Think of a dirty word.
That's right: Merchandising. As in "We don't do merchandising." Or "We used to do it, but we were ashamed of ourselves and we stopped."
Too bad. Merchandising is potentially one of the most effective weapons in the magazine sales arsenal.
Some of the hang-up may be semantic, so let's agree on what merchandising is not.
Merchandising is not the TV set that ends up in the product manager's basement rec room. That's bribery.
Merchandising is not some bullying advertiser demanding kickbacks for his own promotional slush fund with each participating magazine getting credit in eyestrain type. That's extortion.
Merchandising is not two-fers or space credits or "$500 for anything you want to do." That's card breaking. And stupid.
That's what merchandising is not. So what is it? GQ's marketing director and master merchandiser, John Brown, lays down these qualifications for merchandising investment. Merchandising programs must be mutually beneficial to both GQ and the advertiser; a natural extension of the magazine's values; and marketing oriented--i.e., it should help everybody move the goods.
Something for everyone
Mutual benefit obviously implies that each party gets something it needs. For the magazine, that something must go beyond advertising pages. Used properly, merchandising is strategic, reinforcing the magazine's prestige and marketing clout. And sound merchandising increases the advertiser's dependence on the magazine. In this arena, the Good Housekeeping Seal has long been the ultimate imprimatur. Sure it has leveraged a lot of ad pages into the book. But its greater value for Good Housekeeping is that it promotes the magazine's credibility in the process of enhancing the advertiser's. …