I still see us putting out three newsstand copies for every one that’s sold. For weeklies, who pay extra to get allegedly quick on-sale, it’s more like four copies distributed per sale.
I still hear about plenty of magazines mailing their titles inefficiently. I still receive the same old lame direct-mail pieces asking me to subscribe to magazines that I’ve never seen. (Stupid question: Why would I subscribe to a magazine based only on marketing copy without knowing what’s in the actual magazine?)
And, other than a few exceptions, I see little evidence that publishers are considering their impact on global climate change despite growing concern among their readers and advertisers. After all, we did elect a President this week who has promised to focus on the issue.
Here’s my advice for magazine CEOs looking to cut waste in response to falling ad revenue:
- If you have mailings of between 10,000 and 800,000 magazines (or up to 1.2 million catalogs) that are not being co-mailed, find out why. In fact, if no one has mentioned to you the possibility of some form of co-mail for those titles in the past year, you probably need to fire someone. There are plenty of production and distribution managers on the job market now who understand how to minimize postal costs. Note that even Crain’s, which a couple of years ago presented testimony that weekly titles could not be co-mailed, is now co-binding some of its weeklies.
- Read your magazines’ direct-mail pieces. Betcha 2 to 1 they suck.
- Call your circulation director and newsstand distributor into your office, hold a gun to their heads, and tell them to stop wasting so many newsstand copies. “Reduce the draw, reduce the sale,” they will parrot back at you. Comag Marketing Group has proven that you can reduce draw with little impact on sales. After all, the goal should be to maximize profits, not sales.
- Get ready for more of your advertisers to ask uncomfortable questions about the carbon footprint of your products. On the print side, you can start with the big item – paper manufacturing – by asking your paper suppliers about the carbon footprint of their products and what they are doing to reduce it. On the electronic side, make your people and your vendors stop suggesting that Web ads and digital editions are necessarily “greener” than print. (Check out Wired's take on the subject, and Multichannel Merchant's Nov. 11 webinar on improving your carbon footprint.)