NOW THAT THE INTERNET, the economy, and too many panicky decisions have eviscerated subscription sales, what can you do to stop circulation losses, rebuild audience, and respond to the new reality in advertising?

Several things…

6. Work your website

MOST PEOPLE LAND ON YOUR WEBSITE searching for information, not seeking a subscription. And it’s a mistake to think your editorial content sells itself. Evidence shows it does not.

YOU NEED TO SPARK INTEREST in a subscription the instant visitors arrive. And complete an entire sale before they leave. All in a scant few seconds.

5. Solve a problem

WHAT PROBLEM DOES YOUR MAGAZINE SOLVE? If you don’t know in a simple word or two or three, it’s unlikely you’ll ever succeed selling paid subscriptions online (or in print for that matter).

BUT IF YOU HAVE a fast, focused, Google-friendly answer to that question and turn it into an information app — one that offers a solution, performs a service, or creates an amusement — you can build a subscription sales machine with search marketing. 

4. Reinvent your offer

WHEN PRINT WAS KING, and finding interesting magazines meant overstaying your welcome at a newsstands, free issue offers ruled the world of subscription direct mail. Even deceptive it’s-free-but-only-if-you-remember-to-cancel-or-surprise!-you-just-bought-a-subscription-by-doing-nothing “soft” offers.

NOW WITH INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES and entire issues freely available online, soft offers are hard sells. To re-establish control, you must flip the script, stop the deception, and reengineer the dynamics of your offer in a world where “information wants to be free.”

3. Go vertical

THE 80/20 RULE applies to magazines and newspapers too. Most have a core audience that considers a subscription indispensable.

THESE SELECT GROUPS are ready, willing and able to pay the price for high-value content. And successful publishers know how to increase circulation income by catering to their most-dedicated readers.

2. Maximize subscriber revenue

GOOD MAGAZINES OPEN A WINDOW onto worlds readers experience at arm’s length…

GREAT MAGAZINES TEAR DOWN THE WALLS and take you there. Turning new subscribers into repeat buyers along the way. 

1. Deconstruct your creative

IF YOU ARE TRYING TO CREATE — or compete against — brilliant subscription marketing, don’t fight a losing battle. Deconstruct successful promotions. Uncover their secrets. And learn how to build circulation for yourself in the bargain.


Anonymous asked:

These were all good ideas! Any ideas for a non-profit association magazine? Our customer base is limited. Subscriptions are not mandatory for members with dues and the board has wanted to keep it this way.


Thank you. Yes, I might have some suggestions. Can you tell me more about your organization and its mission? Or the nature of your magazine?

  • Can members donate a complimentary subscription — whether their own or an additional subscription — to an individual outside the organization as a way of recruiting new or young members? This could help build a database of future membership candidates.

  • Could your magazine be provided in bulk to teachers and students as an education tool — as a way to learn more about your mission? Perhaps you could hire an educator to create ready-to-use lesson plans that school systems can adopt as part of their curriculum.

  • Would readers be interested in it separate from the organization? Perhaps 4-H and FFA groups could receive half-price or complimentary trial subscriptions as a way to foster future audiences.

  • Are there other groups who do not have a magazine who might be interested in adopting yours as their publication too? 

  • Can you test your magazine on newsstands as a one-off?

  • Could your magazine be a gift or bonus that comes with the purchase of a related for-profit product or service?

Given more info, I would be happy to help you explore things in greater detail—Richard

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