Tips and Insights on Choosing the Right Circulation Vendor
Inbox: During the vendor-selection process, did you solicit advice from any other publishers who were already outsourcing their operations?
Castle: ... We went to [an industry event] and came away with names of several different circulators which was very helpful to us in knowing that so many of these companies were outsourcing and not keeping that function in-house anymore. So it made [outsourcing] sound like a much more appealing process to us. We hadn’t looked at circulation outsourcing in a very long time, and I think that ... you need to look at the process of how a publication gets out the door pretty carefully at least every five years. Things change so quickly.
Inbox: Can you offer any insights into the process of negotiating with a circulation vendor?
Castle: It’s like any other business negotiation in that there’s always room for maneuvering and there’s always room for some give and take on both sides. If you have partners who really see the long-term advantage [to a relationship with you], there’s a little bit more willingness to work with you and to give and take. ... As far as the pricing we got in on some of these proposals, they were all over the board. From there you have to figure out why the prices are so much different. You have to think that there’s a fair market area out there for circulation/fulfillment vendors. But it’s really hard to define it down to comparing apples to apples.
Gardner: ... And that was an extraordinarily difficult thing for us to arrive at. What is the “value” of the vendor’s services for us?
Castle: ... For us, it is going to be more efficient, and we hope to be able to use company resources for other efforts like subscription marketing and audience development.