Patti Devine is managing director of the consulting firm Devine & Company. Her firm specializes in helping leaders in the publishing industry with customer retention, partnerships, and marketing project management. Before the founding of her company, Ms. Devine worked for Time Warner where she successfully managed the customer retention program for Time Magazine’s 4 million subscribers. Ms. Devine is also an adjunct professor of marketing at Fordham University where she teaches in the Graduate School of Business.
Q: What advice would you give to a publisher who wants to get involved in partnerships?
A: The first thing a publisher needs when they decide they want to get involved in partnerships is a good plan. It is imperative that they decide what companies they want to target and what they can offer a partner from their end. That said, the publisher and partner need to set clear goals based on the needs of the brand and from a budget perspective, and understand the internal resources they have available to them.
Q: What types of partnerships do you recommend the publishers pursue?
A: Each title is unique in their needs and the interests of their subscribers; however I’ve seen a number of pairings be very successful. Bundling with a product or service, up selling at the end of a transaction as well as retail are a few good ways to reach the consumer. Increasingly, many of the partnerships have a large online presence as opposed to utilizing phone calls. Finally, sponsorship programs are one more way to reach consumers. An example of this would be a cooking magazine sent to the top members of a grocery store loyalty program.
Q: What challenges should a publisher be aware of when pursuing partnerships?
A: A publisher has to realize that because each program is unique you have to communicate with your fulfillment house and often programs have to be set up manually in the beginning. It’s also important to communicate all aspects of the program to all your internal stakeholders. People dealing directly with the consumer need to first, be aware of the program and second, be educated and empowered to best serve the consumers. The other thing I’ll recommend is to clear everything with ABC and BPA in the event the publication is audited.
Q: What are the keys to making a partnership successful?
A: Communication. Communication. Communication. The lines of communication need to be open within the publication, with the partner and any other stakeholders that may have an interest in the partnership. Also, tenacity and following up on issues that may arise is key. A partnership person should have great selling ability but also have an eye for detail. Finally, much of the success of a partnership boils down to execution. Best-laid plans that are poorly executed often make an unsuccessful partnership. To avoid this make sure everyone you’re working with is on board with everything that you’re doing understands the goals of the publication and the partner.
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