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Consumer Reports outlines the "key drivers" of its longtime success.

As vice president of Consumers Union since 2000, John Sateja has overseen the circulation growth of first to a record-setting milestone, 1 million active paid subscribers in fewer than 5 years, and then to its current 2.8 million subscribers. He is now senior vice president.

At the recent SIPA conference in Washington, D.C., he outlined the 5 "key drivers" of Consumer Reports. We'd suggest using them to gauge, or audit, your own publishing enterprise.

1. Brand. CR has an 85 percent recognition rate among prospects--much higher than even its parent company, Consumers Union.

2. Unique content. No one offers better testing and analysis of hundreds--thousands over the years--of consumer products and services better than CR. The company buys all of the products it tests and reports on--no freebies. (Once testing is completed employees are then able to purchase the products.)

CR accepts no advertising whatsoever.

3. Presentation and delivery. CR constantly tests and tinkers with its graphics presentation. "We're a testing company after all," Sateja says. "Test, test, test. And we're careful not to be too flashy." Their subscribers want the information presented to them in a straightforward manner, implying that readers want their subscription dollar going to the company's famous testing laboratories--and not to the "flashy" design advertisers would prefer.

4. Marketing and PR. "DM is still very strong for us," Sateja says. They constantly massage their mailing lists. Also, CR regularly sends out press releases on its test findings, which the mass media invariably run with.

5. Loyal customer base. That, of course, equals high renewal rates. "Our brand spells out trust in the marketplace, which is especially timely in today's market," Sateja says. "We invest millions of dollars in our content development, and that's what helps make us unique."

Consumer Reports, 101 Truman Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10703, 914-378-2484,
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Title Annotation:Management
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jun 19, 2007
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