Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Circ for Startups: Audience-Building Tips for New Print Magazines

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Circ for Startups: Audience-Building Tips for New Print Magazines

Article excerpt

LAUNCHING A PRINT MAGAZINE these days is often regarded with a mix of shock and inspiration--and given a smartly executed budget, there's still room for success. When it comes to building circulation for print startups, there are as many strategies for growth as there are magazines. Yet a pragmatic understanding of your target audience, your budget and an open mind to a creative source mix can help build the circulation that's right for your publication.

They Need to See It to Believe It

Garden & Gun, the Charleston, South Carolina-based lifestyle magazine, launched in 2007 with a 150,000 rate base, but knew it had a unique challenge in convincing readers what it was all about-its production quality, from edit to photos to paper, was best viewed in person. "The magazine was something we needed to literally get into the hands of people so they could see what it was," says president and publisher Rebecca Darwin.

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A first round of 90,000 issues were mailed to selected lists-pulled from demos based on household income, geographic location, and hunting, fishing and gourmet cooking interests--just to get a physical copy into the hands of reader prospects. The plan was "very expensive," but reflected the title's strategy of growing circ with a quality, direct-to-publisher base. The team backed off the 90,000 number as the paid circulation grew, and used the prior lists as suppressions to make sure no one got a sample twice.

Don't Be Afraid to Charge More

With demand for the magazine at a premium, Darwin decided to leverage it with the introduction of The Garden & Gun Club, a three-tiered service that bundles subscriptions with special offers. The $35 Adventure Society gets readers a one-year subscription, advance event notice, merchandise discounts and previews of a soon-to-launch auction service. The $100 Sporting Society adds a Garden & Gun book, a complimentary gift subscription and an annual member listing in the magazine. The $500 Secret Society, limited to 1,000 members, tacks on five gift subscriptions and access to annual gatherings with local artists, chefs and entertainers. …

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