How To ‘Do More With Less’ And Still Deliver Value To Readers

InfoGraphic on Las Vegas Housing Data

About 10 years ago I was at a FOLIO: Show presentation by a Time Inc. executive who said something like:

“The future of publishing is that you will have to do more with less. You might as well get used to it.”

He has been correct every single year of my career since then. Over those years, I have found ways to accomplish this at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, Fine Homebuilding (magazine and web), and most recently, at Builder magazine. The three publications are very different, but two underlying strategies worked at all three places:

  1. Build a bank of content from which to withdraw
  2. Find rich veins to mine, in order to replenish the bank.

Here is one example of an infographic that accomplishes both: A redesigned Builder magazine department featuring charts and graphics pulled from a big-data website.

infographic on Las Vegas housing data
A two-page infographic extracted from multiple in-depth reports.

At Builder magazine, the DASHBOARD department was a single-page data article with three charts or graphics that someone had to write, locate charts and graphics for, and then package into a magazine layout—a lot of work for an underperforming one page infographic. To get more with less, we doubled the page count and eliminated, writer, and pul;led charts and graphics from existing content.

Take advantage of existing resources
Using a sister company, Metrostudy, as the content vein, we built a new format for DASHBOARD which was repeatable, reliable, valuable to readers, and valuable to Metrostudy.

Metrostudy publishes blogs and quarterly reports about the local housing conditions in more than 300 markets in all 50 states. We chose the Quarterly Market Summaries and the Executive Summaries to stake our magazine content mine claim. Each report contains more than 10 pages and contained lots of data.

I worked with the art director, Brian Wilson, to convert these reports into an infographic format that we could use month after month in the magazine, covering the ten biggest markets and a couple of sleeper markets to round out all 12 issues. Because of this, not only were we mining a rich content vein, we were putting a year’s worth of DASHBOARD content in the bank. 

How we did it
The infographic template is based on a repeatable formula: main text is pulled from the Executive Summary and tells an overview of what the reader is looking at. The data is pulled from charts in the the Quarterly Review Report. We would use the same charts and graphics each month to tell the same story of different local housing markets.

The map shows the top 10 housing developments, and where they are located in the state giving immediate context to the reader. Brian pulled additional data from charts in the reports to fill the flags:

  • Name of development
  • Rank of development
  • Price range of houses
  • Number of closings
  • Number of builders active in the development
  • Whether it was a single family, multifamily, or mixed development

The data spread also has a list of the top 25 builders, bar charts showing market share of the top ten developments, a Big Phat Stat, and column charts comparing inventory and land availability.

The bottom line, Infotruck-wise
There are more than twenty points of entry (charts, graphics, map, lists, text, etc.) in this two-page magazine infographic—overall, a ton of information packed into two little pages, delivering a truckload of value to readers. Because many readers of the magazine are national builders operating all over the country, zeroing in on local markets is extremely relevant to them.

This example reduces  the workload, supplies a continuous stream of content (templated), delivers more value than the old department, and is a superior layout to the old departments. A win-win-win-win solution.

Oh yeah, and it advertises the paid-website, Metrostudy.com, to the readers so it drives revenue conversions. Win-win-win-win-win-wow.

I would love to hear about any of your experiences of doing more with less.

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