Data excerpted from the Association of Magazine Media resources.

Data excerpted from the Association of Magazine Media resources.

It’s no secret that traditional media outlets are struggling to recalibrate their business models to fit today’s digital economy, and many are struggling. On the other hand, there are some publications that are logging impressive growth, and I’m a big believer in following the money. How have these publications managed to deliver strong growth in such tough times? It turns out they have a common secret sauce: niche content.

I took a look at data from the Association of Magazine Media that compared paid and verified magazine circulation for 2012 and 2011, and I spotted some common attributes that offer important lessons to communicators crafting communications and planning campaigns.

Demographics: Five of the top fifteen high-growth magazines are lifestyle magazines catering to Hispanic audiences. One can’t ignore this potent market signal – there is real demand for content tailored for American Hispanics. If you represent a consumer brand, and your organization hasn’t developed a strategy for communicating with the Hispanic marketplace, a fantastic opportunity is being left on the table.

Niche focus: Urban Farm. Bowhunt America. Haggerty Classic Cars. Woodcraft Magazine. These are some of the top-performing titles, and they are tightly-focused publications. It’s not enough to simply create content for hunters, for example. There are big differences in hunting waterfowl, upland fowl and deer. General content for “hunters” wouldn’t resonate deeply within these niches. As the top performing magazines show us, there is opportunity for content that is an inch wide and a mile deep.

More than 200,000 people have liked Eating Well's Facebook page, and it's a lively and active social presence that attracts new audience continually.

More than 200,000 people have liked Eating Well’s Facebook page, and it’s a lively and active social presence that attracts new audience continually.

Multiple platforms: Top performer Eating Well, which logged circulation growth of almost 60% year on year, is much more than a magazine. It’s a multi-channel juggernaut, with lively and engaged social presences and assets that parent company Meredith Corp. describes as:

  • A highly successful and award-winning bi-monthly magazine with a circulation of almost 590,000;
  • A content-rich website featuring healthy recipes, cooking how-to, meal plans and shopping tips, as well as articles, numerous blogs and nutrition advice. averaged more than 1.8 million unique monthly visitors and 16 million monthly page views in the first half of 2011, making it one of the top 25 food sites in terms of traffic according to comScore;
  • A robust content licensing and custom marketing program providing diet and nutrition articles, how-to cook information, healthy recipes and meal plans to over 75 clients including major consumer portals, healthcare, food and supermarket retail partners;
  • A Healthy-in-a-Hurry mobile recipe app rated as a top foodie app by the iTunes store and top health app by Consumer Reports Health Newsletter; and
  • A series of high-quality food and nutrition-related books and cookbooks.

We’ve all heard the adage, “All brands are publishers now.” Taking a close look at the successful and profitable publishers within our industries and markets offers smart guidance for content marketers. Developing content that resonates with a passionate niche audience will help drive discovery of that messaging among liked minded people (a.k.a. well qualified prospects!)

Need to get into your niches? You can find niche influencers and track emerging trends and conversations with MediaVantage, our potent media monitoring suite that pulls traditional media coverage and social media mentions relevant to your work into a single database, so you can extract valuable information about your coverage with speed and ease. Learn more.