Business executives commonly use the phrase, "You’ve got to spend money to make money." That couldn’t be more true than when it refers to magazine marketing, which is often among the most understaffed and under-funded departments. As magazines become more multi-dimensional, marketing departments have to come up with new initiatives, and the money to support them.
Marketing, unlike sales, is hard to quantify;there are few metrics to demonstrate return on engagement. A simple way to establish yourself as an asset is by keeping upper management and other departments up to speed on what the marketing department is doing." The more everyone in the company knows what marketing is doing, the more respect the marketing department gets," says Mick Rucker, marketing director at Time Out New York. "The genesis for the lack of respect is the lack of understanding, so it’s really important to keep the channels open to let people know what you’re working on, how successful it was, what areas you missed and what you’re doing to correct things."
Rucker arranges half-hour mini-management meetings every Monday where edit, circulation, online, marketing and sales all get together to keep one another abreast on what’s going on, including client and sponsorship projects. He also sends out reports that include current sponsorship lists and pertinent figures like the number of subscriptions garnered through those sponsorships. "It doesn’t have to be intense but it does have to be regular," Rucker says.
William Gasperoni, marketing director at Dennis Publishing’s Blender, says he makes it clear to his staff as well as the sales staff that their goal is to come up with compelling programs so ad pages increase. Successful execution leads to being able to ask for more money. "Everybody says ‘it’s marketing, everything’s been done,’ but it is how you do it and how you present it that makes it compelling," he says.
Matt Duffy, vice president of marketing at IDG’s Computerworld, says tracking almost everything his department does with URLs justifies marketing investment. "When we do a direct mail or e-mail campaign, or place ads in the publications, we always have a URL that we direct people to so we can track how many people from that specific campaign went to the URL," says Duffy.
Boosting the Budget
Once management understands what you’re spending on, where you’ll save, and how much you’ll profit, they should be more willing to invest in the department. "With upper management it always comes down to money so you need to show them how you’ll save money," says Gasperoni. "If I’m doing a really big event initiative I need to show them how I will bring in advertisers to be able to merchandise them as they buy pages into this event, how I can do it, who I plan to go after, how I will bring them in, how the sales team will sell it and how in the end, it will make money and save money."
Find a way to use math to justify investments, according to Duffy, who says most publishers will go for it as long as you have some rationale. "If your boss is asking why did you spend $5,000 on a direct mail campaign," he says, "you can say you got 100 people to go to your media kit site and out of those 100 people, sales talked to 20 of them and we think that out of those 20 we’ll get at least one sale that’s worth more than $10,000." If the publisher steps in and argues that the sales staff does not generate a sale every 20 calls, the marketer is covered. "I say all I’m doing is delivering the people for you to sell to," says Duffy.
Research also helps. Although it can be costly, advertisers and clients want research figures that show what their ROI and return on engagement is. They want to know who your audience is and how they spend. Time Out New York has increased its research budget more than 50 percent for 2007. "With the combination of your own in-house research with your online research company and big MRI research, you can find a mix that is probably attainable no matter what your budget," says Rucker.
How to Ask for a Bigger Budget
Before you storm into the CEO’s office asking for more cash for new projects, keep these tips in mind.
- Communicate. If upper management is aware of projects, they may better understand your need for more money. "I know I raised some eyebrows with my budget request for next year," says Mike Rucker, marketing director at Time Out New York. "But I was able to back it by saying ‘here are the number of clients we have this year and here are the number of projects we need to put on for them.’"
- Cite Research. There is no better incentive than using numbers and facts to show management and advertisers what your readers want. Tight on cash? Try in-house research using internal lists or look into an online research company.
- Show them where you’ve saved. Savvy marketing tactics will pay off. Computerworld’s marketing department cut its number of print media kits in half this year and devoted more effort on the online media kits. The switch saved the company more than $10,000.
- Be Picky. Be sure to research new ideas before presenting them to the business heads. Most of your ideas will never get off the ground. Once you find a winner, do the research, figure out how you will actually execute it and put together a formal plan.