Active Marketing


The active lifestyle demographic is a lucrative and growing market. Because it encompasses such a wide variety of audiences, it offers you a huge range of marketing opportunities. As we’ve mentioned before, this demographic is often goal-driven, but these goals range as well. They span from simply getting in shape and living a healthy, active life, to endurance challenges and constantly pushing themselves, to achieving the next adrenaline rush. The active lifestyle demographic is also very loyal to the people and brands that help them achieve those goals, which is the very reason why you should target this audience. Prove that you are integral to their exercise regime and training and you’ll have a loyal reader, and a guaranteed audience for your advertisers.

Special Events

One way to get the attention of the active lifestyle demographic is to hold an event. Typical events include marathons, 5k or 10k, or charity walks. As we’re approaching the New Year, cash in on the resolution mindset of eating healthy, getting in shape and losing weight by sponsoring a “Get Fit” program for your community. Create a schedule of newspaper-hosted races and provide a training schedule a variety of levels — couch potato (beginner) to lapsed athlete (retrain those muscles!). Remember, an active lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with a well-balanced diet. Provide recipe and menu options as well to help people on their new training regime. Work with local grocery stores and restaurants to sponsor these menus. Encourage restaurants to offer a training menu to support the events and lifestyle. Also, work with various charities or groups to hold training and exercise events. This is a great way for people to make connections and network with your potential audience.

Get extreme! If extreme sports are big in your area, don’t ignore them! Host an annual extreme sports tournament to engage the adventurous type in your area. This is a young demographic, which can be hard for the newspaper to target, so this is a great way to reach out and make a connection.

Special Sections

Special sections are another great way to reach the active lifestyle demographic. And, again, there are several routes to go in — it all depends on your community and area. As suggested above, producing a training menu and exercise regime to go hand-in-hand with events is a great way to get the community involved. Look around you and see what is in your community and state. Don’t ignore the great outdoors and be seasonable! Offer guides to downhill and cross-country skiing, where are the best slopes in your vicinity? Is there a place to go white water rafting or just a nice leisurely canoe trip down the river? What are the best hiking locations, and don’t forget to list it by proficiency level (beginning, intermediate, advanced, extreme, etc.).

The active lifestyle encompasses sports enthusiasts as well. Explore the intermural sporting events in your area, basketball, soccer, baseball, and appeal to that audience. Give them as much attention as your provide school sports, they probably remember being the star of their high school sport team and would love rekindling that feeling. Also look at what action sports are popular in the area. Skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing are growing in popularity and acceptance, so offer something for them. Offer a seasonal publication focusing on these sports — where to catch the best waves, slopes, etc.

Probably the most popular, and what would lend itself most easily to a regular publication, is appealing to the healthy and active lifestyle demographic. This could be a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly publication — but we definitely recommend that you do it with an online and mobile component. This publication could encompass everything mentioned above and more. You’d wan to focus on the gyms and yoga studios in your area, but also pay attention to at-home exercises, or better yet, what to do to stay fit at an eight to five office job. As healthy is the motto here, also include healthy tips for eating, cleaning, overall lifestyle changes. These tips could be rated for different age or experience levels. Healthy lifestyle tips for the beginners, or for the middle aged trying to just get in shape. One example of this is Bloomington, Ind.’s INStride publication, produced by The Herald-Times.  I had the opportunity to talk to  Marketing Manager Brooke McCluskey about their special section, how it started and what it offered the community.

McCluskey said that Bloomington an artsy, athletic college town, which also happens to be one of the nation’s top retirement destinations. Yet The Herald-Times’ senior section was behind the times. The old-fashioned tab for people age 55-plus was jokingly known as “for those 105-plus” due to its obituary-style features and mortuary ads. Advertisers didn’t like it, and neither did the target audience.

So The Herald-Times commissioned students from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism to do a needs analysis for local seniors, baby boomers, health experts and fitness enthusiasts. They did in-person interviews, focus groups and surveys. The research indicated a need for a magazine-style health publication, full of bright modern images and helpful information, and easily found in the newspaper. Readers wanted an online place to connect with fitness friends. Community organizations wanted to share their numerous health events. Advertisers wanted to connect with people through free online chats.

INstride magazine and were born. The audience is fitness enthusiasts age 45-plus with a perceived age of 35 to 45 because they feel healthy and hip. The monthly magazine is 24 pages of fresh, cheerful information, about seven to 10 pages of which is created with the help of advertising partners. They have a panel of advertisers/experts who advise the content, including a bone and joint doctor, a YMCA executive, a sleep expert, a lifestyle coach and several others. Because the visual image of this piece is very important, photographers spend time with photo subjects — splashing in the pool, hitting the trails and capturing moments.

Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg serves as the “face” of the piece — he is a runner and in the right demographic — and a reporter does the day-to-day website maintenance. The website allows people to interact, upload photos, share calendar events and participate in live online chats.

Promotion was primarily done on public TV and radio, in print, and with posters/table-toppers at gyms, malls and doctor’s offices. The messages showed glowing middle-age people with uplifting messages about wellness. Event marketing was also key. INstride became the lead sponsor of six big community events targeted at families and women: three community run/bike/walks (where INstride had a team), a women’s business fair, a women’s clothing charity and a Heart Association gala. Facebook and Twitter are used to draw audience to live online chats, which also benefits the main news website.

Public reaction has been strong and positive. Cover models boast about being recognized all over town. The Herald-Times frequently sees online comments to INstride stories like, “Finally, some good news.” By treating potential advertisers as experts on the front end, requesting their input and advice, they jumped right on board for advertising packages. In 2009 this was one of the paper’s highest-revenue special products, and all but one advertiser renewed their annual contract for 2010.