Perspectives: Driving Revenue with Successful New Name Campaigns
John Wengler is Director of Circulation at Commonwealth Business Media, the leading provider of international trade, transportation and logistics information. John has enjoyed a 15 year career in magazine circulation, and has held positions with BPA, Chemical Week, Forbes, McGraw-Hill, and Niche Media, prior to joining CBM. A graduate of Fordham University, John resides in Lawrenceville, NJ with his wife and 3 daughters.
Q: You use a variety of tactics to persuade new name recipients to purchase your products. Can you share some of the lessons you learned in converting a new name to a sale?
A: Traditionally, circulators spend a tremendous amount of time selecting just the right lists for their campaign, only to send them a very generic piece of mail. With email marketing, we get a much greater response when we tailor the message to the audience. If I’m sending an email to the 2006 WidgetExpo attendees, I’ll let the recipient know I was there also. If that person got value from attending the event, they’re more likely to read my message. If I met a customer face-to-face and found out we went to the same college, I’d certainly let them know, as it establishes a common ground, and builds a familiarity and comfort level. I try to build that same familiarity with my e-marketing promotions.
We’ve also learned that despite the fact that much of our direct mail copy has been reduced to bullet points in a voucher, creativity and thoroughly descriptive copy work well for email marketing. Recipients are taking the time to read the entire piece, and visually appealing html graphics and images are producing higher response rates.
Q: Many of your products are high valued reference guides that range in price. From your depth of experience, what do you view are the major differences in going to market with these types of products versus a traditional trade publication?
A: The major difference between marketing our high-ticket items ($900 directories with both a print and online component) vs. our weekly magazines is that the sale has to be more consultative. A recipient who receives a 4 Free issue offer for our magazines can receive a few copies and decide whether they see enough value in that sample to pay for their full year’s subscription. The directory sale requires some personal attention – usually in the form of follow up calls, and an online demonstration to be sure that the customer has a thorough understanding of what these products can do for them. Email marketing is a great lead generator for these products. On recent email campaigns for one product, we even offered folks the opportunity to schedule the date and time of their product demo, and approx 83% of those that requested a demo, converted to a sale.
Q: In advertising your products to a new market, what have you learned about list selection?
A: Our magazines, directories and online products are 100% paid, so targeted list selection is critical. Step one is identifying prospects for whom we have proof that they’ve opened up their wallets and purchased a business product in the past. Whether it’s a book, or an association membership, or software, or conference attendance fee, we need to know they’ve seen value in the b-to-b marketplace and recognize that there is often a cost for doing business. Also back to my earlier point about establishing a comfort level or relationship with the promotion recipients, when targeting an association membership roster, we usually either include a quote from the association president endorsing the publication, or better yet, ask if they would agree to allow us to use their signature in the promotion – this reaps tremendous rewards!
Q: Your experiences within publishing and more specifically circulation are quite exhaustive. What happening in the marketplace now that you feel will have an impact on the future of publishing?
A: Most b-to-b publishers are focusing attention on attracting the younger, traditionally non-business-publication-reading generation. Whereas the older generation may still have a bookshelf "archive" of past issues of BusinessWeek, the new generation has BusinessWeekOnline bookmarked, and prefer to "Google" for information rather than flip thru past magazine issues. We recognize the need to embrace the web, make it a compliment to our print publications, and promote is as an integral part of our subscription packages.
More publishers are offering digital editions of their magazines and with technology already in place, many of these digital editions are as interactive as websites. I think that the younger readers will be more likely to see the value of business publications if the information is delivered online – the method they prefer. Plus many of the digital services such as Texterity automatically archive past issues for future research. Although digital editions are still relatively new, and never will completely replace traditional print magazines, the do put the publication online and offers some unique options for both subscribers and advertisers.
Q: If you weren’t a publishing professional, what would you likely be doing?
A: Late night talk show host