From the December 2009 issue of our newsletter, Let’s Grow. For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE
Which Magazines Belong In Your Media Plan?
If magazines are part of your media mix, how do you choose among them? Media kits contain a wealth of information — but deciphering them can be tricky. And sometimes, the information they omit is as important as the information they include. Evaluating the choices using the following criteria can help you buy the best media at the best price:
Your Market. Have as precise a picture as possible of your market, and measure the magazines you’re considering against that yardstick.
If you’re selling to consumers, what’s their median age? Median household income? Are they mostly female or male? What’s the average size of their yard? Do they primarily grow vegetables or perennials? If the magazines you’re considering don’t automatically provide this data, ask. Chances are, it’s available.
If you’re selling to businesses, know exactly which industry segments and job titles you want to reach. Publications that are audited will show the breakdown by industry, and sometimes by job title, on their audit statement.
Geographical Distribution. If you do especially well in specific geographic areas, it’s important to consider where the magazines you’re considering are strongest.
Audit statements provide a breakdown of distribution by state, which can be used to determine where a publication has the highest penetration. In addition, you may be able to get information on distribution by ABCD county classifications, where A is defined as a metropolitan area and D is defined as a rural one.
Editorial Environment. Review sample issues with your target audience in mind. How tightly does it match your market’s specific areas of interest? For instance, if you’re selling vegetables, don’t start with magazines that only talk about growing perennials.
Similar Advertisers. Review the ads in each publication carefully. If there’s lots of advertising, look for repeat ads by competitors. If a publication works for them, chances are good it can work for you.
However, if advertising is sparse, run away. Either results have been poor for other companies, or it’s a new publication – and unless you’re getting fabulous rates, you don’t want to be a guinea pig.
Distribution Methods. Consumer magazines are usually sold by subscription and/or via the newsstand. We always favor those that are primarily sold by subscription. Subscribers who have paid to receive each issue are generally more devoted and more responsive to advertising. Newsstand sales are usually impulse buys by those who have a casual interest in the subject, so advertising results tend to be less consistent.
Subscription sales are less common among business publications. Most business magazines are sent free on request to people in a particular industry.
Cost Per Thousand. Once you’ve narrowed the list of publications you’re considering, then it’s time to think about cost. The best way to compare magazines is by calculating the cost per thousand people each one reaches.
Be careful when calculating this figure, however. Many publications cite a huge “pass-along” readership, claiming that 3, 4 or even 10 people read each issue. These numbers are often greatly inflated. Make sure you’re calculating the cost per thousand based on the actual number of subscribers, or on the number of copies sold at the newsstand.
Selecting the most productive magazines takes time and research, but if you use the right criteria, determining which are likely to perform best for you doesn’t have to be a mystery.