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What we can learn from magazine marketers.

More from that ever-interesting world of magazine marketing. I've been a subscriber to The New Yorker for many years (with lapses, however; I remember driving all over greater Virginia Beach searching for the final installment of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" one of the times I let the sub expire).

Currently, I just received a second notice for an October expire date. I never believe in "reminding" the subscriber of past notices (lest you reinforce a tentative decision not to renew), and this one does say, "As yet, however, we've had no response to our previous notice." Nevertheless, it's an excellent piece.

The envelope shouts, RENEWAL NOTICE, which is OK, since at this point you're selling to the converted.

What I don't like is the price offer, or rather how it's handled. The New Yorker is definitely what my old friend Van Sternburgh, once publisher of Medical Hotline, liked to call the "Hard-Butt School of Marketing" (actually he didn't say "butt," but this is a family newsletter).

"Our newsletter costs $242 and is worth every dime," Sternburgh would have it. Hard offer, no discounts, cash on the barrelhead.

The current price for The New Yorker is $46. Period. * So I was pleased to see my renewal offer is for $34.95, with an option for two years at $64.95.

But while there is a per-issue price noted, nowhere on the piece is the regular price even mentioned. How can they miss what I strongly believe is the best renewal offer you can make?

RENEW NOW AND PAY LESS THAN NEW SUBSCRIBERS PAY

Don't ever miss this chance. I've delayed a price increase on renewals for a year (after putting it into effect for new subs) just so I could make this offer.

Kudos to Family Circle and Women's Day

I've written here that my daughter, who has disabilities, recently moved to a group home and, because she likes magazines, I subscribed to a number of them for her. Her house manager forwarded me some mail she'd already received, and I was surprised to see notices from Family Circle and Women's Day. "What's this about?" I wondered. "I paid for the longest term they offered."

Hats off to Dan Capell of Capell's Circulation Report, who counsels, "Never miss the opportunity to ask for an advance renewal." I think he even extends that advice to every contact you make with a subscriber--in the mail or on the telephone.

Both magazines sent a "housewarming gift."

"Now that you are settling into you new home, you'll enjoy Family Circle even more."

And from Women's Day, "Congratulations on your move! And welcome to your new home."

Both titles really want to build that rate base, so they're practically giving away the year's extension: 15 issues of FC for $9.97, 17 issues of WD for $5.00

Amazingly, to me, both are willing to accept unpaid renewals. How can you possibly make a dime starting a billing series for a $5.00 advance renewal order?

I noted with interest that the Women's Day order form includes the now-familiar boilerplate, "Occasionally we give permission to qualified organizations to mail to our subscribers." But I hadn't often noticed two options:

--Yes, include me

--No, I'm not interested.

Another advance renewal offer

My wife received an early renewal offer (November expire) from Bon Appetit magazine. Without concerning myself with how a college bookstore manager qualifies for a Professional Rate discount, I see that they are eager enough to keep her to offer up to 36 more issues at $1.00 each.

And even the one-year, $12 deal includes "Two Special Issues" and a gift cookbook.

Perhaps only direct marketing cynics like myself wonder if the special issues--"The Collector's Edition" and "The Restaurant Issue" are actually "extra" or "bonus" issues or just two issues normally occuring during the year's term of a subscription.

Newsletter variations

But no matter. Newsletter marketers can profitably tout "Our annual industry overview" or "Our annual salary survey" as "Special Issues" even if they are regularly published every year.

Newsletter publishers continue to tell me it's harder and harder to get a new sub into the house, so perhaps we can learn from the magazine publishers that it's worthwhile to do almost anything to retain and extend one once you have it.

The newsletter variation on the "Welcome to your new home" approach is often, "Congratulations on your decision to subscribe to The Widget Letter. Why not follow that smart move by locking in our current prices for an additional year?"

But I'd certainly avoid the "Bill me" option on rock-bottom price offers.

And, as in the case of the offers made to Paul Swift, watch out not to make simultaneous offers with significant price differentials.

* Or so I thought. Paul Swift just told me he received a New Yorker renewal notice this month, addressed to the coded "Zap Swift," for $49.95, with a two year offer of $79.95. But he said he wasn't envious of my lower offer because, simultaneously at the same address, "P. Swift" received a Preferred Professional Discount offer. Cover price $193.70, professional rate $25.00, two years $45.00. Paul said he's retiring "Zap" in favor of "P."--for a two-year savings of $26.95
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Title Annotation:DM Notebook
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Aug 1, 2005
Words:880
Previous Article:Evan Hendricks, Privacy Times.
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