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10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Single Copy Sales

With the difficulties involved in getting your product to retail and selling through at a decent percentage it is easy to get discouraged. Publishers even think of walking away from the channel entirely, putting all their eggs into the baskets of subscriptions marketing or the internet. But there ARE things you can do, immediately, to improve your single copy sales. Here are a few of them:


    1. Put the Product on the Cover. Whatever the topic covered by your special or general interest publication, that should be your cover image each and every issue. What do you see on the front of People magazine? People! Every successful computer magazine features a computer on its cover; a child magazine features a baby or child—not the parents, not the family, the child. Despite the widely-held belief that a person on the cover will increase sales, this is in fact not only the case. If the person is relevant to the topic—a fit person on a fitness magazine, a celebrity on a celebrity magazine—well and good. If not, you might find you are better served to leave the person off, and focus on whatever your product is.

    2. Test Cover Elements. Can you do an all-type cover? Do “concept” covers work for you? Should your cover lines be slanted or straight, serif or sans serif? All these elements can, and should, be tested. Test with newsstand splits or a simple on line survey, but test early and often for newsstand success.

    4. Analyze Sales Trends. The single best tool you have for creating your newsstand strategy is your own sales information. Is your category gaining or losing? Is your titles’ sales going in the same direction or is it at variance? Do you find the same trends through all channels, or do you have one wholesaler, one block, one distribution channel whose trend is at variance to your overall trend? By analyzing these metrics, you identify both challenges and opportunities in your distribution channel. Make yourself aware of your own sales trends, and plan your response accordingly.

    5. Expand Specialty. There are opportunities available in specialty today that were not available in previous years: retail chains just beginning to carry magazines, new telemarketing resources, new possibilities for using your web presence to develop retail partnerships. Be aware of these opportunities, and take advantage of them.

    6. Remember International. Many publishers avoid international under the impression that it is more expensive, less profitable, than domestic. This is often not the case. Since international retailers do not require a separate RDA payment the remit to you can be higher than through other sources. Many international wholesalers pay the freight overseas, which means that you only have to pay to get your publication to the freight forwarder. And since the international wholesaler is picking up the freight, they tend to be careful about ordering too many copies, so your unsolds will often be lower than they are in domestic channels.

    7. Create Incentives. If you are being pressed to increase your discount, and are considering doing so, it might make sense to do it in such a way that you are more confident of getting some return on this investment. Perhaps your wholesaler group would consider linking your extra point or two to a promotions program or a sales incentive. Incentives can also be considered in retailer partnerships, or even as sweeps or contest to the readers to pull the product through the register at retail level.

    8. Add Value. While we’re starting to see more price resistance at the retail level, we’re still finding that the newsstand browser prefers greater value to a lower price. So if you have a choice between reducing your price a dollar and adding another signature to your magazine, go with the latter. There are few things more vital to your newsstand sales than the size of your magazine, or the “thud” factor. 

    9. Raise Your Price. Conversely, if your choice is between reducing the size of the magazine and raising the price a dollar, raise the price. You will lose some sales—perhaps not permanently, however, as price resistance tends to wear off over time. Unless you are raising the price past your “avalanche point”—the point at which the increase in revenue does not offset the loss in sale—the increase in revenue will allow you to consider a few luxuries such as increasing book size, improving covers, or adding value in some other way.

    10. Promote. If you find that there are key retailers in which your competition sells well but you can’t crack, it might make sense to promote. Doing so will enable you to gain entry into these key outlets, and if your sales are strong, you can expect to maintain distribution therein.

    11. Polybag. Do you have tips booklets, CDs or DVDs, or other editorial products of special value to the reader? Consider bagging them to your magazine and up-pricing. You might find you can increase sales and revenue by so doing.


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