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10 Tips to Get the Most from Your Promotions Program

Your promotions program might be a significant portion of your single copy sales budget.  As such, it is essential that you use your promotions money in ways that build your sales reliably and systematically.  Too many publishers use their promotions money in a scatter shot sort of way and never really see the results.  Here are some things you can do to make sure that you get the most out of your promotions spend. 


  1. Promote Strong Issues.  There is sometimes the temptation to use promotions money to support an issue that is weak either seasonally or editorially.  It makes more sense to choose your seasonally and editorially strong issues to promote.  The sales you gain will be that much greater on an incremental basis, and they will give you a momentum that is likely to carry over to your weaker issues and lift them a bit as well.  In contrast, using your promotions money for your weak issues just doesn’t provide as great a percentage increase in sale, nor does it supply enough momentum to help the following issues.

  3. Promote in Strong Channels.  Likewise, it doesn’t make sense to try to build a weak channel with your promotions money.  Save your promotions spend for channels that already show promise, and make them even stronger.

  5. Promote at Point of Sale.  While there are plenty of ways to promote other than at the point of sale—on radio, in posters, through bundle stuffers or retailer newsletters—nothing gives as much bang for the buck as does promotion at point of sale.  Magazine sales at retail is still an impulse business, and it is at the point of sale that the buying decision is made.  While seeing your magazine mentioned elsewhere might provide an additional impetus to buy—and by all means, do use all the PR and publicity at your disposal to get your latest issue mentioned everywhere possible—if the browser does not find your publication at point of sale, no purchase will be made.

  7. Leverage Promotion at Every Point in the Distribution Channel.  If you have a promotions program of any significant size coming up—whether it includes cash wraps or floor displays, media coverage or partnerships at the retail level—make sure that your distributors, wholesalers, and retailers are all informed.  They will be encouraged to know that you are supporting your product with promotions money, and if the promotions program warrants it might well give you additional support in terms of distribution increases, notification to their merchandisers, or mention in a trade newsletter.

  9. Promote Local Content.  If you have an article coming up about dude ranching near San Antonio or a special appearance by an editor to talk about children’s education in Minneapolis, make sure you let the local wholesaler know.  Put a starburst sticker on the cover to pull the sales through.  Notify the big book chains as well—they are likely to want to increase distribution for the issue.

  11. Front Load Promotions for a Launch.  If you spend your promotions money up front, you get the benefit of the distribution acquired thereby for all succeeding issues.  Why wait?

  13. Promote to Accomplish Specific Ends.  Use your promotions money to open new channels of distribution, to counteract the loss of outlets in important chains, to increase distribution for an important special issue.  Know why you are promoting and you are more likely to accomplish your end.

  15. Analyze Promotions Results.  Put your sales in a spreadsheet and look at the sales before the promoted issue, the sales of the promoted issue, and the subsequent sales.  Look at the cost of the promotion, the cost per copy sold, the percent increase in draw, sale, and number of outlets, and how much of that distribution and sale you were able to maintain subsequent to the promoted issue.  Amortize your costs over the issues affected and you might find that promotions break even more often than you anticipated.  Include subscription acquisition and contribution to rate base as factors and you may well find you come out ahead.  (Click here to buy an effective template for promotions analysis).

  17. Plan and Book Early.  August of the previous year is the time to plan your promotions strategy and start your bookings for the next year.  Wait too long and you might find that the promotions you want the most are those that are least available.

  19. Add Value to Promoted Issues.  If you intend to include a special section or polybagged premium in any of your issues this year, that is a good issue to promote.  The combination of premium placement and added value can create large sales leaps for your publication.


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