For me it’s simply unbelievable. No doubt, in our firm, we have always accepted personal and professional failures with a sense of challenge (they have always helped us learn and achieve greater heights). But it is for the first time that we are celebrating our failure... Yes, after going for a record-breaking first issue print run of over one lakh copies, over the last ten days we have been celebrating our failure to meet the market demand (of all the five editions) of the first two issues of The Sunday Indian!!! And believe me that’s great news. No, I don’t mean business-wise alone... it is great news for Indians on the whole.When we set out to start our media venture a year-and-a-half back, people from the world of media warned us. They said we weren’t media barons or industrialists. We were academicians and the best that academicians and intellectuals could take out were journals. Going to the market with mainstream magazines wasn’t our cup of tea. MBAs are meant for managing things – not to take up the role of journalists. They said our kind of intellect-driven content had no market. They said that the magazine business (especially the business magazine business) was already a shrinking pie and questioned why we wanted an additional portion from the same. We went ahead... And not only launched one, but two world-class business magazines – full of class and intellect – Business & Economy and 4Ps Business & Marketing. The ideal double attack fulfilled existing needs for high quality economy centric and marketing centric content and took our competition by surprise. And the rest as they say is history. One after the other, our issues became bestsellers as we kept bringing crucial issues of national interest to the forefront. Be it about our editions on the paralysed Parliament or the dysfunctional judiciary or the big commodity market scam... they all came from one common zeal, the zeal and passion to bring to our readers non-compromised high quality intelligent and incisive analysis.With the same zeal when we set out to start our news weekly, the warnings were similar again – though this time less sceptical. They said that business magazines were easier since we understood business but this was mainstream news and it required a different perspective et al. But we love challenges.When they warned us about launching one news weekly, we decided to do what nobody in the world had tried before. We decided to launch it in five different languages from day one!! Because launching one in English, we felt, could make us complacent... we knew we could do that easily! But the truth is behind all our confidence was the restlessness.. the restlessness to get market feedback, because that’s the real battleground. That’s where we love fighting, straight and clean. Once in the market, the big question that kept haunting us (despite all our positive market research reports) was will our readers like our experiments – with truth, if I may say so? Will they appreciate the completely new approach to making news enlightening and making it sharp and relevant. Will they like our constant endeavour to keep a message in all our sections? And finally will they accept a full-blooded mainstream news magazine from a house of academicians and management consultants?For the answer we didn’t have to wait long!! The first day itself when the magazine hit the stands we knew that we had hit bulls eye. By late evening it was tough to find a single vendor in Delhi, Mumbai as well as Kolkata who had even a single copy left in any language. Our distributors had overnight doubled their indent for the next issue of the Bangla and Gujarati editions and remarkably increased the indents of all the other ones. The second issue had similar feedback, yet my friends from Mumbai were getting desperate. Every vendor had sold out all the English copies on day one leaving them with the option of buying the Hindi copies, that too the last ones!!! Then started the letters and e-mails!! How bad does it feel to not print the letters after our most valued readers write them (so from the next issue we plan to increase the number of pages for the letters to try and accommodate as many as possible). The icing, however, was when I read a letter (addressed personally to me so it has not been printed) where my well-wisher said exactly what I started out with. He said that he was happy that for the first time, the media had indeed come out of the clutches of the media barons and industrialists giving him the hope that finally he could get unbiased, honest and intellectual contents. And since he had special faith in our abilities, he hoped that the same would be always made interesting and reader-friendly. I want to promise to my friends and all our readers, if that’s the faith being bestowed on us, don’t worry, we will not let anyone down!! The media is being redefined by Planman Media in front of your eyes and readers are lapping it up – leading to scarcity of a product that was never meant to be like any other commercially successful product! And that my friends, is great news for all of us Indians. It shows that the dumbing down of the Indian reader hasn’t been complete. There is still lots of hope. It goes on to show that people want quality, people want to be given intellectual respect, and that is great news for our experiments – with truth – and that’s why our failure to meet the market demand is something we are celebrating. You celebrate it too... and our increasing print runs will take care of the demand!!!
- 22 October 2006 |