Circ Day Panelists Talk Newsstand, Partnerships, Renewals
From working the newsstand in challenging times to creating partnerships that endure, speakers at Wednesday’s Circulation Day in New York City weighed in on the biggest issues facing circulators. The event, sponsored by the Direct Marketing Assocition, drew about 300 circ professionals.
With rising paper, postal and freight costs plaguing the industry, the time to right-size newsstand distribution models is now, said panelists at a morning session that featured professionals from Time Warner Retail, U.S. News & World Report, and Universal News. "The old method of putting out as many copies as a wholesaler will take just doesn’t work anymore," said Camille Pellino, newsstand director at U.S. News & World Report, during a session titled, "Working the Newsstand in Challenging Times."
As overall newsstand sales continue to fall in the newsweekly category, Pellino said she took a look last year at how to become more efficient. "Publishers have been pushed into a corner where you need to look at everything you can do to get costs down," she said. "So we took a hard look at where we were doing well and where we weren’t."
Pellino said U.S. News ended up lowering the number of copies it was giving to retailers selling an average of half a copy per issue. "We know where we sell and we know where we don’t," she said. "We know we’re not going to sell at Rite Aid and we know if we lower the draw or eliminate it completely, it won’t hurt us on our rate base."
Creating Partnerships that Last
Circulators must don their sales hats and hone their listening skills to create lasting partnerships, said participants in the panel discussion, "Creating Partnerships for Today and Tomorrow." "Partners don’t wake up one day and say I want to sell magazines," said Ernie Williams, associate consumer marketing director for Southern Progress Corp. "You have to remember that they have other things going on, and that people do business with people they like."
Panelists also suggested circulators find ways to comply with ABC partnership regulations without making compliance a chore for partners. "I make the ABC regulations clear to my partners, but I also make it clear that I will hold their hands through the process when necessary," said Williams.
Anne Marie O’Keefe, marketing manager for Enthusiast Subscription Media Group, recommended listening to partners to gain a better understanding of their needs. "You don’t want it to be such a process for them that they don’t want to renew. It helps to have a sense of humor and to devote enough time to each partner."
You’ve Got the Subscription, Now Get the Renewal
Offering premiums, color-coating renewal notices and using combo offers can help increase the chances that readers will renew their subscriptions when the time comes, said panelists speaking at the session, "Renewals: Beyond the Basics."
Jonathan Balangon, renewals manager at TV Guide, suggested using a generic renewal form to save money on printing costs, while Stacie Paradis, director of renewals, billing, gift and fulfillment at U.S. News & World Report, suggested using the same form, but changing the color to make it look different. "But using a generic series does work better on special interest publications," Paradis cautioned. "For the broader audience publications you may want to be a little more thoughtful."
Kim Miller, retention director for Time Inc., said pairing a strong-circulation magazine with a weaker one in a combo offer can often have success. She also said Time Inc. publication InStyle found success with premiums, offering a free make-up bag with renewals, while Real Simple found success in offering its readers, which often snip out recipes and other magazine items, an organizer for their clippings.