Vecernji list brings in 60% profit from exercise classes

At Vecernji, we have directed all of our thoughts to creating new revenue streams in the last several years. We are trying to create a community of fans around our niche media platforms (print and digital platforms) by producing relevant and useful content, which will support and participate in our non-publishing projects. 

The growing trend among all generations to participate in outdoor activities encouraged us to launch a niche bi-monthly magazine GoOUT and accompanying digital platform 18 months ago, since publishing is still our core business. 

Analysing the needs of people, we concluded that across all age groups they are most interested in running/jogging and in Nordic walking for the 50+ age group. At the same time, a market analysis showed that sufficient capacity does not exist in clubs or schools to absorb all of this interest. 

These findings led us to an idea to establish our school, at first only in the capital city of Croatia. That is how the “GoOUT School of Movement” originated as a logical complement to the previously mentioned media platforms. 

After the initial idea, about which everyone been very enthusiastic (after everyday stresses, most of us the best relaxation finds in running), we were faced with several challenges. We didn’t know anything about organising this kind of school. We didn’t have professional trainers. We didn’t have a location or permits. And, most importantly, we didn’t have an allocated budget. 

We had to go one step at a time. Initial business plan been made and we found that project could be mostly financed from monthly memberships and the sponsorship of related companies that were interested in reaching this target group/community. 

For professional assistance, we turned to the Faculty of Kinesiology, with which we reached an agreement in a very short time (much to our very great surprise) – five trainers for the running school and seven trainers for the Nordic walking school. 

The next step was to select a location and obtain a permit. We selected four locations, in consultation with the professional team of trainers, we designed the programms.

Since the programmes involved running and walking, several training programmes for different weight classes, age groups and physical capabilities were set up. Babysitting would be provided in the morning and afternoon periods at two locations for the children of parents who were running or walking. This service was a unique offer on the market because no other school had it. We completed all of these preparations in 30 days and were ready to launch our sales effort! 

We simultaneously started sales to future attendees, exclusively using for promotion all of the media platforms of our house with BTL (below-the-line) activities at the locations — open houses and test trainings —nd to our potential sponsors (multi-vitamin drinks, sportswear, shoes, gadgets, vitamins, etc.). 

That was in September 2014. The goal was to start the school in November. We knew that it wasn’t the best time of year for outdoor activities, but we still decided to start (if we could get the required money from sponsors and enough potential participants) and to introduce the project by the spring of 2015, when the peak season begins. 

In the first wave, we concluded two-year contracts with two main sponsors and we started the school with a 130 attendees, who trained three times a week divided into seven groups and different time periods. In this way we ensured a satisfactory profit after covering the project costs (trainers, baby sitting, T-shirts for the attendees, etc.). 

Today, the school has around 400 attendees and 21 groups, and our profit margin is growing month by month.

In addition to the regular trainings, we have also organised two running races and two Nordic walking excursions in the mountains, open to anyone who is interested. Revenues from the registration fees for these events and the revenues from smaller/one-time sponsors are “icing on the cake” within P&L. We can now safely our project is a success — with a current profit margin is 60%. 

At a time when all media companies, or at least a majority of them, are faced with a constant decline in classic revenues, we have learned that a good project without an allocated budget can still be launched and create extra profit for a company. 

For us, the definition of a good project means several things: 

  1. To create a community of readers by quality content around niche media platforms.

  2. To recognise the needs of that community and to find empty space on the market.

  3. To create additional services or products that satisfy those needs an charge them.

  4. To maximise existing resources and to gather a team (project management, marketing, sales) to launch and implement  a project that believes in its success.

  5. To constantly add new elements to a project that will in the long term keep the existing users and attract new ones.

  6. To create unique environment for potential sponsors based on the needs of the target group.

  7. To optimise costs and for promotion to use only our own media platforms if the portfolio provides sufficient reach, as in our case. (Small niche publishers can try to link up with larger media companies on a revenue-sharing principle in exchange for media space).

Preparations for the next season have already begun. We will organise even more extra events, and the school can perhaps start to operate in other larger cities across the country. We are certain that new successes are coming!

About Petra Ivičević-Bakulić

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