Why Kids Read Highlights in the Waiting Room at the Doctor’s Office

Feb 25, 2020

There’s a reason you associate Highlights magazine with the doctor’s office. 

In the 1950s, the children’s publication known for Goofus and Gallant and Hidden Pictures was in crisis. For the last decade, the magazine had relied on door-to-door sales, which had slowly dwindled

The company was losing subscribers and needed a new way to reach children — and their parents.

Highlights Looks to Waiting Rooms

When Garry Cleveland Myers Jr. took over the family business, he had a new idea for distribution. 

He created a plan to put sample copies of Highlights For Children in the waiting rooms of doctor’s and dentist’s offices nationwide. “There was a time when we were in virtually every doctor’s waiting room in the country,” current Highlights editor in chief Christine French Cully told Family Business magazine

The first issues of Highlights for Children, published in 1946.  

The move worked. Subscriptions have climbed steadily to more than 2.5 million over the years, successfully winning over new generations of young readers and parents with fond memories of the publication. 

Getting your products in front of potential customers is always a good thing. Companies do that all the time by showing up to a trade show or offering consultations.

What made Highlights’ waiting room trick so effective was that it reached customers when they could clearly see the benefits of the product.

Coupons and Inserts Fastrack Conversions

Families waiting for their turn to see the doctor were a captive audience, and kids and parents alike appreciated Highlights’ activities and educational features. Inserts in each issue made it easy for parents to sign up for a subscription when they got home or when the next birthday came around. 

Like the rest of the publishing industry, Highlights has adapted to new technologies and now offers multiple apps, a podcast and a tablet version of the magazine.

But waiting rooms remain a core part of the company’s marketing strategy. In fact, it’s even doubled down on the tactic in recent years, offering sample copies at mechanics and nail salons.  

Long story short: Getting your product or offering in front of customers is a good start. Go a step further by looking for ways to introduce it in settings that highlight its benefit or ultimate value.

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