Hallmark Greets Customers With New Magazine

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Send a Best Wishes card to Hallmark for its next venture.

The company has branched out from greeting cards, chocolates and a television channel to a new women's lifestyle publication called Hallmark Magazine. The bimonthly magazine from the Hallmark Publishing subsidiary will compete with O: The Oprah Magazine and Martha Stewart Living.

"Hallmark is about making emotional connections and inspiring and renewing yourself," said Carol Boggs, publisher of Hallmark Magazine, New York. "It is not a how-to book, but a why-to book."

The targeted readership is the 2.2 million mothers whose median age is 43 and median household income is $77,871. The first issue hits newsstands Aug. 22 in time for the fourth quarter, the most important quarter to the Hallmark parent in Kansas City, MO.

Editorial will focus on food and entertaining, relationships, culture, home, crafts and beauty and wellness. The complementing Web site at www.hallmarkmagazine.com will contain separate editorial content and advertising.

"We want women to connect with themselves and their loved ones," Ms. Boggs said. "We don't want them to be someone else or have stress, but rather we want them to be real."

Hallmark Magazine will feature no celebrity content. It will run articles on real women from writers such as Pulitzer Prize winner Peg Tyre and New York Times columnist Michelle Slatalla.

"We want to fill the void of the why," Ms. Boggs said. "We don't just want people to bake a cake, but to make it mean something to them in the process."

It's in the Mail

Hallmark Magazine will have a guaranteed rate base of 400,000 in 2006, and plans to raise it to 550,000 in January 2007. The magazine will remain a bimonthly until publishing 10 times in 2008. The introductory subscription price is $14.95. An individual copy will sell for $3.95 on newsstands.

"We have an aggressive circulation growth strategy," said Laura Beddini, circulation director for Hallmark Publishing. "We are really excited to get involved with all of the marketing assets, including traditional mail."

The magazine's circulation strategy is a source mix. Forty percent of circulation will come from outside sources, and the rest from Hallmark. The outside sources include direct mail; the purchasing of book club, magazine and catalog lists; insert cards in newsstand and subscription copies; and a gift subscription program.

Hallmark sources include direct mail from the corporate database and Hallmark Crown Card member communications; promotions at Hallmark retail outlets; and e-mail blasts from Hallmark's online operations. The Hallmark database contains 35 million members. The company has 4,000 Gold Crown stores nationwide.

"We were blown away by the response rates to offers placed in bags in Gold Crown Stores," Ms. Beddini said. "Our original plan was to have a rate base of 300,000, but that changed right after we received the test results."

Hallmark spent three years testing and researching the market before it sent out four test issues with a distribution of 1.2 million copies. Targeted readers also received mail vouchers introducing the Hallmark Magazine logo, two letters from the editor, a letter from the marketing director and a cake recipe card.

"Research showed us that women spent 80 minutes reading the test issue," said Nancy Smalls, president of Hallmark Publishing. "We ventured in to find an opening to bring emotional connections into people's lives, and those people trust Hallmark and have a positive association with the brand."

The publication has applied for membership in the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Schaumburg, IL.

Advertisers Buy In

Hallmark will publicize the magazine on the site at www.hallmark.com, which receives 129 million hits yearly. Plans are also in the works to market the title with Hallmark Flowers and to partner with Crayola, a Hallmark brand.

The launch issue will feature 35 pages of ads from Estee Lauder to Epson printers and Kraft. All are paid ads, even those from Hallmark itself.

"All the ads were directly sold by the publisher, which resulted in a dual revenue stream and business plan," Ms. Smalls said.

A full-page color ad now costs $23,200 but rises to $31,900 in 2007.

"We really want to enrich our relationship with our customers and become a major player in content, because this is the first magazine venture for the company," Ms. Smalls said.

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