IN the age of disruption, it is publishing that has been one of the industries hardest hit by new technology, but Gold Coast entrepreneur Dan Richardson (pictured) could have found the successful business model that so many in this industry have searched for.

His health and fitness focussed business, Challenger Media Group, has hit the ground running since its launch in November 2015 and already boasts one of Australia's highest selling magazines.

Launching off the back of Lindy Fitness in November 2015 with co-founder and fitness model Lindy Olsen (pictured below), Challenger quickly acquired video production and print media assets to create a multi-channel media company.

Leveraging a highly-engaged audience from each of its channels, Challenger Media has so far lifted well above its weight in a competitive industry.

Richardson, who has a strong background in media and marketing, puts the company's early success down to engagement with its fans and partners in fitness and publishing.

"Challenger was created to disrupt the traditional approach to publishing and promoting fitness and health content within Australia," says Richardson.

"By adopting a channel-neutral approach to the development and distribution of the content produced, the business is far more agile and flexible than traditional print publishers.

"This ability to quickly launch and develop new integrated content products and campaigns is our biggest competitive advantage and something that creates real results for our consumers and advertisers alike."

Challenger soon signed its first commercial partner, Musashi Performance Nutrition, then acquired its foundation video content production client, World Gym Australia. It then bought Oxygen Magazine, of which Olsen is the editor-in-chief, and also Men's Muscle & Health Australia.

Through a relaunch of the magazines, a national partnership with Jetts Gyms and also Rustic Rabbit, plus improved relationships with newsagents, Oxygen Magazine in particular has secured a new lease on life - in July 2016 it improved newsstand sales by 30 per cent on the previous year.

As part of the relaunch, the team focused on three key areas:

  • The cover star - "We have a clear voice document and athlete document that we use to select the cover model."
  • Newsstand promotion - "We have a great relationship with our distributors. In the past, there has been some boring stuff around newsstand promotion, but we have put a lot of work into arranging new stand promos."
  • Leveraging social media channels - "In the lead up to an issue we create hype. We have a set formula for promoting our issue content and in the final week before it comes on sale we make a call to action."

Richardson cites Oxygen Magazine as a standout success from the past year.

"The print category as a whole and newsstand sales are declining and this shows that with some changes and some thought as to how you promote what you are all about, and what your brand is and how you interact with your audience, it can make a difference," says Richardson.

"What it does really well for us is that we can leverage all those people who are really engaged with the print magazine across our other channels. We are interested to see the role print magazines have within that, and in this category they are still exploding driven off the back of Instagram."

The business is much more than publishing though. For example, every Friday, Olsen does a live workout broadcast on social media, and once a month Challenger does a workout shoot in the studio with a live stream and Q&A.

The company interacts with influencers on social media, as well as hosts live events and workshops. The first was a 'covergirl' workshop that was attended by 20 aspiring fitness models.

"These events are a revenue centre for us now and it is something that publishers hadn't done in the past," says Richardson.

Since it was launched, Challenger has grown gross revenue an average of 83 per cent each month and that is expected to increase another 88 per cent in FY17.


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