Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Publishers' Billing Series Need Improvement

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Publishers' Billing Series Need Improvement

Article excerpt

Publisher's billing series need improvement

A good many publishers risk bad pay-up response by neglecting the look, wording and frequency of their billing mail, according to a survey conducted by Customer Development Corporation, a magazine collection agency.

During the past four years, vice-president Cathy Beers subscribed to 300 consumer magazines, mostly monthlies, and deliberately neglected to pay the bills in order to elicit each title's entire billing series. Her analysis covered the years 1984, 1986 and 1988.

Most striking, she says, is the lack of innovation in billing. Most magazines ,she observes, stick obdurately to black and white, or black and red, changing the styling about once every five years. By contrast, a test Beers conducted shows that billing packages that switched from blue to red pulled 50 percent better for half the titles tested.

"If everybody's bill is the same," she says, "you won't get yours opened."

Moreover, in 1988, 84.2 percent of the magazines had tried no new billing packages. The problem, says Beers, may lie in publisher's belief that they will receive printing discounts if packages don't change. "But printers will change the color of packages in later efforts without charging for it," she notes.

Don't stop after three


Furthermore, close to half of all publishers send fewer than five bills in a series, she notes. "If you send only three bills and stop, you're leaving a ton of mail on the table," she says. In her survey, 53.9 percent of respondents mailed five or six bills in 1984, and four years later, 55.2 percent did so.

Magazines also tend to send two rather than three issues to nonpayers before terminating the subscription, she adds. In 1984, 27 percent of the 300 titles mailed two copies, and 29 percent sent three. …

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