Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Amazon Approach to Selling Magazine Subscriptions

What if the magazine industry followed Amazon’s example of marketing products to people based on their purchase history?

A correspondent forwarded this recent email from Amazon: “As someone who has purchased or rated A Child's Celebration of Folk Music, you might like to know that Save 26% at on Music from the Original Soundtrack and More: Woodstock is now available.” He says he purchased the folk music CD about six years ago.

I get it. Idealistic kids who were singing “We Shall Overcome” along with Pete Seeger in the early Sixties took about six years to graduate to snarling “Up against the wall, m**therf**ker” with the Jefferson Airplane. So I guess Amazon figures that 21st Century kids who enjoyed Woody Guthrie doing a silly song about cars six years ago (“Take you for a ride in my car, car”) are now ready to hear son Arlo recount his drug-smuggling exploits. (“Comin’ in to Los Angeleez, bringin’ in a couple o’ keys, Don’t touch my bags if you please, Mr. Customs Ma-a-an.”)

If the audience-development types (formerly known as magazine circulators before they allegedly became Web savvy) get hold of this idea, just think of the possible emails:

  • "We see that you have allowed your subscription to Christianity Today to lapse. Perhaps you would like to make your backsliding complete with this special introductory offer to Playboy magazine.”

  • “As someone who has allowed his Playboy subscription to expire after 20 years, we thought you might like to know that we’re offering a discounted subscription to Modern Maturity magazine, which comes with a $10 coupon good on your next purchase of Viagra.”
  • “As a schlemiel who subscribed to all three incarnations of Radar, you might be interested in these special offers for magazines that are destined to shut down before your subscription runs out.”
  • “We have found that people like you who bought the Stephen Colbert issue of Newsweek are also enjoying the special edition of Mad magazine that was written by the staff of The Atlantic Monthly.”

  • “As a stockholder of a newspaper or newsprint company, we’d like to introduce you to the hot new magazine, Bankruptcy Today.”

  • “As someone who’s been reading Nickelodeon magazine for the past four years, we thought you’d want to know that you are about to enter a stage of life that has, like, been abandoned by the U.S. magazine industry. Don't like it? Go txt yr frenz.”

No comments: