Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Clint Is In The House

January 11, 2012

Lots of meetings yesterday and today. Budget meetings and today we had a catered lunch from Rubio's to celebrate the launching of our Icons issue, which is at the printer.

For dessert, I invited two of our faithful readers, Dita and Lonnie Couch, to come by and tell us what they like about True West and what they don't like.

Last year I ran into Dita and Lonnie at Tom Aughteron's house and while chatting Lonnie admitted to me that he let his subscription to True West lapse several years ago. When I asked him why he told me it was because he "got tired of lists." This struck a chord with me because I felt we had wandered from our original path with history and were running too many sales driven lists. When Lonnie told me that he had recently re-subscribed because he likes our new (old) direction, I invited him to come in and meet the staff. I wanted our staff to see our readers and hear from them what they like and dislike (I, of course, tell them these things, but it's different when you actually hear someone say it).

Both of them were quite helpful. Dita had even taken notes for us. During our questioning, Lonnie said a very succinct thing. When asked about trail riding (we wanted to know if certain trails are more interesting than others) Lonnie replied, "It's not the trail, it's what happened on the trail."

In other words the history. It doesn't get any simpler, or profound, than that!

I have also been tabulating sell-thru stats for most of our covers going back 12 years. For the past two days I have been putting post-it-notes on each cover with the sell-thru percentages on them. The exercise is quite an eye opener. The highest selling covers feature, not surprisingly, the icons, like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Butch & Sundance, Custer, Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickok. Most have record sales. There are some exceptions. We did a "Is The Wyatt Earp Era Over?" cover and it was a dog, which probably says our readers don't want to talk about the era, they want us to tell them ABOUT the era (it's not the trail, it's what happened on the trail.)

Western movie stars do not work for us, with the notable exceptions of John Wayne and one cover on the movie Tombstone, with Val Kilmer as Doc and Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp on it.

In fact, the incredible popularity of John Wayne is jaw dropping. He defies gravity and all categories. When we were in Vegas for Cowboy Christmas, after about the 100th person mentioned The Duke I finally realized something I never really knew.

"John Wayne is way north of celebrity and somewhere just south of Jesus."

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