Adcom founder and owner, Craig Towill, speaks of his vision of‘making the impossible possible’ for the advertising industry through‘showcasing possibilities’. The channel – not just another magazine, a ‘publication’, with a bouquet of offerings and platforms.
A brief history
Q: A new publication aimed at the marketing and advertising industry! Generally speaking, it takes years of experience and lots of knowledge to begin competing in an established sector. Who, exactly, is Craig Towill?
A: My career in the advertising and related industries is 16 years to date. It began when working for a Centurion-based photographic company delivering chemicals to one-hour photo labs country-wide, scanning neg’s and at a stage managing the Lab. It wasn’t long before I developed an interest in Graphic design and photography and very quickly moved on to doing comprehensive bureau work. It was at this stage I was exposed to a number of different industry fields and developments. Through the path I chose I ultimately ended up in the signage industry which took me down to Durban.
It was when I moved back to Johannesburg 2 years ago that I started an “agency”-type business. My service offering was mainly signage, but also included website development; business card design; and corporate identity creation, among others. Promoting my business over the years I became frustrated at the lack of a cost-effective but valuable means of advertising directly to my customer market.
I find that traditional means of advertising for small businesses, such as blanket flyers and business card dissemination, did little to increase business. Aside from being extremely time-consuming the return is negligible.
It was while I was en route to Sign Africa 2011 with financial and business adviser Arrie Strauss when the idea struck. I was thinking of the offering Sign Africa – and its magazines – has and realised that practically anything needed by manufacturing suppliers is showcased. However, there is no medium to showcase these suppliers’ products and services to the industries that ultimately make use of our services.
After discussing the idea with several ‘friends’ in influential positions in large corporates several ideas began to unfold. What is now Adcom, principal among them.
Q: What makes you feel there is place for Adcom in such a specialist industry?
I initially thought my idea was too good to be unique. However, months of research proved me wrong. There is currently no magazine with the same content Adcom is covering – certainly not with the same scope and detail! While running editorial on advertisers. Not only did my research establish this, but we also came to realise that as far as ‘business as usual’ is concerned there is no category encompassing the companies Adcom will be grouping and show casing. This may be because the range of suppliers is so diverse. Be that as it may, these companies are all suppliers to the greater marketing industry and therefore of relevance to my target audience.
The next step was sourcing information from media industry experienced people. My editor Andrew has 20 years of journalism, about 12 of them editing, under his belt. His writing and editing experience is across a range of subjects, businesses and industries, and while freelancing has written for and worked with marketing, advertising and public relations agencies. He and I bounced ideas off one another before it was envisaged we would be working together. Over and above several other information sources, I’m fortunate enough to be acquainted with the owner and editor of the country’s largest monthly specialist biking magazine His experience and knowledge are an invaluable contribution and have assisted me greatly in entering the media fraternity.
A mock-up quickly followed and then began the mammoth task of sourcing advertising interest. It was at this point that doors began to open. Interaction with potential advertisers led to further ideas to enhance the editorial concept. I feel that input from my target audience will assist me in fulfilling Adcom’s objective. My initial idea began to evolve! I view my advertisers as my partners and the aim of our editorial is to benefit them business-wise. With this in mind, while all our reporting is objective, editorial suggestions from our partners are certainly considered and implemented if beneficial to Adcom’s goal. As a matter of fact, some of our first partners had important opinions integral to Adcom’s evolution. These have already been implemented.
Q: Most industries are inundated with specialist trade magazine. The advertising and marketing industries are no exception. What makes you think there is space – and interest – for yet another trade magazine?
A: It’s no secret the industry has its fair share of established magazines. We’re well aware of the number and type of magazines available and agree that there are far too many industry magazines. Many of these are not even read by its target audience. The last thing anyone wants isanother‘magazine’! Adcom is, however, more than a ‘magazine’. It is more appropriately described as an ‘umbrella publication’ in which the print medium and several online alternatives and platforms are available. I call it a ‘publication’. Adcom Media is a family of products, or stable of mediums if you will, comprising the hardcopy magazine; an online version; regular updates; phone and tablet applications; and an information exchange forum. (Based on the facebook concept, with an online store, allowing my partners to show case their companies and products virtually).
My vision is to‘make the impossible possible’ for the Agenciesby streamlining the available, and not-so-easily available, information on manufacturers’ of materials and mediums, as well as services, for the advertising and marketing – and related – industries. Our focus is on new developments, enhancements, implementation ideas and technology. The objective is to enable and assist agencies to roll-out and deliver the best possible campaigns for their clients by providing them with up-to-date and informative business intelligence.
Our vision continued to evolve with input from partners and other interested parties. We gained enough information to make the publication both variable and diverse while keeping content sufficiently focused to sustain reader interest. It was through third party input that the scope of editorial coverage and advertising target was eventually established.
Affecting the industry
Q: In essence, are you saying that Adcom is aimed at bringing suppliers and agencies closer together? If so, one would naturally assume that these relationships already exist.
A: I acknowledge that agencies are the experts in their field and know best regards their respective campaigns. I also recognise that agencies and most suppliers already have established relationships. I’m in no way attempting to circumvent this! My idea is to add value to these already established relationships by providing a medium showcasingALLsuppliers. The aim is to be both informative and educational, specifically with regards to new products and technologies. The essence is the technology and available products. What works and what doesn’t. Adcom aims to take all supplier information from across the industry and streamline it – effectively providing one value-adding medium which can also be used as a reference. Giving added exposure to smaller suppliers.
Q: The fact that there are too many magazines has been mentioned several times. You appear very blasé with regards to competitors. Why is this?
There is currently no competition on the editorial front. But we do have competition as far as our advertisers are concerned. What sets us apart is that over and above our unique information offering, our partners get the equivalent editorial coverage to that of the space used by their advert. I must emphasise the fact that this is not advertorial. It gives the advertiser the opportunity to showcase their products and services without any marketing speak. Information is written by Adcom staff and is not embellished. Any advertorial will clearly be marked as such and paid for accordingly.
Our ‘competitors’ focus on industry news, and are very good at it, but cover little on products used in the fulfilment of advertising and marketing campaigns. Adcom is inverting this type of coverage. While it may comment on important industry news and report small quantities of business news, it is not treading on competitor territory. We don’t intend to. They have their niche and we have ours!
Q: You are obviously optimistic regarding the future. What are your goals and how are you going to go about achieving them?
A: While the first short-term goal, launching Adcom, has been achieved, my foremost priority is to get business for our advertisers. With this in mind promoting the Adcom brand – or ‘getting it out there – is ongoing. My goal is to get exposure on as many mediums as possible and we will do this via SEO, social networks, agency visits and word of mouth, radio and TV. The biggest exposure we’ll receive is from the print version, which will reach all prominent agencies. This will be supplemented with regular news mailers, drawing readers to the online version.
My short- to medium-term goal is to get readership from the corporate sector, companies that do the majority of marketing and advertising in-house, and eventually venture into the public domain. Everyone who has a company, no matter how small, needs to advertise. Adcom can facilitate this as showcasing the products and services we do will allow smaller businesses to implement campaigns themselves – in an affordable way.” My long-term goal is ‘going global’.
Differentiating the publication
Q: Summarise your publications salient features.
. We will be aiming to keep the content separate from online and print, encouraging people to use both..
Adcom isTHEmarketing tool for marketing industry suppliers! “Adcom’s essence is about its advertisers. Keepingtheirinterests at heart and portrayingtheirmessage to the people usingtheirservices. Adcom is only the vessel.
Coming from the industry and a part of this segment, my passion is for these businesses to benefit and prosper from Adcom while, at the same time, make life for the agencies easier when it comes to sourcing suppliers to suit their needs. It is these suppliers that will enable agencies to‘make the impossible possible’in executing their campaigns.