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Marketing Ideas For Selling Trade Journal And Print Magazine Subscriptions


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 08:49 AM

Marketing print magazines is difficult as you know, but magazine publishers refuse to give up.  

 

For trade pubs, they need to vet qualified subscribers who get the publication for free. There are rules they follow, such as every 3 years requesting updated info to see if they still qualify and/or want to continue to receive the pub.

 

All print magazines have subscription systems and renewal systems, and ways to target specific subscribers for fee or free.  They use subscription cards, online forms, newsletters...

 

Advertising on their websites is growing desperate because of ad blockers and the placement of ads.  Not every magazine can boast the traffic to even sell the ad space.

 

What methods of marketing for print publications do you see working?  What has failed?  

 

(This isn't a debate about the death of print, etc. The feedback is to help those who refuse to abandon ship.)



#2 EGOL

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 09:47 AM

I have subscribed to many of these magazines through a couple of professional careers and still receive a few of them today.

 

Some of them have been subsidized by major industries.  They have lived on lavish hand-outs from the leading companies in that industry for decades.  They have never had to "earn" their living.  Lately, during industry downturns their benefactors have cut them lose and now they are panickin'.  One in my industry has recently been soliciting me for help.  I can't really help them because I don't have surplus horsepower and then I can only help people who "get the web" because I can't changed "dyed-in-the-wool" attitudes and mentalities...  and I can't become a dedicated benefactor to such direct competitors.

 

Nobody is coming into these magazines from search because they are published behind registration walls or pay walls or in those fancy page-turning online apps that mimic the look and feel of a real magazine.  That's how you cut off your traffic from search, your traffic from social and your traffic from the curious passerby.  The few of these magazines that are open for anyone to view have authors and editors who write cute titles for their articles that are not going to be found in search. 

 

A lot of these mags are lead by a "professional publisher" or a "professional journalist" and who has never spent a day working in the industry.  They don't understand what the people in the industry want and need and are shooting in the dark, hoping to hit content ideas.  They are still trying to publish the propaganda of their former benefactors and the fat cats and their lobbyists were the only ones readin'.  The magazines are also written and edited by freelancers who receive one article gigs and have no perspective of the industry.  They can be great writers but they don't speak the industry language and don't have long-term perspective.   This worked great when the magazines were on the industry dole, it didn't matter if nobody read the articles, they were only concerned about getting the big industry point-of-view into print.  Now that they gotta make their living with their wits they realize that they really didn't have any readers.

 

Turning these magazines around, I believe, will require getting a group of experience industry people involved.  They will help the magazine develop a purpose, a content plan and a theme.  They will recruit industry leaders who can write centerpiece articles or be available for interviews where they advise on what relevant questions are of interest.   Then they need to get qualified people who know about search and social on their technical team.   All of this is going to upset the source of labor for producing the magazine and will probably make major changes to the staff. 

 

It will be a hard sell. 



#3 bobbb

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 10:35 AM

I'm not sure if this is on topic but it seems related.

 

I recently discover this magazine: theintercept.com (no connection) No ads. Articles seem well written with today's topics.  So how do they do it? Have no idea about their stats or readership. Can't seem to peg them down to an agenda (left,center,right) or even to a political or religious system. They just  seem anti. I don't recognise any of the writers except Glenn Greenwald. So how do they do it? Maybe they are building up a base then will start to charge. Are they being subsidised by some government agency? But Glenn Greenwald is a co-founder and I associate him with Edward Snowden.

 

Along the same line: The Reuters.com site has no ads. DW.de has no ads. No ads either for TV5Monde.com (french). So how do they all stay alive?

 

I can see DW=German state and TV5Monde=French state. The British state has ads (BBC) and so does the Canadian state (CBC/Radio Canada)



#4 EGOL

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 11:03 AM

I think that a lot of people and organizations can foot the bill for a website without worrying about the revenue that it might produce.  Their goal is to "get the word out".



#5 Black_Knight

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 11:22 AM

Magazine publishing is it's own biggest enemy.  So many of the publishers are rooted in the past, and firmly tied to goals and metrics that no longer apply today.  The foremost of these is the continued attachment to the size of readership, the volume of distribution.

 

The fact is that no publication ever, in the history of the world, has the 'readers' that Google do.  The most successful magazines ever, I mean the truly iconic things like 'Time' or 'National Geographic', have readership numbers in their prime that frankly would seem pathetic to today's digital, global properties.

 

Even to think, momentarily, about having enough traffic/readers to sell ad-space is something that should tell you to get out of the business entirely.

 

It isn't about the volume, the numbers.  Not anymore, and not for the past 17 years (when the dot-com bubble burst for exactly the same reason).  Because the Internet is as close as humanly imaginable to providing infinite ad-space.  There is always another page, more digital ink available.

 

The true metric today is meaning.

 

I don't care a jot about how many people visit your page, skim past the ads, barely read the main article, and are gone.

 

What matters is how precisely I can target a particular demographic or interest, a particular mindset or intent.  What matters is how much influence an ad in any given publication will have on those who see it.  That ties directly to how and why bloggers and vloggers are cashing in, while magazine publishers are sinking with barely a trace.

 

Magazine and print publishers are having the wrong conversations, and sometimes even worse, steering the right conversations into entirely the wrong direction.

 

You cannot sell the 'reach' of your publication against the reach of something like AdWords.  You will even struggle to sell it against the precise targeting of advertising on Adwords or Facebook, etc.  But at least you have some chance.  But what you can exploit is the very anonymity and facelessness of online advertising.  You can sell the depth of commitment and passion of any size of audience that have subscribed to a print magazine.

 

So, the way to market print magazines is to go deep instead of broad.  Go for depth of passion, and connection with a dedicated, identifiable audience, and most of all, demonstrate that depth.  In short, it's the age-old issue of quality over quantity.  Print is now the speciality, the boutique, exclusive, high-end product in advertising space (if understood and played correctly).  Be the high-end, low-volume product.



#6 glyn

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 01:54 PM

I think we have devolved to a shallow image based world, which as it conveniently requires little by way of qualifier save for your own cultural prejudices makes it less risky and easier to publish. Add in the requirement of efficiency and ROI and you see the effects everywhere from recording companies that want artists to have their blockbuster with the first album (instead of nurturing talent) to the one-hit campaign successes we see in the online world, and in commercial solutions that get touted. Online can get edited quickly (you will not find any of Google support documents with a first published date, and unlikely in waybackmachine) whereas offline demands a certain rigour. This is lost (excluding peer reviewed).

Typically you stumble upon something really worth reading online but in a magazine most of it is good.

Glyn.

Edited by glyn, 22 July 2016 - 01:56 PM.


#7 earlpearl

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 02:07 PM

I have subscribed to many of these magazines through a couple of professional careers and still receive a few of them today.

 

Some of them have been subsidized by major industries.  They have lived on lavish hand-outs from the leading companies in that industry for decades.  They have never had to "earn" their living.  Lately, during industry downturns their benefactors have cut them lose and now they are panickin'.  One in my industry has recently been soliciting me for help.  I can't really help them because I don't have surplus horsepower and then I can only help people who "get the web" because I can't changed "dyed-in-the-wool" attitudes and mentalities...  and I can't become a dedicated benefactor to such direct competitors.

 

Nobody is coming into these magazines from search because they are published behind registration walls or pay walls or in those fancy page-turning online apps that mimic the look and feel of a real magazine.  That's how you cut off your traffic from search, your traffic from social and your traffic from the curious passerby.  The few of these magazines that are open for anyone to view have authors and editors who write cute titles for their articles that are not going to be found in search. 

 

A lot of these mags are lead by a "professional publisher" or a "professional journalist" and who has never spent a day working in the industry.  They don't understand what the people in the industry want and need and are shooting in the dark, hoping to hit content ideas.  They are still trying to publish the propaganda of their former benefactors and the fat cats and their lobbyists were the only ones readin'.  The magazines are also written and edited by freelancers who receive one article gigs and have no perspective of the industry.  They can be great writers but they don't speak the industry language and don't have long-term perspective.   This worked great when the magazines were on the industry dole, it didn't matter if nobody read the articles, they were only concerned about getting the big industry point-of-view into print.  Now that they gotta make their living with their wits they realize that they really didn't have any readers.

 

Turning these magazines around, I believe, will require getting a group of experience industry people involved.  They will help the magazine develop a purpose, a content plan and a theme.  They will recruit industry leaders who can write centerpiece articles or be available for interviews where they advise on what relevant questions are of interest.   Then they need to get qualified people who know about search and social on their technical team.   All of this is going to upset the source of labor for producing the magazine and will probably make major changes to the staff. 

 

It will be a hard sell. 

 

Sorry Kim:  No suggestions or words of wisdom.  I was struck though by what EGOL wrote, all relative to some recent experiences.  I was searching for local business news of one sort or another, some of which reflected stories dating back roughly 30 years.  They had to do with commercial real estate, and I'll reference why in a bit.  I do know that a variety of those stories from that long ago were carried in local print news.  The only information I could find were from the Washington Post.  Stories from 30+ years ago.  Had to do some "deep research" from my perspective with a variety of search terms....but the Post kept coming up.  Interestingly I often found these old stories using what might be described as "link bait" titles today.  Nobody was using link bait in the 80's.  I ended up using phrases that reflected the descriptors used at those times.  The stories popped up.

 

There are print businesses that were around then and now.  Their info didn't pop up.  I assume its because they have paywalls/ have blocked access to the old stories or never digitized them in the first place.  There are also old print sources that are no longer around.  Some had great articles.  If the old issues are stored in a library somewhere there is old data.  Without libraries and since this hasn't been digitized or is behind a paywall or blocks search....it can't be found on the web.

 

As to the Washington Post.  Its slow but steady loss of readership, circulation, loss of ads, shrinkage of reporters etc has all been well documented.  I happen to know during the first decade of the 2000's they tried many many different things to stem these losses and tried many creative web strategies.   It wasn't from lack of trying and frankly a lot of smart people made valiant efforts with what were well thought out plans at the time.   But they didn't work or execute well.  So the Post has maintained open access a la EGOL's comments, but it still got killed financially. 

 

The world changed.

 

Back to real estate.  The topics reflected on old real estate activities, some going back to the decade of the 1980's way before the internet.   One source that has immense and remarkable data on these topics is a business called CoStar.  http://www.costar.com/  Its a commercial and multi family real estate data source.  Its sort of like the multiple listing system for residential real estate.

 

I know it pretty well.  I believe it started in the 80's as a single source data base of commercial properties in the DC area.  Around the US there were similar businesses doing the exact same thing.  Over the decades CoStar became the single major source of this data.  There were some brutal business battles between costar and other providers from other markets. 

 

One business became supreme.  Its a monopoly.  There are some other sources in the markets for this kind of data.  You can find them on the web.  They are amazingly peripheral and ill used.  I bet costar "allows them" to exist from a business perspective, as it protects the business' flank from anti trust efforts.

 

The feds have investigated costar as I recall.  They allow it to operate as is.  I guess its too small an entity in two tiny a niche to get the feds all riled up.  But it is a remarkable overwhelming monopoly  (and provides great but expensive data). 

 

In any case, CoStar certainly has articles that would have responded to my searches.  Unless they trashed all the old ones.  It covered all this information back then and for decades since. 

 

Everything is behind a paywall.  Of course who wants to read this "stuff".   Well people who work in the industry for one definite group.  They need the information to operate.  If you want to buy big old commercial or multifamily properties you probably need millions of $$ to do so.  You can afford to purchase the data, or you can use entities who already subscribe to costar and can access it.

 

If you live in the "boonies" costar probably doesn't cover properties in your areas but local realtors would have the data in the residential (and small commercial) data bases. 

 

CoStar can live and operate in this environment.  Its a monopoly. 

 

Anyway all that being said, and not having answers I thought both EGOL and Black_Knight wrote things that made a lot of sense.  I'll throw out something that isn't related to print, but it does get an entity to survive regardless of the fact that its readership is a weeny teeny miniscule drop in the bucket relative to google.-----YELP.

 

As I look at it, Yelp gets a lot of restaurant ads in the greater DC region, and I suppose other major markets where it focused it's attention  (Major US cities plus the East and West Coast Cities).  Google gets virtually nothing relatively speaking. 

 

I'm sure that restaurants in DC and other places like it get infinitely more traffic via google than yelp.  I don't have enough data to be sure, but from the data I've seen from restaurateurs, google delivers more traffic than does yelp...usually by a lot.  (not a big collection of data).

 

Yelp salespeople call endlessly.  Google never calls.  Google has subtly reduced traffic to restaurants with its monopolistic tricks....but restaurateurs are pretty oblivious.

 

Anyway, if you bother the hell out of people and refine your techniques on selling you can sell advertising.  At least yelp can.





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