titles that fill newsstands and pile up in doctors’ waiting rooms. You’ll find subcategories like health, women’s, men’s, sports, tech, personal finance, decor (or shelter, in industry-speak), etc. Major publishing companies own several consumer magazines across subcategories. For example, Rogers Media publishes Chatelaine, Flare, Maclean’s, Hello! Canada, MoneySense, Sportsnet and other titles. There are many smaller publishers out there too, with anywhere from one magazine to a dozen. Pay rates range accordingly, from as low as 10 cents a word to $1 a word or more. Check out my tips for pitching consumer mags.

Trade: These magazines serve a profession or an association (in the U.S., they’re often called “association magazines” or “organization magazines”). Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at the breadth—there are magazines for teachers, veterinary technicians, contractors, hair stylists, accountants, café owners, graphic designers…you get the idea. These publications are rich hunting grounds for writers, especially those with expertise in a certain field. The tricky part is getting your hands on them, since they aren’t available on newsstands. Google, your circle of friends and your city’s library system are good places to get started. Canada’s major media companies publish trade mags in addition to their consumer titles, and there are companies that specialize in trade. Pay rates vary depending on the size of the publisher, and in my experience they’re on par with consumer magazine rates.

Custom: These publications are marketing tools for major brands—retailers, airlines, car makers, universities, etc. They have the look and feel of consumer magazines, and the articles are often general-interest pieces that don’t mention the brand at all. The editorial process is similar to that of consumer and trade mags, except there’s an added layer of approvals from your client’s client, and custom work is generally work for hire, i.e., the magazine buys all rights associated with the articles (though this is increasingly true for other mags, too). Custom mags are both easy and difficult to find. You probably receive some already, and you can find them at some major retailers. Others are only available to a brand’s customers. Several of Canada’s major media companies have a custom division, while other publishers do custom and nothing else. I’ve found the pay rates in this category a bit better on the lower end, starting from 50 cents a word up to $1 a word.

No matter which category you’re targeting, the same tips apply: do your research, pitch short pieces (say, for the front or back of the book) and build a relationship with an editor, working your way up to longer features. It’s not impossible for a new writer to break into a big magazine, but it’s a good idea to set your sights wider, especially while you’re building up your portfolio and improving your craft. The same caveats apply, too: read your contract and understand what you’re agreeing to.

Do you have tips on working with trade or custom magazines?
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly
Hello and welcome.

Why Advertise?

Genuinely? Why are you advertising.  Shouldn’t it be like actor Kevin Costner’s classic movie ‘Field of Dreams’ in which the voice says, ‘If You Build It, They Will Come!

The sad reality is just putting a glitzy, or sexy or pretty ad out there doesn’t turn the cash register. Your ads have to give the customer something they need to relieve pain or something that gives them pleasure.

With the possible exception of your inventory and your payroll, advertising is often many company’s largest investment. It costs so much…doesn’t it?

Interesting Dilemma!!  If it doesn’t work, it’s an expense, and why did we waste so much money?  If it works and delivers sales and referrals and more business, it’s an investment, and you get promoted!

So why do we do it?

Before we share our thoughts on this, let me ask you something. What do your neighbours do for ‘work’?  When they go off on their commute each day to the office or factory or wherever, what are they doing?

Do you know?
Maybe they’re in marketing too. Perhaps computer professionals.

Maybe accountants and financial managers. Could be some of them specialize in recreation management, while others are professional chefs and caterers.

You’re all living in the same neighbourhood and with some variations, you’re all in roughly the same income bracket. But if you are making $61K per year for instance and you know what you’re doing, what does your neighbour do that allows them to live in the same neighbourhood as you.

Most of us don’t wear our occupations on our sleeves so you’ll usually never know unless the work clothes –ie; uniform, are a giveaway.

So it’s possible, no indeed probable, that someone who can solve your tax planning, fix your plumbing, do your daughter’s dance lessons, is on the same bus or train with you and you don’t know it.

Trouble is, that’s the way too many businesses operate.

They don’t tell the community – local- national- International- what it is they do and they wonder why no-one buys from them.

As you’ve gathered by now, my role is a media planner and buyer and negotiator and strategist and as readers who have been with me this far along, you’re seeing my style day after day. So far about an eight week interview.

So rather than pick blindly out of a newspaper or online promotion, you get to learn first hand my style. Demonstration day by day, a slow drip approach, builds a lot more comfort and confidence than thrusting myself at you with an IN YOUR FACE presence. And this is what your advertising needs to do.

It needs to tell others what you do and why they should hire you or buy your product or service.

Your advertising is your lifeblood of your business. Don’t ever cut the jugular because this is where your business is coming from.

So back to our opening question. Why Do You Advertise?  Well...

Here’s Why to Advertise!

  • It creates store traffic: The more people who come into your store (or know about your business) the more opportunities you have to make sales.
  • It attracts new customers: Your market is always changing and evolving and regular advertising keeps up with them until their lifestyle meets your product.
  • It encourages repeat business: Due to endless shopping options, now you need to work harder to build and retain loyalty.
  • It generates continuous business: Even slow days can produce sales. You have overhead to meet and new people to reach.
  • It is an investment in success: By keeping your message fresh in your consumers mind, you’ll be the natural choice when it’s time to buy.
  • It keeps you competitive:  There are only so many customers in the market ready to buy at any one time. You have to maintain a steady presence so your regular customers (and prospective ones) know you’re still there or you’ll lose to more aggressive competitors.
  • It projects a successful image: Advertising tells customers and competitors that your doors are open and you are ready for business.
  • Advertising doesn’t pays!!

Stay tuned.

Dennis Kelly

"Like to learn more? Nine Secrets of How To Improve Your Advertising and How To Actually Make Your Ads Outperform Your Competition  is not for everyone.  It’s for smart marketers who want proven tips to make their ads work harder and smarter.

Is that YOU?
If it is, click here for your copy of, "9 Secrets To Improve Your Advertising"

Do It Now. As a Masthead Online Reader, you can order your own copy for just $30, but only until you reach Media Spike #57.  After that, the price returns to $197. 
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
Zoomer magazine, winners of 2 awards at the Canadian Cover Awards, has just released its new covers for the April 2015 issue.  One cover is for subscribers, and is a bit playful, while the cover for newsstands, cranks up the heat.

As noted by Zoomer magazines’s editor-in-chief Suzanne Boyd:

“This issue marks our third themed one covering that three-letter word.  It’s a big word that can mean so much and so many different things to people of various ages, genders and preferences, that we decided to celebrate it with two cover treatments. We approach the topic head to toe, inside and out with perspectives on what boomer men and women want and don’t want between the sheets.”


Thursday, March 12, 2015
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
I am amazed at all the childish behaviour of social media companies. It seems that the rules of good conduct does not apply to this supposedly superior medium versus traditional media.

I beg to differ, as I believe that social media is like that child that never grows up and acts like a spoiled little brat, but nobody has the guts to discipline them, as they will cry child abuse, well I do!

The recent social media scandals include a professional hockey player’s wife, who is demeaned on a micro-blogging site and then the defamatory quote is broadcast on a national TV sports station, and only through a threat to sue was any action made to ensure that the person’s reputation remained intact.

Then there is the sex scandal at a university, where a bunch of students started a social media group that demeaned women. What is a person to do to protect their loved ones from this online behaviour?

If these acts were done by a traditional media brand by one of their journalists there would be more of an uproar than what you have seen with these two scandals. They would be out of business and every politician in the world would be demanding justice, plus plenty of lawsuits.

This illustrates the double standard with social media, they claim to be media, but are not responsible for the content that they distribute. I believe that they should be held liable, as they should be treated like a traditional media publisher. Like the boy that cried wolf, they cry “Freedom of Speech,” as their calling card.

This issue is going through the courts and a precedent has been set based on the case of Baglow vs. Smith that is chronicled on the Canadian Tech Law Blog published by McCarthy Tétrault LLP, one of the top legal firms in Canada. Roland Hung wrote a posting titled “Defamation in the Blogosphere.”

The plaintiff in this case is Dr. Baglow, the owner and operator of an Internet blog site known as “Dawg’s Blawg” that posts left wing opinions and commentary on political and public interest issues. The defendants, Mark and Connie Fournier, moderate a message board on the internet called “Free Dominion,” a venue for the expression of conservative views.

On August 10, 2010 Roger Smith (the other defendant) posted a comment on this message board under the pseudonym Peter O’ Donnell that referred to the plaintiff, Dr. Baglow, as a supporter of the Taliban, a terrorist organization. Dr. Baglow objected to this comment as being defamatory and requested the Foruniers remove it from Free Dominion, which they refused to do.

Initially, the defendants won the first round based on their legal defense of “Fair Comment.” This was appealed and a judge ruled for a new trial. The key point of law in the case is, do the same rules apply to the Internet as they apply to traditional media.  

The defendants argued that their message board cannot be considered a publisher and the technology used was a neutral platform and the lawsuit was an unconstitutional violation of the guarantee of freedom of expression. They claimed they were not liable for the postings of hundreds of people on their site. Simply put, they claimed that as a provider of an interactive computer service they should not be liable for user-generated content from third parties.

Madame Justice Polowin disagreed with the Foruniers that a message board or forum is set up to provide content to their reader and both defendants the publisher and writer is jointly liable for defamation.

While the decision was favourable to the plaintiff, the courts are not clear how this will apply to social media, where at least hundreds of thousands of comments are posted each day and if the moderators are responsible for these. In other words new law is being created to address the issue, if social media should be treated like any distributor of content and be treated like a traditional publisher. In my opinion the answer is yes.

While defamation is a civil matter there are criminal acts being done on social media that should get swifter action by the courts as the police can charge somebody versus waiting for somebody to sue. The use of social media to recruit terrorists must be considered a hate crime as it supports the elimination of another race based on their religious views.  

Social media micro blogging sites are also a place where terrorist propaganda is broadcast to the world and must be stopped. Again, social media will cry ” Freedom of Speech” or “Censorship” as their wolf cry, as they are not liable for what people post on their site even though it is a hate crime.

I had a chat with a retired division commander of the Toronto Police, Paul Gottschalk, who was in charge of the cyber crime division and this is what he had to say on this issue.

In my view the argument can be made that in defence of offensive statements, those making the statements have equitable access to protection under the right to “freedom of speech.” Eventually any statement made or view expressed in social media will assume the same status as those in print or speech. Only through the application of law will these statements be deemed both offensive and libelous or within the realm of reasonableness. At present the law has not been clearly defined. While I believe that both criminal and civil transgressions should be viewed and responded to as if the grievance had been printed or spoken, the law has the difficult task to determine at which point in the conveyance of the message should the force of law apply.

Who is more culpable, the speaker or the messenger? In short, the law and social mores (which both constantly evolve) have not caught up to technology but I believe that eventually the cry of “wolf” will lose its strength. This argument of “freedom of speech” reminds me of another cry for freedom. A man in Texas was charged with punching another man in the face while both were walking along the street. The accused offered as defence that he was walking along the street swinging his arms like the blades on a helicopter. And he argued this was his right to do so! He said it was the victim’s fault for walking into his fist. The presiding judge stated the accused was correct in that he had the right to swing his arms freely but his right to swing his fist ended at the end of the victim’s nose! Likewise, I believe the law will soon rule that a persons right to “swing” their views will end when it strikes another person’s well being.

The social media companies’ inaction suggests that they support the promotion of defamation and hate crimes and in my opinion they are the distributor of that content and they should be held liable. This is called implied consent in legal terms, where your inaction suggests that you agree or what we call in the marketing world negative option marketing.

So if you have a social media account with one of these companies you are also supporting the company’s defamatory and criminal actions through implied consent too. So if you agree with this logic I would suggest you deactivate your account immediately unless you want to be associated with liars, cheaters and terrorists through implied consent.

Brian Burke the President of the Calgary Flames hockey club has courageously tried to stop this nonsense and started a court action to help protect him and his family from such attacks; you can see details of his case at this link.

To get political action on this issue please share this blog with the next hypocritical politician in the upcoming federal election when they reach out to you on social media and ask them if they support terrorism, defamation or hate crimes on social media as they try to get your vote.

BTW, the social media companies have already sold all your personal info through a big data personalized marketing program to the political parties without your consent as part of their election planning. Its time we take action against this and as a concerned parent, I want to protect our children now, as governments seem not to care because of the kid who cried wolf.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA) has released the winning magazines for the Best Cover Award.

The Showcase Gold and Silver winners were announced and celebrated at the Alberta Magazine Awards Gala on March 5th.

Visit the website for more information.

(Full Disclosure: I was one of 3 judges)

The Gold Award went to:

Western Living September – Paul Roelofs, art director; Evaan Kheraj portrait photographer

The Silver Award went to:

Up!Magazine The Food Guide – Theresa Johnston art director, Erin Burns photographer, Pierre Lamielle food stylist


Firings, hirings, imminent closures, new launches, fallings-out, alliances—provide the lead in the space below and we’ll get to the bottom of it. While discretion is assured, our Tipline is anonymous.