32 Tips for Boosting Circulation
While the magazine publishing model is facing multiple challenges, strong circulation numbers remain a priority. For many, circ figures are the best way to make a case to an advertiser. For others, subscriptions are the primary revenue source.
Companies successfully increasing circ in the current environment are positioning themselves well for future growth, and their strategies reveal much about what will prove successful in a post-recession economy. Here are insights and tactics from eight publishing executives who have continued to grow circulation while many others are losing subscribers.
Tips from … Bryan Welch,
publisher, Ogden Publications Inc.
Ogden Publications publishes the well-known alternative lifestyle and special interest magazines Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, Farm Collector and Motorcycle Classics, among others.
1. Realize that subject matter matters.
Publishers seeing growth right now are in markets that are either recession-resistant (e.g., food, cooking) or prone to growth when times are tough. Ogden's focus on farming and self-sustainable lifestyles is proving popular with audiences right now, Welch says (though he notes that his antique collector magazines are also doing well).
2. Consider each reader as a unique, long-term asset.
"My feeling is that many magazine publishers don't look at the circulation metrics in the way I think they should," Welch says. Ogden calculates the value of each subscriber based on a model that takes into account the life of a relationship, considered as a sort of business partnership. "On the average, [readers] are with us for many years, and so … when we go out to acquire new readers, we look [at it] in the same way we would the acquisition of a new business," he says. "Based on [that] lifetime model, we calculate the value of each new reader. Each magazine is different, but each has that threshold identified. What that means is that we are able, over time, to generate higher and higher renewal rates."