Derek is joined today by Kevin Thompson of Open-Look, a niche market publishing company. Join them as they discuss more about Open-Look and Kevin’s journey which all started in 2010.
- Open-Look is a niche market publishing company predominantly digital but also in hard copy.
- Kevin started his journey in the Philippines back in 2010. He was originally from Southern California but he was transferred to Cebu to help build an advertising sales team for a niche publisher in the US.
- He did that for two years and he saw an opportunity to expand and provide those services to different publishers.
- Kevin noted the progress and changes in Cebu since he first arrived in the Philippines.
- According to Kevin, content generation is being offshored nowadays. He also mentioned that there’s still a very viable market in niche markets.
- Kevin said that “Everybody has a semi misconception about publishing, which people believe is really struggling and that magazines are dying and will be taken over by the web”.
- They also briefly talked about SEO rankings and its importance to some companies.
- They touched on the evolution of the industry and how it is coping with the changing needs of people.
- Kevin discussed how they hire the right people because there aren’t many people in the Philippines with specific magazine experience.
- Nowadays, it’s really common for publishers to offer both the traditional print hard copy as well as some form of a digital publication.
- According to Kevin, Cebu city has exploded now in terms of progress.
- Kevin mentioned that the Filipino culture made his transition in the Philippines so much easier.
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode number 124. So today, we are joined by Kevin Thompson of Open-Look, it’s a magazine publishing company. I said that really bad but basically it’s a niche market publishing company predominantly digital but also in hard copy. Really interesting story of Kevin being sent over here from California in 2010 and his journey, since then down in Cebu in the Philippines. Within the context of obviously the media magazine sector which is going through so much change especially in that period of 2010 until now. So really interesting conversation. I’m sure you will enjoy if you want any of the show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/124. Enjoy.
Derek: Hi and welcome back everybody. Today we’re joined by Kevin Thompson of Open-Look which is a niche publishing agency here down in Cebu in the Philippines. Hi Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: Hey Derek I’m doing well thanks for having me today.
Derek: A pleasure. A pleasure. So I want to. I’m sort of interested by your model. It’s sort of a road to be a traditional underserviced sort of vertical. But you know it’s blending kind of hard copy magazines with the sort of back end production. So it would be really interesting to get your insight into exactly what you do. I suppose initially Kevin do you mind just introducing yourself and how you came to be here in the Philippines.
Kevin: Yeah absolutely. So I’m originally from Southern California in the US and was moved and I moved out here to Cebu City back in 2010. At that time I was working with a company that started an office out here and was tasked to come out here and help build an advertising sales team for a niche publisher in the US actually. I did that for two years and kind of saw an opportunity to branch off and expand and provide these services to different publishers. At that time, the company that brought me out here we were just an offshore model as opposed to outsourcing. So saw an opportunity like I said to service some, some other publishers out there and more of an offshore, in an outsourcing (excuse me) model.
Derek: Right. Yeah. And just to sort of clarify it is all hard copy magazine publishing kind of products, is that right?
Kevin: Not particularly no. Nowadays you know it’s really common for publishers to be offering both the traditional print hard copy as well as some form of a digital publication. So with technology nowadays those files translate very well to a printed format and then it really easy to upload and turn in digital
Derek: Right, and just to rewind a little bit. And I suppose on a personal level you were sent out from Southern California to Cebu City. What did you think coming over here? And like Manila. I’m a long way in eight years could I imagine Cebu a pretty kind of basic place back in 2010 was it?
Kevin: Oh my goodness, man the city itself has exploded you know. And when I first came out here I’ve never really traveled much I can’t say I’ve really been much out of spent on any, any amount of time outside of Southern California. So, you know there is there is definitely some, some shock a little bit. There was some shock value I must say when I first came but you know one of the things I love most about the Philippines in general is just the culture is so, so accommodating. You know it’s really hard not to get welcomed in the first moment. So it really made that transition really nice.
Derek: Yeah. And you’ve seen it grow a lot then, is it?
Kevin: Oh yeah.
Derek: How do you see the growth? What are examples of obvious growth?
Kevin: I mean just from, from the business perspective. You know in terms of the buildings the actual physical buildings I mean these things are growing up like weeds. It seems like every time you turn around there’s a new you know business building that’s getting, getting put up and then of course the residential side of that you know and all the retail the malls and everything. I mean the city has really expanded in the last eight years very noticeably.
Derek: It’s incredible. And you know that that reflects in the country generally, is it? Because there is for the listings out there a 6 to 8 percent annual growth rate sustained year on year. So there’s this really quite incredible growth and you do see that you see that in the business parks, in the restaurants and it’s just really trucking ahead.
Kevin: Yeah definitely.
Derek: And why Cebu then? Why did your guy send you there? And did you then consider your future moves in reference to Manila or Cebu?. Or was it just that you know that’s how it happened?
Kevin: Kind of like, kind of how it happened. You know we were working with a company that sent us out here. And that’s where they got started. So we were familiar. You know I had already been stationed here at that time for about two years. So it just kind of made sense real easy. We kicked around ideas of other locations. But you know and as we expand and continue to grow the business we’re definitely considering things like you know other, other areas of the Philippines. But it was kind of just one of those things where Cebu we were here and just made sense.
Derek: Right, and then, good and then so niche or Niche media production is it or publishing. Can you explain I suppose the background of that industry and what your, I suppose the initial employers and what you saw was the opportunity to get that done here and sort of back in the States.
Kevin: Yes. You know, so simply put you know the Niche Publishers are really, really focused content in to a specific market of course right. So I mean that can vary between you know the stuff we do for example is really business the business having we kind of found a road in there and focused there and it’s. It’s kind of an under serviced industry from this type of model meaning you know the offshore and outsourcing model you know traditionally back home in the States you know you have the publishers that just work in a traditional publishing house and they’ve got all their employees in-house. However there is that freelance element. However it’s, it’s much more close you know to where it’s typically. Networking throughout the industry you know you’ll meet people that can that can overlap into a couple of different verticals and things of that. But from more of the traditional kind of BPO and offshore and outsourcing model there’s not really many people that are specifically catering to the niche industry the magazine industry specifically. So you know it was something that you know the previous company we were working with that it was a business move for, for them to, to transition and build this model. The owner was it was really big believer in outsourcing. So just saw the opportunity and kind of like I said the industry being under serviced.
Derek: It is interesting because it’s there’s a contrast in the content generation generally I think in the last eight years just exploded as an edge in our ever lower quality content for their websites. But, but you have found a niche where you know within the sort of sector of content you’re finding a high value niche that is underserviced and the service. It’s kind of happening I suppose to see that there are still kind of high value niches that need servicing them and there’s a business opportunity there.
Kevin: There are Yeah and you do hit on a good point right. You are seeing the content generation being explored a lot a little bit more heavily you know as a as a singular piece of the publishing spectrum I guess you could call it. You are seeing some of that content generation being, being offshored and things like that. No but it’s the other. The other point you make is. There’s still a very viable market in these niche markets. You know everybody is a semi misconception about publishing is really struggling in and you know magazines are dying and going away and going to be taken over by the web and you know it’s, it’s not as true as you’d seen. It’s definitely a different industry from when I got first into it you know 10 12 years ago. With the expansion in technology and everything but with the right niches and everything you know I mean there’s, there’s it’s still a very viable industry and still growing in many areas of it.
Derek: Yeah, well I mean that is interesting isn’t it because the whatever they called the big publishers of the magazines, the newspapers a lot of them really have struggled in their home to change their business completely. But are you seeing resilience and how exactly does it fit in. Because I suppose as you mentioned like your magazines are kind of hard copy but then also expanding on the web as well. Do you evolve or it’s not just an old man that is dying it is just evolving.
Kevin: It’s definitely evolving you know and what that’s going to look like over the next two years I think is still a little bit to be determined. You know you mentioned newspapers for example. So in and prior to that you touched on the content. So you know with the technology nowadays when you’re talking about current events and trends and things of that sort. You get breaking news on your smartphone nowadays as quickly as it breaks you know between the social media or a different applications. So those industries are really powerful you know so from the content standpoint it’s important to get A. that targeted audience you know so that you can get them more relevant information for whatever it may be their hobbies their interests their professions. But you know it’s definitely there is when I first got into publishing you were kind of starting to see the end of just being able to produce simply a magazine and that’s it. So you know the publishers that you’re seeing are doing the best are finding multiple ways to deliver this content. Finding more than just a traditional you know article in a magazine these days to provide to people there’s more there’s more that can come with it you know data is something that’s really playing a major role in publishing nowadays to the point where you’re almost seeing some publishers for lack of a better explanation turning to more of like a marketing agency almost you know the magazine is just one vehicle to help people get their messages out you know and things like that. So you’re seeing almost kind of a marketing aspect for businesses as well as just delivering content these days.
Derek: Yeah. There’s so much crossovers amount, I suppose to a degree, yeah it could be a marketing function or a PR function. But also I was actually going to ask you in terms of the kind of a lot of the content that we were previously talking about is for an SEO to drive and get Google noticing. Do you also work that into your or isn’t there an expectation that if magazines go online it’s kind of old for Google SEO monster or is it sort of remaining a bit more pure from that.
Kevin: You’ve got both aspects of it I can’t say that we are very heavy into that SEO angle and marketing online you know we do some web based work. But I would not consider that as a core function of us and in many cases these publishers are. There are so many resources out there to help it and do it on a smaller scale. Now that the publishers that really understand that model and are able to keep up with you know it’s an ever changing function in a way you know to really stay at the top of your SEO rankings and things of that sort. So the guys that really understand it plays a much bigger role in theirs and they definitely see the rewards from it. You know as well but I wouldn’t necessarily consider it as a as a do or die type of thing. It’s something definitely to give attention to. You know but there are there are ways to to kind of get around it a little bit and not have it be a focal point for your business model.
Derek: Right. Is it a big industry because you know funnily enough, I have been creating our consultation document which is about 60,000 words and is extending over 120 pages and I have been trying to get this published in a sort of magazine cum textbook layout with you know nice headers and information boxes and things like that. No one seems to have the skills and it’s been incredibly difficult to find either an agency or a contract that actually seems to have that skill set. So, I will talk to you after this. But how does it work? Do you find that they have quite great skills? And I suppose relevant to that how do you source your team your members. Are you generally taking pretty green people and turning them up in the, in the industry
Kevin: Yes for specifically for magazines. Yes. You hit on it. And there’s not a lot of people out here that have specific magazine experience. You and I we do we do struggle to find just the cookie cutter magazine designer for lack of a better word if you want to call it that. You know there is definitely a training element that that we have to invest in our people. You know so we look for you know traditional graphic designers, people that are very familiar with, with you know graphic design tools and things of that sort. And then can use that ability skill set talent and kind of.patch in the, the magazine side of things. You know it’s different when it comes to design. You know because you think of a designer or a graphic artist as somebody who’s really creative and has the ability to kind of use work on a clean slate. However you know with a, with a magazine there’s as many magazines out there that have an established identity. So it’s really important for them to maintain a consistent look in everything to really reach their audiences the way that they want to. So you know you kind of have some limitations in how creative you can get and you know. So it’s, it’s really interesting from that element where you’re really trying to take these creative minds that you can just think up these amazing ideas but they have some slight parameters that they have to work into in order to properly cater to the audiences for the magazine.
Derek: It kind of a, sorry. It’s kind of a fascinating sector is not just ring dabbling in it because actually I’ve been trying to do it myself. You kind of bound by you need a bit of creativity for it to look good but then you need to love a structure for it to be uniform throughout the thing. So, it’s fascinating.
Kevin: Yeah it was really eye opening for me. You know my background in sales that I had limited exposure prior to, to you know Open-Look of the design element. So I really dug in over the last few years and it’s learned a lot. I’ve got a new respect for the designers I’ve worked with over the years for the magazine. I have to apologize to a few of them even.
Derek: Imagine I imagine that we don’t go too far down this rabbit hole. But it’s a very different process to set up that the initial template to then kind of reproducing them and getting the content with a template is that right? Is that like a different kind of team or skill set?
Kevin: Not necessarily but it takes a back and forth and we use the best term right. Could you do kind of work on it on a fairly set template. So at that point you know it’s really you know it takes a couple of revisions of going back and forth and really getting down that template. But then once you do that it’s, it’s fairly I won’t say automatic because all upset my team. It’s much more manageable I’ll say at that point.
Derek: Fantastic. So Kevin we’re going to get you back for another episode and we’re going to deep dive into Open Look and specifically about your business and the difference skill sets it offers and the value proposition there in terms of outsourcing. But until then if people want to get in touch with you or Open-Look how can they do that?
Kevin: Best way would be there visiting our website at open-look.com or you can always email me at [email protected] are probably the two best ways.
Derek: Fantastic. OK. Amazing Thank you Kevin and all that will be in the show notes. And I look forward to speaking to you again.
Kevin: Yeah. Thanks Derek I appreciate it.
OK. That was Kevin Thompson of Open. Look if you want to get in touch with Kevin just check out our show notes, all the contact details there. You can find those at outsourceaccelerator.com/124. And of course if you want to contact us if you ask us anything then drop us an email to [email protected] accelerated.com. See you next time.