10 Ideas For Building Magazine Circulation

QR codes, database examination and partnering with agents can be used to secure customers, say FMA Day panelists.

BY T.J. RAPHAEL (www.audiencedevelopment.com)

As the media landscape continues to change, a circulator’s obligation to continue to grow a publication’s reach does not. In an effort to meet the challenges of the industry head on, speakers at the Fulfillment Management Association’s primary annual meeting, shared top strategies in the session.

Panelist Roy Beagley, director of publishing services for Tyson Associates; Mark Walter, consumer marketing director with American Express Publishing; and Peter Winn, director of planning and development with Bonnier, presented avenues for growing audience and customer bases through the digital and social realms as well as traditional mediums.

Platform Agnostic Opportunities


1. Price Expressions—Test per-issue pricing instead of full price. For example, try saying the deal is  $1 per issue instead of $12 for a year. This is something that could be even more useful for weeklies. Consumers are getting used to seeing per-issue pricing thanks to tablet stores.

2. QR Codes—They may not look good, but Beagley says there has been a 100 percent increase in usage year-over-year, and it’s getting better. Give instructions on using the code and explain what happens when they do—remember most people need to be guided.

3. Credit Card Collection—Walter recommends testing credit card payment options at the time of an order in every new business channel—provide a bonus offer if readers pay with a credit card. Consumers are more used to it than in the past and this can assist with renewals.

4. Two Years for the Price of One—Beagley says two years for the price of one almost always works. Premiums usually work because people love free offers.

5. Database Examination—Winn says that all sources need to be included in your database—digital, print, ancillary products, etc. This can help to improve new business efforts and secure renewals. Examining the database provides for smarter mail and email to be sent more efficiently, as well as improved cross promotion.

Circulation Channels


6. Partnering with Agents—Publishers should work with agents to test new programs. American Express Publishing’s Food & Wine magazine, for example, partnered with magazines.com—there was a subscription offer plus downloadable premium test conducted by the site.

7. Related Websites—Beyond looking for agents, consider websites that fit into your wheelhouse. On a website that sells school uniforms, Parenting ran banner ads that gave consumers a subscription to the magazine if they spent $30 or more on a uniform—11 issues for a value of $9.99.

8. Engagement—By seeking the opinion of customers, providing them exclusive offers, identifying longer-term subscribers and learning from past promotion problems a circulator can create engagement, which enhances and captures loyalty to a brand.

9. Retailers—By working with retailers, you can get your magazine in the hands of valued customers. Walter says to work with retailers and wholesalers on promotions that drive sales by offering coupons or cross promotions with other brands on sale in the store. Shoppers saved $4.00 when purchasing the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die AND Travel + Leisure. Barnes & Noble liked the campaign so much it extended its life beyond the initial terms.

10. Newsstand—Work with editors to make your covers work hard—use strong images and cover lines, rooflines, digits in cover lines and call-out bursts and buttons. Think beyond selling subscriptions to brand recognition, which could lead to a customer down the road.

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