The new Brides.com is up and I know that won’t thrill most of you, but I’m proud to have helped on the site and the strategy as a consultant and I learned some good lessons from it. It was a fascinating challenge: Conde Nast owns the three big bridal magazines, Brides, Modern Bride, and Elegant Bride, but TheKnot.com has grown to be a potent brand in the field because the internet has proven to be incredibly useful to brides. When you think about it, it’s obvious: The bridal market get totally new consumers every 18 months and they are not necessarily drawn to legacy brands; they go to what works best for them — and today, that’s the internet because it has functionality and information and fellow brides with advice. When my former employer bought Modern Bride from Primedia, I helped get up a simple companion web site that was immediately successful. But it turns out that wasn’t big enough. So now there is a big bridal extravaganza up online: lush, local, and useful. It was built by some great friends, many of them former CondeNetters — two of whom are pictured in yesterday’s Times story on Conde and online: Susan Rerat and Theresa DiMasi.
So now to the lesson: Think of the biorhythms of Bridal media as a speeded-up version of the life cycle that the rest of media are going through. Other audiences may not flush out every 18 months, but the older readers do leave (or die) and the newer readers do have new choices and they don’t necessarily pay homage to legacy brands and value. What happened in bridal, with the shift online, is happening in all media, only quicker. I once said that media executives should look at the shrinkage of TV Guide’s audience and business as a warning to all: It’s the cash cow in the coal mine. Perhaps you can look at bridal as a more positive model: It’s no longer about just printing pretty pictures. It’s about creating the functionality to help people do what they want to do. If you do that, you might survive and succeed.