While some print magazines are looking at a bleak future, Suzanne Soto-Davis has her sights set high. Her magazine's demographic is growing, and they love their magazines!

How long have you been publishing Silver and Gold?

I have been publishing Silver and Gold for almost two years. May/June (our upcoming issue) will be the last of our second year publication! Very exciting…

Tell us about your target market?

Silver and Gold is published for Adults 55+; a group which is growing in numbers by 17% annually. It is estimated that by the year 2020 (only about 10 years from now!) they will make up half of our Canadian population. This demographic accounts for 86% of readers of magazines.

How does the demographic of your audience influence your design and editorial voice?

Silver and Gold was designed specifically with the 55+ demographic’s needs in consideration, in that the text is larger than most publications, the page numbers are easy to find and pronounced, and the specific sections within the magazine are colour coded. The editorial focuses on uplifting editorial, based upon the needs and values of our vibrant Adult 55+ audience. This audience is active within their communities and have a strong ‘zest for life’ – and contrary to what little understanding many young marketing executives’ awareness dictates on the demographic, this rapidly growing group has a yearning for living: travel, shopping, health, parenting and grand-parenting, upon many other topics.

Did you have an interest in this niche before you started publishing your magazine?

Two influences directed me to publish Silver and Gold and focus on this special niche: My Grandfather, who twenty years ago said to me: “I’m tired of going to the Doctor’s office and reading Cosmopolitan – I can barely read the print and I don’t think ads selling shaving products for young ladies is really for me.” The other reason is obvious: demographical studies. There isn’t a single publication which focuses on this group in a tasteful, colourful, ethical way.

Did you see a need for your magazine in the market? What need did you meet that made your magazine successful?

The need was definitely there, as there wasn’t any publication focusing on this demographic on a local basis – the demographic’s most important need. It’s interesting to know that Suzanne Sommers is over 50, but it doesn’t touch the reader as deeply as learning that Harry Walker of Walker’s Chocolate lives in Burlington, or that Director James Cameron grew up around the corner in Kapuskasing, Ontario.

How long between the time when you first conceived of Silver and Gold and the first issue?

Feels like a lifetime, but we began studies, research and focus groups approximately 1 year prior to publishing our first issue.

Suzanne Davies
Suzanne Soto-Davies,
editor and publisher of
Silver And Gold Magazine.

Would you consider yourself an expert in your field?

This is a difficult question to answer with a simple Yes or No, as a publisher (and company founder) wears many hats: entrepreneur, marketer, salesperson, manager, art director, journalist, researcher… the list goes on. And if you tie in all that knowledge with being a spouse, a mother, a daughter and friend, the result is unique to each publisher. Especially since there aren’t many magazines published specifically for this demographic – nobody to copycat! Bottom line, I think I’m ‘unique’, not an expert.

Does your niche provide good opportunities for revenues from advertising?

Definitely. Our ‘bread and butter’ is derived from advertising revenue, so I strive to build a long-term relationship with the advertiser, get to know their business, and guide them to properly market their business to our readers, not just ‘place an ad’.

Do you pursue advertising yourself, use a rep, or an ad marketplace?

Yes, yes and yes. Once you’ve been in sales and have began a business of your own, you live and breathe it. A business wouldn’t succeed without always searching for new opportunities.

What do you see as the biggest benefit to advertisers in magazines in general and in your magazine in particular?

There are many advantages to advertising in a magazine: the longevity of your advertisement (who doesn’t still have an old magazine in their bathroom?), the ability to select and target your market, the quality of colourful print, the simple fact that a reader chooses your magazine over others because they’re interested in reading it.

The largest advantage for advertisers by choosing to expose their business in Silver and Gold, is that we are locally focused – our readers appreciate this benefit and show it by emptying our racks every 3 to 5 days!

What is your circulation?

We currently reach over 72,000 Adult 55+ readers, between our print and online issues.

How often do you publish the magazine?

Bimonthly (Every 2 months)

Are there any restrictions on where you deliver Silver and Gold?

No. We currently focus on the Golden Horseshoe area but have subscribers all the way into Montreal, cottage country, Ontario, and Buffalo, NY.

Is your magazine available on any shopnewsstands?

No. Silver and Gold is placed in strategically-selected locations targeting our demographic market – not forced to readers by insertion in their residentially-delivered newspaper or through competitive and costly newsstands.

How do you market your magazine?

By every means possible! Special events, contests, online through our website and other sites, google adwords and adsense, magazine sites, even cold-calling and word-of-mouth. We are members of the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor Seniors’ Advisory Committee of Burlington, members of the OACAO (Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario) and IPAO (Independent Publisher’s Association of Ontario). All of which are great sources of information and contacts.

Where do you find your writers? Photographers?

A combination of them approaching us, with us searching them out. I strongly believe in giving our readers a taste of many topics, therefore we approach experts in their field (medical, travel, home décor, etc.) and have never had difficulty with finding great writers, photographers or topics! (knock on wood!).

Editorial mission?

To serve the Adult 55+ in an ethical, interesting and entertaining manner, by which they will always learn something new, receive good advice and guidance, feel connected, and complete each reading by feeling good about what they just read.

How would you describe your magazine's editorial style?

Uplifting! You will not read about cremation companies or funeral homes in Silver and Gold. Our Adult 55+ group is a vibrant one, they deserve to enjoy their lives to the fullest and we strive to keep them moving, involved and informed.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to content?

None. Although our articles are typically shorter as we offer larger text, our readers consistently respond positively to this. There isn’t a shortage of topics or direction.

Do you have a website?

Yes, at http://www.sngmagazine.com

Is the content of your magazine available on-line?

We publish each current issue online through our website. Just click on the “Read Online” button to flip our pages!

Has the Internet helped you with your subscription sales?

Somewhat. Our target audience has varied micrographics within it, many which prefer not to read magazines online. Having the magazine on-hand has always proven more successful in growing subscriptions.

With the internet being touted as a resource for information, how are you faring in terms of competition with the Internet and what challenges do you face?

We don’t consider we have competition per say. There has yet to be another magazine with the advantages Silver and Gold offers our readers. The future’s bright!

How long did it take before your publication began to see a profit?

By careful planning and implementation, it took Silver and Gold one year to break even and begin seeing profits. This number is ground-breaking in an untapped industry by which a brand needed to be exposed and properly marketed.

Did you seek government subsidies or outside investment when starting or after you began publication?

Every available venture was carefully sought out prior to publishing the first issue (part of due diligence), although government does not typically respond well or support small magazines’ vision. Outside investment was sourced and positively accomplished due to the nature and market targeted for the magazine.

What opportunities do you see for your magazine?

Silver and Gold will grow to become a National magazine, focusing on Adults 55+ and targeting them locally through their own cities and towns. Advertisers will be able to pick and choose their geographical regions. As the demographic ages, there will be a slight shift in the online version of Silver and Gold, whereas more readers will be interested in our events and ‘flipping the book’ through our website, however there will always be a large group of readers who prefer to sit quietly over tea (or wine) with Silver and Gold in hand…

What do you see as the biggest challenge in your niche industry over the next year?

The biggest challenge over the next year(s) will continue to be that of educating the thirty-something marketing executive, who still thinks Adults 55+ need to concentrate on buying walkers, downsizing, trying Viagra and wearing Depends undergarment. Industries are surprisingly unaware that Adults 55+ buy 73% of baby furniture, account for over 60% of remodeled homes and luxury travel, and over 50% of beer sales (have you seen a properly marketed beer commercial yet?).

In your opinion, what sets apart successful independent magazines from those that are not successful?

  • Repetition (it’s been done). Perhaps ego has a lot to do with this.
  • Lack of research
  • Lack of passion.

In general, what would your advice be to someone considering publication of their own magazine?

Research, research, research! And after you think you have learned everything there is to know about publishing, reconsider. You’ll have to pull your pants down for a lot more people than you had originally expected to (not literally, of course…) and it will take a lot longer than you expect in order to properly market your brand.