Monetizing Your Partnership
The Week turned a nice little circulation building program with 25,000-member business association The Conference Board into a more intricate relationship that eventually included subscription sales, marketing events and ad sales for the associationâ€™s member magazine. And by getting its hooks into an elite association of high-level enterprise business executives, The Week effectively competed for advertising with business publications two to three-times its circulation.
The Conference Board is a membership organization of C-level executives that provides research and events on worldwide business trends. Members include Alcoa, TIAA-CREF, Dow Corning and McKinsey & Co. Justin Smith, president of The Week, knew a partnership would reap benefits if only for circulation.
â€śOur thinking was if we could get the top leaders of corporate America reading The Week itâ€™s going to have all sorts of benefits for us,â€ť says Smith. â€śThatâ€™s been the overall theme of our marketing strategyâ€”seeding the magazine among influentials and opinion leaders across the country.â€ť
Thanks to its apolitical positioning and aggregated, time-saving news format, The Week was accepted as a member benefit for The Conference Board. The initial partnership shipped about 6,000 copies of the magazine, with the costs, about 80 cents to a dollar each, eaten by The Week. When the three-month trial ended with members craving more issues, Smith knew he had a winnerâ€”and some leverage to shift the partnership into higher gear.
From there, The Conference Board agreed to pay $1 per issue, ultimately signing on for 20,000 copies. â€śBecause the nature of this audience was so elusive and so premium we decided to go for a heavily discounted, but allowable under ABC rules, bulk pricing structure,â€ť says Smith.
That elusive audience effectively gave The Commerce Board its first magazine partnership in its 90-year history, according to Smith. That put the magazine on a level with BusinessWeek, Fortune and Forbes, which also court an executive audience.
Smith also leveraged the deepening relationship into a marketing event program that attracts 250 high-level executives to small, panel-led discussion seminars across the country. Event sponsorships are bundled with display advertising schedules. Smith broadly estimates that the partnership resulted in $1 million in incremental ad revenue for 2006.
Finally, Smith arranged for The Weekâ€™s sales staff to take over sales responsibilities for The Conference Boardâ€™s member magazine Across the Board, which has a six-time frequency and 25,000 circulation.
Smith declined to reveal specifics on the pay-off except to say revenues are shared. â€śOur sales force is selling advertising in both magazines and packaging it together so you have this two-book opportunity against this very elusive target,â€ť he says.