Launching a version of your magazine on distant shores can be daunting, but as long as you pick the right partners and do your research - it could be a good way to make more revenue out of your brand.
Know who you are working with
Knowing who will be publishing a local version of your magazine is vital. The bulk of these deals are done on a licence basis, where the brand owner gives a partner the right to use a brand, layout and content for a set period in return for a fee or share of revenue.
Immediate - which contains what used to be BBC Magazines - has launched titles such as Top Gear and Lonely Planet Traveller in territories as diverse as Brazil, Australia and China. Alexandre told me about the stringent due diligence process to protect its brands. That process includes:
-- Check your partner's brand: Alexandre says researching the reputation of prospective partners is particularly important when working with the BBC brand: "We wouldn’t want to publish with someone who has a pornography arm, for example."
-- Check the editor: Immediate has a contractual right of refusal over the partner's choice of editor.
-- Check what you are going to get: Immediate requires the partner to provide a business plan for five years, competitor analysis and a mock-up first edition.
James has launched titles such as Campaign and PrintWeek in Russia, Dubai and India, where Haymarket now runs Campaign as a joint-venture. He says for Haymarket, the process of picking a partner is less formal, but no less important.
He says: "There's a number of things we do building up to licensing an edition and afterwards, where there is a lot of vetting. It starts with asking the original contact basic questions to make sure they know what they are talking about."
"We'll say who is going to be the editor, they tell us and we phone up a friend in the industry and say do you know this bloke. We'll also talk to advertisers about specific markets, we'll talk to printers to know whether the publisher is paying their print bills.
"There is an ongoing process to keep an eye on what they are doing because our brands are the most valuable thing we have got."
Know where you are working
Both Alexandre and James say good local partners help inform you about the market you are launching in, but additional research is necessary to identify differences that you need to take into account when planning your business model.
Areas where it can make a big difference include:
-- Content: When launching the Greek version of Top Gear, which has since closed, Immediate found it couldn't use any content about diesel cars because in Greece you can't buy diesel.
-- Distribution: In other mediterranean countries, Immediate also had to adapt its marketing model to take into account a culture around magazine kiosks which barely exists in the UK.
-- Regulation: To launch Campaign in India, Haymarket had to wait for its application to clear a complex government approval process that took more than a year. The Print Week launch was cleared more quickly, but James knows of publishers who expected to be able to launch within months of applying who waited as long as two years to get clearance.
High margin activity
Alexandre and James say their foreign launches have been valuable exercises, both in terms of bringing in new revenues and in enhancing the original brand's reputation. In general, says Alexandre, licensing brands globally is a high profit margin activity.
Their final tips for publishers thinking of giving it a go:
Alexandre: "Make sure the party you work with really understands your brand and what you stand for. Have editors talk to editors, rather than just sales people talking to senior managers."
James: "The most important thing wherever you go in the world, whichever language you are publishing, whether it is licensing or joint venture, you have to have someone on the ground in that country who knows what they are talking about, knows the industry and you can trust.
"You can have all the contracts you want - they mean nothing in the end. When push comes to shove, all a contract does is get you a season ticket to a court where you are going to argue about it."