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Howard Smith

BRM November '18

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Our objective is to give readers choices.

 

So make it clear that in taking up a subscription to the paper edition you give up the cover gifts!

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Just a query, and I'm not rushing?

 

I went to this link, and selected the email option but I'm not sure it went, as by mistake I moved rather quickly to another web page. However, I went back to resend it and was not able to, as I had "already entered the competition". How long before the email arrives, or have I messed it up?

 

Stewart

Hi Stewart,

 

Links should be emailed on Monday.

 

Steve

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None of this bodes well for the future of BRM.

 

I can recall the demise of Model Railways some 25 years ago.  Its publishers made several attempts to boost circulation by changing formats and content and generally 're-vamping' the magazine.  Unfortunately, these efforts only succeeded in putting off existing readers, without adding the new readers they were looking for.  The result was a terminal slump in sales, until the plug eventually had to be pulled on the title.

 

With greater competition now than existed in the early 1990s (in terms of the number of titles competing for a share of the market), subscriptions and regular orders are that much harder to come by, and so all titles must depend on casual sales [i.e. impulse purchases on the news-stands] to keep circulation up.  Potential purchasers therefore need to be able to browse the magazine to decide whether to buy a particular issue (so packaging that prevents this is inadvisable), and 'free' offers will only be attractive if they really are free, and do not involve a price hike for that issue.

 

In summary, the overall approach has to be "Don't mess the punters about."  Give them a clear and consistent offer, without gimmicks or confusing variant offers through different outlets or involving a variety of different formats.  A magazine that fails to observe this principle is in danger of going the same way as the old Model Railways magazine did. 

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None of this bodes well for the future of BRM.

 ..... 

 

A magazine that fails to observe this principle is in danger of going the same way as the old Model Railways magazine did.

 

Unfortunately your assumptions are incorrect, there are circulation challenges for all magazines but I am comfortable in saying our overall performance is healthy and profitable and we continue to invest in further developments.

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Unfortunately your assumptions are incorrect, there are circulation challenges for all magazines but I am comfortable in saying our overall performance is healthy and profitable and we continue to invest in further developments.

 

In which case, why mess about with a successful format?

 

Irrespective of the thinking that has led to recent messing about with what is on offer, I would still maintain that the best bet for the future of the magazine would be to give readers (and potential new readers) a clear and consistent offer, without gimmicks or confusing variant offers through different outlets or involving a variety of different formats and prices.

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In which case, why mess about with a successful format?

 

Irrespective of the thinking that has led to recent messing about with what is on offer, I would still maintain that the best bet for the future of the magazine would be to give readers (and potential new readers) a clear and consistent offer, without gimmicks or confusing variant offers through different outlets or involving a variety of different formats and prices.

And equal content!

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And equal content!

?

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That sounds fair enough. However, since I've never really been into scenery, I hope this one won't end up becoming the replacement for last year's "cake box challenge".

 

Of course, if we were also to get a motive power and/or rolling stock themed kitbashing challenge, I'm sure my concerns would soon cease to be an issue.

 

 

Huw.

Although it could equally be a wagon kit or similar. Edited by 009 micro modeller

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And equal content!

 

 

?

 

I was thinking of the extra pics etc on the Digital version Andy. 

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I was thinking of the extra pics etc on the Digital version Andy.

 

Extra pictures would mean extra pages which means extra cost and we've not worked out how to get extra video onto the printed page yet.

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In which case, why mess about with a successful format?

 

Irrespective of the thinking that has led to recent messing about with what is on offer, I would still maintain that the best bet for the future of the magazine would be to give readers (and potential new readers) a clear and consistent offer, without gimmicks or confusing variant offers through different outlets or involving a variety of different formats and prices.

History is littered with businesses and products who have been market leading and had a winning formula / format etc who've then become complacent and not continued their development and have eventually found that their competitors have overtaken them.

 

Changing everything overnight is clearly wrong. Trying new ideas, testing what technology can do is only to our benefit as consumers. Some ideas may not work and will be dropped. Others will become features that in due course will become popular and whose demise we will eventually mourn.

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Thank you for sending me my metcalfe kit do quickly. You have handled a mistake well and I for one is very happy with the out come

 

Richard

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It is an interesting debate, although probably frustrating for Andy, Phil and co!

 

I am with Stationmaster and agree with his earlier post as I had reached the same conclusion. I am of the view that for various reasons already elucidated the digital and print versions are now, in marketing terms, two very different products, and they are being treated as such by Warners. The product differentiation between them is huge, although I appreciate this was probably not the intention. However a part of the print customer base is being irritated by this. Whether that has a material impact on sales etc is TBC. But there are enough comments on here, not of the usual moans, to confirm that it is a 'thing'. I have concerns about the impact of all this on BRM's value proposition and price perception.

 

As one of those who feels a bit fed up with the overemphasis on digital, I have resolved not to read these particular threads any longer and just see what turns up each month in BRM. And do some modelling instead!! Phil's scenic modelling articles and Andy's photography remain best in class, and the business interviews provide some useful insights.

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In which case, why mess about with a successful format?

 

Irrespective of the thinking that has led to recent messing about with what is on offer, I would still maintain that the best bet for the future of the magazine would be to give readers (and potential new readers) a clear and consistent offer, without gimmicks or confusing variant offers through different outlets or involving a variety of different formats and prices.

 

As I said in my post on 11th October, and which no-one appears to have commented upon, I still  think it would be best if both subscribers of the print edition and those who buy it over the counter received exactly the same offer, and that the title of this remains BRM ~ full stop!

 

Warners could then produce a NEW digital only model railway title that just contains the items NOT contained in the Print editions, and make this available at the same price per issue for everyone, whether they have a regular subscription or prefer to buy just the months they want. But please do not call this new digital content BRM or the confusion will continue for ages past Brexit!

 

Food for serious thought and a response by the BRM team, I think.

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Hello Howard,

You have an article by Phil entitled ‘Variations on a Theme’ which highlights a Metcalfe small cottage kit, which the article says is available from the Warner’s website (world-ofr-railways.co.uk). But I cannot find a way of accessing the order site for it. Would be grateful for your assistance

 

Many thanks

 

Rod

Ditto or are we supposed to buy the current issue again? Or have they all gone?

 

Regards

Basil

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Ditto or are we supposed to buy the current issue again? Or have they all gone?

 

Regards

Basil

I'll try and get clarification for you on that tomorrow but there shouldn't be any need for additional purchase.

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With respect to differentiation between print and digital issues I can see where some are coming from. Maybe it's worth rewinding a little first and look at some of the evolution. We started to offer a DVD on a regular basis which has been a big distinguishing feature of the magazine from competitors and despite some initial adverse comments seems to be fairly well received and we get a lot of positive comments about it at shows. When we started focussing a little more on the digital version of the magazine we first of all introduced additional images, on its own that's probably not enough of an incentive to buy the product above the convenience aspect (for some) of the digital mag. Phil and I wanted to explore the potential for more video content to add value to it and it's at this point, with good marketing support, that sales have started to move forward very well, and not at the expense of the printed issue in sales terms. Whether the digital buyers are new customers altogether or converts from print who, in turn, are replaced by new print buyers it is impossible for us to tell.

 

As the main layout photographer for the mag I am in an ideal position to capture some video footage of some layouts and owners on my travels but I'm not a pro and continue to learn more about that aspect, it's a completely different skill set from the still photography. In most cases it wouldn't be viable to get the pro-video team who produce most of the DVD content out of the office and studio for such segments but it's better to get something rather than nothing.

 

An example is this.

 

 

Meanwhile Phil gets to a whole lot more places to even creating content as far as Toronto with Rapido.

 

 

Some months will see more minutes than others as we don't plan a set amount and occasionally the relevance comes together in one month which is why there's 2.5 hours of video content this month.

 

The content is intended to be complementary to the print content but would it be viable on its own? Probably not unless we then start to put more work into it and we're already working flat-out so something else would have to give. The time-consuming bit isn't getting the video, it's the editing and rendering.

 

It also gives us a chance to go off beat, Phil and I recently went to a 3D printing show at the NEC - on the page it would be dreadfully dull but it's really interesting stuff for video. Next month there's also the threat of Phil and I being a bit silly (but for a good reason) on a Christmas angle.

 

These are all things which don't even go straight to DVD as the schedule for that runs way ahead of even the print mag whilst these digital extras are often finished after the mag itself has gone to print.

 

We enjoy making the extra content and giving added value so the only way to bring the two products closer together is for us to do less. There isn't enough structure (yet) to create two distinct products on a sustainable basis but if the trend of growth that we are seeing in the digital sales continues who knows what the future may bring?

 

And just to chuck a spanner in the works there will be another product choice soon more tailored to RMweb members.

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With respect to differentiation between print and digital issues I can see where some are coming from. Maybe it's worth rewinding a little first and look at some of the evolution. We started to offer a DVD on a regular basis which has been a big distinguishing feature of the magazine from competitors and despite some initial adverse comments seems to be fairly well received and we get a lot of positive comments about it at shows. When we started focussing a little more on the digital version of the magazine we first of all introduced additional images, on its own that's probably not enough of an incentive to buy the product above the convenience aspect (for some) of the digital mag. Phil and I wanted to explore the potential for more video content to add value to it and it's at this point, with good marketing support, that sales have started to move forward very well, and not at the expense of the printed issue in sales terms. Whether the digital buyers are new customers altogether or converts from print who, in turn, are replaced by new print buyers it is impossible for us to tell.

 

As the main layout photographer for the mag I am in an ideal position to capture some video footage of some layouts and owners on my travels but I'm not a pro and continue to learn more about that aspect, it's a completely different skill set from the still photography. In most cases it wouldn't be viable to get the pro-video team who produce most of the DVD content out of the office and studio for such segments but it's better to get something rather than nothing.

 

An example is this.

 

 

Meanwhile Phil gets to a whole lot more places to even creating content as far as Toronto with Rapido.

 

 

Some months will see more minutes than others as we don't plan a set amount and occasionally the relevance comes together in one month which is why there's 2.5 hours of video content this month.

 

The content is intended to be complementary to the print content but would it be viable on its own? Probably not unless we then start to put more work into it and we're already working flat-out so something else would have to give. The time-consuming bit isn't getting the video, it's the editing and rendering.

 

It also gives us a chance to go off beat, Phil and I recently went to a 3D printing show at the NEC - on the page it would be dreadfully dull but it's really interesting stuff for video. Next month there's also the threat of Phil and I being a bit silly (but for a good reason) on a Christmas angle.

 

These are all things which don't even go straight to DVD as the schedule for that runs way ahead of even the print mag whilst these digital extras are often finished after the mag itself has gone to print.

 

We enjoy making the extra content and giving added value so the only way to bring the two products closer together is for us to do less. There isn't enough structure (yet) to create two distinct products on a sustainable basis but if the trend of growth that we are seeing in the digital sales continues who knows what the future may bring?

 

And just to chuck a spanner in the works there will be another product choice soon more tailored to RMweb members.

One point and one query on reverse loops....

First the Point - For what it is worth IMHO grovel abase abase etc etc - I get all 4 mainstream UK rly Mdlg mags - have done for years -  I am a longterm paper subscriber, but was seriously considering dumping this magazine in the last few years on lack of content/quality grounds regardless of gimmicks like DVDs and card kits until I compared what I was paying compared with its competitors - it was so cheap - I would guess that many of the people aggrieved by your marketing are not in quite my position and they are paying (close to) full price. You have been very generous to your long time subscribers - so thank you .......

However.... I am glad I stuck with it thro the doldrum years as It has improved significantly in the last few issues but the DVDs are still an irrelevance to me  - I haven't looked at them for years - I must have 15 or 20 or more tucked away for my dotage when I can no longer put trains on track, and anyway not sure in taking 4 mags if I have time to look at a DVD and play trains and (try to) do work!! More irritating was the Pendon issue - try casually using the 3-D coloured glasses with reading glasses - total turn-off.  Now if you had hologrammatical versions of the magazine that would be ground-breaking :jester: !!

Next the query - page 92 - not got a reversing loop yet and knew only the traditional solution but really intrigued  by the 2 point solution as I think I could fit it in but looking at the rail breaks I cannot for the life of me see how a circuit can be completed on the loop on the red rail  in the last diagram unless there is some external link - You state four breaks under Operation para (near top of page) but there are 5 in the diagram you have got two breaks on the red rail and no feed/link in - however theoretically I can see how it could work if you dumped the break on the red loop line adjacent to Link 1 thus mirroring the black rail. How does a loco on the loop not bridging any breaks complete a power circuit through the red rail? What am I missing (apart from grey cells :scratchhead: )

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I'll try and get clarification for you on that tomorrow but there shouldn't be any need for additional purchase.

If you go to www.world-of-railways.co.uk and enter the 'readers offer' section you'll find it there.

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As I said in my post on 11th October, and which no-one appears to have commented upon, I still think it would be best if both subscribers of the print edition and those who buy it over the counter received exactly the same offer, and that the title of this remains BRM ~ full stop!

 

Warners could then produce a NEW digital only model railway title that just contains the items NOT contained in the Print editions, and make this available at the same price per issue for everyone, whether they have a regular subscription or prefer to buy just the months they want. But please do not call this new digital content BRM or the confusion will continue for ages past Brexit!

 

Food for serious thought and a response by the BRM team, I think.

Some really interesting comments here. We are, despite what some think, still very much testing what works in a Digital Edition. The current issue is packed with extras. The next issue is pretty much the normal print magazine in a digital format. We'll see how sales of print and digital vary over the two issues. We also need to take into account the significant amount of time required to add 'extras' to the DE.

 

Another option is that we add a lot of the digital extras onto the DVD too. That way both digital formats get the same.

 

We are listening...

 

PS- sorry for any mistakes. I hate typing on a mobile phone!!

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So make it clear that in taking up a subscription to the paper edition you give up the cover gifts!

 

But you (we) don't.  if you subscribe to the 'paper version (and I do) you get the free DVD - ok so the cost is written down somewhere but in consumer terms we aren't paying any extra for it in a perceivable way.  Nor are we paying more than the normal cover pice to get a kit included with the newsstand version.

 

Now back to my comment about separating digi and print on here.  Having been told by Phil they are both the same but then adding the digi has additional content we seem to be back to where i started - they are obviously not the same because the digi version has extra content.  Right so tell those who are interested what it has and tell us dinosaurs who like to hold the mag in our hands what it has - no need y to imply we're missing put by sticking to paper based media and no need to confuse us by expecting things which aren't there when the Postie pops it through the letterbox.  and surely the common content is readily dealt with by a bit of electronic cut & paste to separate between two threads.  By all means bung an advert of the digi version on the paper thread, even pin it at the top but keep 'em separate and let us double post to both for common content between the two.

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Some really interesting comments here. We are, despite what some think, still very much testing what works in a Digital Edition. The current issue is packed with extras. The next issue is pretty much the normal print magazine in a digital format. We'll see how sales of print and digital vary over the two issues. We also need to take into account the significant amount of time required to add 'extras' to the DE.

 

Another option is that we add a lot of the digital extras onto the DVD too. That way both digital formats get the same.

 

We are listening...

 

PS- sorry for any mistakes. I hate typing on a mobile phone!!

Ah, now that sentence I have highlighted in bold sounds like a good way to go Steve (well for me at any rate).  

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Just loved "Burden Park" and felt that Gordon Hall was so comfortable in front of the camera, a natural media man?

Also the Buildings and Signals by both Geoff Taylor and Tony Gee were superb. I think I know how Gordon met Tony or vice versa  :jester:

 

Regards,Derek.

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Ah, now that sentence I have highlighted in bold sounds like a good way to go Steve (well for me at any rate).  

 

It's something we are looking at, I've been an advocate of it for a while, BUT the lead time for the DVD is measured in months, the digital issue in hours. Any digi issue content that ends up on the DVD will be there quite some time after it has first been seen.

 

That might not matter some of the time, but you'll be seeing the Andy'n'Phil Christmas special in February or March and exhibition footage long after the event. 

 

I'm not sure this is a solvable problem. Two threads would make sense, but at some point you'll get discussions on the same articles happening in two places. We'll still be talking about all the "extras" on the digital version too - we want people to buy into it after all.

 

Some will say - "Well stop doing a digital issue then" - to which I'd reply that if the magazine does that we'll be dead in less than 5 years as the market changes so I'm going to start job hunting ASAP. We could also be lazy and just make the digi exactly the same as the paper version. It would save Andy Y and myself a lot of work, but again, as the market changes, people would lose interest and it's back to job hunting.

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One point and one query on reverse loops....

First the Point - For what it is worth IMHO grovel abase abase etc etc - I get all 4 mainstream UK rly Mdlg mags - have done for years -  I am a longterm paper subscriber, but was seriously considering dumping this magazine in the last few years on lack of content/quality grounds regardless of gimmicks like DVDs and card kits until I compared what I was paying compared with its competitors - it was so cheap - I would guess that many of the people aggrieved by your marketing are not in quite my position and they are paying (close to) full price. You have been very generous to your long time subscribers - so thank you .......

However.... I am glad I stuck with it thro the doldrum years as It has improved significantly in the last few issues but the DVDs are still an irrelevance to me  - I haven't looked at them for years - I must have 15 or 20 or more tucked away for my dotage when I can no longer put trains on track, and anyway not sure in taking 4 mags if I have time to look at a DVD and play trains and (try to) do work!! More irritating was the Pendon issue - try casually using the 3-D coloured glasses with reading glasses - total turn-off.  Now if you had hologrammatical versions of the magazine that would be ground-breaking :jester: !!

 

But when I'm at shows, and not just Warners ones, people come up to me to say how much they love the DVDs. Should we drop them because one or two people don't like the idea of them? If you've not watched them, give a couple a go.

 

In the same way, some people really liked the Pendon photos. Holograms would have been better (I love a hologram, nearly as much as I love cake), but most people would have collapsed at the cover price!

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