8 Tips for Building a Profitable Custom Publishing Business
Since purchasing the company in 1999 from Cadmus Communications Corp., where she had been president since 1996, Diana Pohly has led The Pohly Company to a prominent place among marketing consultants. In 2004, Fortune Small Business and Winning Workplaces (a nonprofit organization promoting positive workplaces for small- to mid-sized businesses) named her one of America’s “Best Bosses” in recognition of her leadership skills. She is also a founding member, past co-chair and current board member of the Custom Publishing Council, an association dedicated to the custom publishing industry. Among The Pohly Company’s specialities is custom publishing; her firm has completed projects for such companies as Continental Airlines, UAW-GM, Coca-Cola and the Direct Marketing Association.
For Publishing Executive’s annual “Tips” issue, Pohly lends her expertise on building a profitable custom publishing business in a market that has become increasingly competitive the last several years.
“There are two very different consideration sets for traditional publishers interested in custom publishing. I would recommend one set of tips for [publishers] interested in reacting to requests from advertisers for more targeted advertising opportunities in the most cost-efficient and/or profitable way. And I would offer different tips for those [publishers] who may be interested in creating a profitable custom publishing capability as part of their ongoing business.
Custom Publishing to Meet Advertisers’ Needs
Let’s take the first option and assume a publisher wants to be able to react in a quality fashion to a valued advertiser that asks for a more targeted solution. Presumably this advertiser does not want to continue just running within the pages, and perhaps on the Web site, for a given magazine, and is requesting different options from the publisher.
Some tips for this scenario:
1. Be clear on objectives before starting. Why is the advertiser interested in targeting more specifically? Is this a strategic program or a tactical one? Short-term or long-term? What’s the budget, and who will approve the program? Are you certain that you cannot meet the advertiser’s needs with existing media vehicles that you have already? Getting alignment at the outset is the most critical step you can take if you want to be successful on both sides.