When is five consecutive quarters of growth not enough? Right now in magazine publishing. To see real, sustained growth, there are three things every magazine publisher should do to keep readers and advertisers engaged.
1. Create Franchise Issues
Like most, at ASI we questioned every expense during the past recession, but there’s one thing we did not do: cut editorial staff. For Advantages, which is targeted toward salespeople, I asked our editors to really put themselves in our readers’ places. As a result, we upgraded our content, offering meatier stories with case studies on how industry salespeople were winning new business and getting clients to open up their wallets. We added a “salesperson of the year” franchise issue, beefed up coverage for our annual compensation issue, and added a “big ideas” issue filled with advice for salespeople.
Our sales reps then went to advertisers and told them if they could commit only to three issues per year, these new franchise issues were the ones they couldn’t afford to miss out on.
Advertising increased by more than double digits in all five of our publications and our magazines received a record number of awards—27—this year, from American Business Media, FOLIO: and ASBPE.
2. Provide ROI Tools
Ad buyers love knowing how their marketing efforts translate into sales. One key tool: Readex advertising effectiveness studies in selected issues. Salespeople can show their clients exactly how their ads rated against their competitors’ ads. For example, if the client wants people to take action, and the research shows that readers don’t, we compare their ad to one in which clients do–pointing out the differences in the call-to-action, and the relative appeal of the offers made.
Through our company’s research arm, we are also able to provide competitive intelligence showing how an advertiser compares in price, service quality, and average margin across all other category competitors. In addition, when a prospect questions print versus digital, we can point out that if his products are currently priced at a 30 percent premium, he will need the power of print to describe how his service and quality are worth the price.
3. Offer Value-Added Services
Every magazine publisher should be on the lookout for ways to get more money out of advertisers by providing out-of-the-box products and services. Here at ASI, we are in the process of implementing an Oracle CRM solution. We started researching CRM because we wanted to improve the quality of our 500,000+ database of prospects and customers. Giving reps a sophisticated CRM would give them a better way to manage their pipeline and keep in contact with their customers and prospects. Then we realized that we should sell this service to our advertisers, who have some of the same challenges as our own salespeople. Now we have several new products to sell at a very reasonable monthly price. We’re leveraging our existing sales force and product-support personnel, supporting our advertisers, and giving them more reasons to establish a solid relationship with us.
Richard Fairfield is publisher and EVP of marketing & user experience, for the Advertising Specialty Institute.