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How to Optimize Your Publication

Posted on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 9:46 PM

Baiting your content hook to reel in ad dollars.

By William Dunkerley

Is your magazine functioning optimally in a business sense? Often when I audit the business functioning of a publication, I discover there is a fundamental flaw. If you rely upon advertising revenue, it is mandatory that you operate in a way that creates synergy between your editorial, advertising, and distribution functions.

Lamentably, in too many cases these functions operate too much like independent fiefdoms. If they are not interacting in consonance, if they are not working toward a unified goal, you are probably achieving suboptimal results.

Perhaps there might be some coordination between editorial and advertising so that ad sales can pitch what's in the forthcoming issue. And promotion of editorial content might be worked into subscription sales promotions. But that's not enough.

A Tried and Proven Plan

Take a look at this diagram:

The diagram shows an optimized schematic for how any ad-supported publication should operate.

The cycle starts with companies that have products and services to sell. Without them there obviously will be no advertising.

Next is your editorial product. It must be oriented toward attracting readers who will become good customers for the advertisers. An ivory-tower approach to content development that ignores this isn't helpful. The editorial product has to be positioned in recognition of where the ad money is.

Content is the bait that goes on the hook to achieve and sustain readership interest. It's what gets readers to look through your publication, and it's what gets them to remain subscribers.

If your hook isn't baited for the big fish with ad money, you are operating dysfunctionally. Serving the interests of readers who aren't going to buy isn't helpful.

The next step is the distribution. Subscription marketing is the key issue here. Just as editorial must be oriented toward sustaining the interest of the relevant buyers of products and services, circulation promotion is charged with the responsibility for targeting those same readers.

Some publishers believe acquiring any kind of audience will boost readership numbers and support their rate base. That strategy may have some short-term validity, but it will work against them in the long run.

If one drags in advertisers based on impressive readership numbers and their advertising bears insufficient fruit, sooner or later they'll curtail their advertising in the publication.

Conduct a Self-Audit

Use the above diagram as the basis of a self-audit. Are you operating in a way that uses this life cycle of ad dollars advantageously? Or are you wasting effort on activities that produce little synergy?

If you are looking for a way to improve the business performance of your magazine, getting your activities in line with this cycle should be a top priority.

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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