Upfront: Turning The Page

Posted On: 1/11/2018

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“Nietzsche was the one who did it for me,” said mythographer Joseph Campbell. “At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, you say, ‘this is what I need.’ If you go through everything in life as an opportunity and a challenge, you will see that nothing can happen to you that isn’t positive.” Or, if you prefer, consider Mick Jagger’s alternate formula: “You can’t always get what you want/But if you try, sometimes you find/You get what you need.”

When the world changes – as it has more than a few times in the past 75 years – you need to change with it. Just like the vending, micromarket, coffee service and amusement operators, suppliers and manufacturers we report on in these pages, we must look objectively at the future and embrace the “disruption” we so often cover.  We need to trade orthodoxies for experimentation and fear for exuberance. And at every step, we need to keep our readers in mind.

This is the reason for the change to our publication frequency, which I have resisted for the past five years. The time is now. In January 2018, Vending Times will move from a monthly to a bimonthly schedule. Instead of publishing 12 regular print issues a year, we will publish six richer ones.

Like many news magazines in recent years, Vending Times has found that the way in which people consume information has changed. Readers who once relied on our print magazine as their source for industry news now go to our website and/or read our email newsletter for breaking stories. That’s why our online and social-media audience continues to grow so rapidly. However, there’s still strong demand for a traditional print publication, among both advertisers and suppliers. This is especially so in business-to-business industries like ours. The new bimonthly format can meet that need.

Now let’s talk about digital. By far, the biggest area of growth that Vending Times has enjoyed in recent years is the Web and social media. Changing the print frequency will allow us to redeploy resources to seize those opportunities. In conjunction with our new print format, Vending Times’ interactive assets will continue to evolve. That will mean more news, but it will also mean dedicated digital features and the flexibility to tell stories as they happen. There is real potential for a hybrid news medium that combines the immediacy of the Internet with the longevity and convenience of print.

The new Vending Times website, which launched in August, is built on a .NET framework. The new site is faster and more robust, responsive and mobile-friendly. Its enhanced appearance, organization of content and overall functionality create a better user experience. Simple navigation includes the 15 top news categories in the vending industry, which has made Vending Times the industry’s highest-ranking website and a leader in search engine optimization.

What’s more, Vending Times has implemented a new advertising program for its email products that will continue in 2018. The program delivers up to six newsletters per week; additional special editions can be scheduled as well. A key feature of our newsletter format is an advertising approach designed to give our clients 50% or 100% voice. By limiting the number of ads per campaign and so increasing their prominence in the newsletter layout, Vending Times is providing its clients with a meaningful medium to build one-to-one relationships with industry members.

Change is not always good, nor is innovation. What we should pursue, and embrace when we find it, is improvement. Most people seem to be better at resisting than embracing, but both are equally important – the trick is knowing when to stand fast and when to yield.

The forces bearing on our industry can be turned to our advantage if we keep this in mind. Vending, micromarket, foodservice and coffee service operators surely must recognize that they are retailers first and foremost; music and amusement operators know that they are retailers of entertainment.

At the same time, suppliers must recognize that these businesses have evolved to meet their markets in unique ways. That evolution has not been painless, but I think it has resulted in a degree of stability. Now that everyone is working toward right-sizing and maximizing the benefits of economy of scale, it’s time to renew our efforts to reinforce purveyors’ understanding that each of our industry’s segments can offer great benefits to suppliers of products and services who comprehend their specific needs, value their traditions and recognize the importance of their channels of communication.

So please join us for this next chapter. I think you’re going to like what you find.