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Magazine Heroes: Every Industry Needs Them. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Founder Dan Collins.

January 12, 2023

“We are tactile beings and from my experience people love immediate gratification of holding, feeling, smelling, reading the product that we hand out.” Dan Collins

“I like to take the stress out of the distribution and circulation for the publisher and we work hard to ensure our publishers are calm and can carry on with producing the magazines we all love.” Dan Collins

Every industry needs a hero or two, and the magazine industry is no different. That’s why Dan Collins, from the United Kingdom, decided to launch Magazine Heroes seven years ago. “Over those years I have worked with so many great publications and brands getting publications and products into the hands of their target market,” he wrote on his LinkedIn page.  He continued, “We’ve sampled not only magazines and newspapers but crisps, yoghurts, alcohol free beer, chocolate on hot sunny days and Ice Cream in the snow!  We have worked across the UK, Europe, North America and Hong Kong. We have not just sampled but we have sold products too, advised on subscription strategy, audited and helped to launch a few magazines along the way.” 

I was intrigued by the idea of Magazine Heroes and decided to reach out to Dan to ask him some question about the genesis of the idea, the plans for the future and the role of samples, as in real stuff, in the future of the industry.

Here is the Mr. Magazine™ question and answer with Dan Collins, founder, Magazine Heroes:

Samir Husni: Would you please explain to me the genesis of the Magazine Heroes?  Any description about its beginnings, the reasons behind it, etc. would be great…

Dan Collins: Having worked in Distribution and Marketing for several years in the Media World, I started working for Time Out London Magazine. During my tenure at Time Out I worked with the magazine to change the distribution Model from paid to free.  Overnight the magazine went from distributing 30k a week to distributing 300k a week bringing new readers for both the magazine and its website together with new advertising streams.  We then repeated this in New York, Hong Kong and many other cities.  There had been much interest in this new distribution model and having been asked for advice many times – I decided to take the Leap and start a Magazine Distribution Consultancy – and so Magazine Heroes was born.

S.H. : In addition to the Magazine Heroes, you use the term We Know Footfall, do you mind expanding? 

D.C. : The last few years have been game changing. Commuting has changed, shopping has changed and the flow of people into cities, offices, shopping malls has all altered. What we knew before about peoples travel habits, and took for granted, is not true anymore. Footfall is the flow of people and when sampling to a target audience it is important to understand the consumer and their behaviours in order to distribute at the highest traffic times, to gain maximum exposure at a cost-efficient price. With many people still working from offices only 2/3 days per week and tourists only just coming back to cities, this is important to monitor. 

S.H. : The main thrust of your business is sampling, real samples, magazines, beauty products, newspapers, etc., why do you believe in the power of a real sample and not a digital coupon or such?

D.C. : There is no getting away from digital and it is a useful tool but there is nothing better than receiving a product in your hand as a free gift. We are tactile beings and from my experience people love immediate gratification of holding, feeling, smelling, reading the product that we hand out.  Yes, we could send a digital token but unless you have bought in to the brand you probably won’t use it – real samples give you inspiration and the opportunity to try something that you may not have thought about.

S.H. : Since you established Magazine Heroes 7 years ago, what have been some of the major hurdles you had to overcome and what are some of the pleasant surprises you faced?

D.C. : Setting up by yourself is a solitary thing and not for the faint hearted. I missed the buzz of the office and people to bounce ideas off. I countered this by forming a strong group of partner companies and freelancers who very quickly became part of the team. 

I also had to learn from my mistakes – I learnt not to give away too much information without agreeing a contract. Covid was a huge struggle for the company as our main workflow relied on footfall out and about on the streets and human interaction.  Whilst it was hard we monitored where people were allowed to go and worked with unmanned stands, supermarkets and also started to work with online retailers to insert copies of magazines into likeminded shoppers purchases.  I would say that pleasant surprises come from being recommended by word of mouth and working on projects for most of my past employers it’s been nice to work with them again.

S.H. : What is in store for 2023? I know you are based in the UK but have done work in the USA too, any plans to expand?  

D.C. : 2022 saw us working across Europe and we are hoping for more this year. The world is such a small place, and we have contacts across the globe. As the world opens up again, we will be here ready to take on whatever challenges may call us.

S.H. : What makes Dan the Magazine Hero?  And what makes you tick and click on a daily basis?  That is what drives you to get out of bed every day?

D.C.: I have always loved the challenge and working in this industry has certainly been a roller-coaster ride.  I also strive to give my clients a great experience.  I don’t always tell them what they want to hear and I believe that by setting realistic goals and expectations I gain their trust.  What makes Dan the Magazine Hero?  I always like to go the extra mile – for each project we will try to go beyond expectations with clear communication and enthusiasm and most importantly we always try to keep the costs as low as possible

S.H. : Anything else you would like to add or anything I failed to ask about?  This is your chance to ask yourself a question and answer it.  LOL. 

D.C. : What other areas of the magazine world do you work in?  I like to take the stress out of the distribution and circulation for the publisher and we work hard to ensure our publishers are calm and can carry on with producing the magazines we all love.  Not only do we work with free distribution, but we can run paid distribution for niche titles and can source nontrade for unusual avenues for sale.  We also can look after ABC and AAM submissions for magazines when the magazine does not have a circulation department anymore. Lastly, we always like to say in distribution that nothing is impossible – we will always think up a solution even if you are hitting a brick wall!

S.H. : My typical last question is what keeps Dan up at night these days?

D.C. : The cost of paper, print, transportation are all worrying factors in our world, but I have seen a growth of targeted, niche magazines that speak to selected audiences and I am constantly thinking how we can get their great work to a wider audience – where is that audience and what would hook them into being a regular reader.

S.H. :  Thank you and to learn more about Magazine Heroes click here.

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