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Giving Magazine Subscribers What They Want By Prioritizing Content Over Ads

Can you turn magazine subscribers into your primary source of revenue instead of advertisers?

Last week I was emailing back and forth with my friend and colleague Jack Edmonston, who often sends interesting news my way with some thoughts to pontificate on. This time it was an article from Politico by Jack Schaefer called, “Do Readers Own the New York Times?”  Although the article is about newspaper and not magazine subscribers, it’s an interesting concept to think about for our industry, too.

It begins with a quote from Publisher E.W. Scripps, at the turn of the last century, who said, “I recognize the advertiser as the enemy of the newspaper.” He believed that editorial content shouldn’t be sacrificed for advertiser demands, and didn’t believe publishers could honestly serve their audience and advertisers at the same time. 

Scripps was an outlier, and the publishing industry has since depended on advertising. However we are beginning to see a paradigm shift at one of the largest newspaper publishers, The New York Times. Schaefer notes, “Two years after the paper erected its paywall, subscription revenue began to exceed advertising revenue. Today, print and digital subscribers account for 60 percent of the paper’s revenues, and those revenues are growing, erasing the adage that readers don’t and won’t pay for news.” He adds, “A print subscriber to the New York Times contributes about $1,000 to the newspaper’s treasury a year, and when he cancels in high or even low dudgeon, the paper winces.”

The commentary makes an interesting point that no matter who pays the bills, journalists will always find economic pressure from a place that requires all humans to avoid doing harm to themselves.

Because there will always be a boss, as Schaefer put it, “If reader revenue continues to climb as a share of total newspaper revenue, editors might reconsider the areas they originally started covering to attract advertisers…And all these new subscribers tend to be vocal about what they want and don’t want. Will this new arrangement alter what the Times covers? And can other papers ape its success?””

While it’s always been clear that large advertisers can bias editorial coverage at any newspaper or magazine, I still wonder if readers will have a lesser role even when they use social media to organize boycotts of offending media. Like most things, the impact will be based on both the editorial subject matter and a willingness of ownership to do the right thing as they see it.

Getting beyond advertising revenue and becoming consumer owned

As a large publisher, and one in the news space, the New York Times is unlikely to toss away the preferences of their largest advertisers anytime soon. There is a lot of overhead in delivering paper products, and the Times has no shortage of print to circulate. Fortunately the New York Times and other large newspapers never implemented a circulation strategy to be fully controlled and free, but a number of large daily newspapers did flirt with free distribution for alternative products for some time. 

The marketing and distribution cost for a digital operation, however, are very different than the production and distribution costs, and marketing costs for a print operation.

That’s why we have been hard at work convincing our niche publishing partners to digitize, digitize, digitize. While traditional magazine readers do enjoy getting a glossy-cover and pages to flip through, the younger generations prefer to get their information online. And as you can see from The New York Times as an example, they’re completely willing to pay for digital content.

Fifteen years ago, “ownership” was important. Consumers wanted a product they could hold in their hands. Video games, music, and movies were all sold in stores like Best Buy. Then iTunes came along, and Apple made it easy to buy music on their devices. And Amazon came along and made it easy to buy movies with an account people already use. Two companies that people trust were able to convince millions of people to change their buying mindset and put a real value on digital products.

People no longer need to hold something in their hands to find it valuable. You can’t offer magazine subscribers your whole print archive for $35 but you can certainly sell digital access to it. And when you’re in a niche that people care about, they’ll pay for it.

Over the past two decades, we’ve guided more than 300 niche publishers through the process of transforming themselves from legacy print publishers into multiplatform operations that often dominate their industry niche and generate operating margins that surpass those created by their legacy print business. Learn more about how we can help you apply these strategies to your publishing business by scheduling a FREE consultation today.

Meet Us in Plymouth and Learn
How to Double Your Publishing Revenue

Join other senior publishing executives at the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop—where you’ll learn how to plan, execute, and optimize a profitable magazine-driven membership marketing system. And how to double your publishing revenue!

Secure your registration now, while seats are available and Early-Bird Registration is open.

Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop

May 20-21, 2020
Mirbeau Inn & Spa
Plymouth, Massachusetts

This two-day membership marketing secrets workshop is intense—it’s not for the faint-of-heart, and it’s only for magazine publishing senior executives who have the vision and resources to grow their businesses.

This event is also for curious publishing executives who want the membership marketing secrets for publishers revealed—so that profits, growth, efficiency, and total transformation will power a magazine business that leads the industry and is the envy of competitors and collaborators alike.

You’re familiar with the growth and prominence of the emerging membership economy—you can see it daily as you interact with Amazon, Netflix, or even your local gym. And luckily, magazine publishers can learn a lot from others who have “paved the way” to condition consumers to buy memberships.

This is no fad, it’s a bona-fide trend that you should know about, understand, and latch on to membership marketing secrets for your own business’ purposes.

You should first know what isn’t a secret—having a metered paywall at your website. Yes, thanks to many news-oriented publishers, metered paywalls have become commonplace and are a powerful way to showcase your premium content and convert website visitors into buyers.

But having a metered paywall is not a secret. Who doesn’t know about metered paywalls or already have one for their content?

And simply having a website where you publish content is not the answer to staying competitive these days … let alone blowing your competition out of the water.

For that, you need to attend the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop! You’ll not only learn about the membership marketing secrets, but you’ll also discover all the online publishing myths that often distract or derail many publishers from keeping their eyes on the prize—growth and profits!

When you attend the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop, you’ll be among the publishing industry’s elite—those who are ahead of the trends and will know exactly how to optimize your publishing efforts, based on the latest business intelligence. There will be plenty of time for networking, too, so you can get to know your fellow publishing professionals!

The 7 Membership Marketing Secrets for Magazine Publishers

So that you don’t have to wait until our event, here’s a list of 7 membership marketing secrets:

  1. Web Magazine
  2. Web Magazine Library
  3. Curated Special Collections
  4. Leveraging Existing Content Platforms
  5. Content Previews
  6. Email Marketing Frameworks
  7. Landing and Offer Page Frameworks

And of course, much of the “secret” is not just having a list, but fully understanding what’s behind these secrets and learning what to do about them, so that your own publishing system is in alignment with all these secrets.

When you come to the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop, you’ll learn about all of these in detail—and you’ll learn how to plan, execute, measure, and optimize your very own magazine-driven membership marketing system.

I promise you this now, too—when you register and attend our event, you’ll get 3 bonus membership marketing secrets. And while my colleagues prefer me to hold these bonus secrets back until you register, I can tell you they involve growing your audience, growing customer engagement, and growing revenue.

You’re probably wondering how I can make the claim that you’ll double your revenue when you register for our Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop. Well, Mequoda has been around for more than 15 years—and we’ve helped many magazine publishers over that time, including Prime Publishing, Yankee Magazine and Hearst Magazines … and we’ve counted AAA Northeast and the Biblical Archaeology Society as clients (non-profit membership organizations that both have magazines!).

The Agenda for Discovering the 7 Membership Marketing Secrets for Publishers

You’ll leave this event with a clearer vision and plan for transforming your magazine publishing business. Here is the agenda for the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop:

Wednesday, May 20

  • Creating a New, Successful Membership Product
  • 3 Ways to Build Your Audience Marketing Database
  • Offer- & Price-Testing Strategies for Maximizing Revenue
  • How to Organize and Outsource Your Business Processes

Thursday, May 21

  • Building an Integrated Membership Marketing System
  • 4 Key Metrics for Measuring Your Success
  • Modeling and Budgeting Your Five-Year Plan
  • 3 Bonus Membership Marketing Secrets Revealed

For a full description of all the sessions, click here to download your FREE Program Guide.

This entire membership marketing secrets event will be led by me, Kim Mateus, as Chief Strategy Officer at Mequoda Systems. In 2004, I started with Mequoda as employee #2, and have since overseen strategic planning for many of Mequoda’s publishing partners. Having guided the development of more than 20 subscription and membership marketing systems, my team and I monitor and maintain a robust best-practices database of marketing techniques and business processes that helps power all Mequoda partner marketing programs. My focus on client content strategies is a natural extension of my journalism education and background.

And here is a high-level summary of the entire Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop:

WHO: Besides senior executives like you from magazine publishing companies, the Mequoda Systems team who will join me at this membership marketing secrets event are veteran publishing professionals themselves—you’ll have plenty of time for networking with your fellow publishing executives and with the Mequoda Systems team:

  • Don Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer
  • Bill Dugan, Chief Copywriter
  • Nancy Horan, Chief Systems Officer
  • Eileen Shea, Content Marketing Director
  • Norann Oleson, Analytics Director

WHEN: May 20-21 (it’s NEVER too early to sign up!)

WHERE: Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Plymouth, Massachusetts

For inn room reservations at preferential rates for our attendees, click here or call 833-MIRBEAU (833-647-2328) for room reservations.

WHY: Because the magazine publishing world is fast-changing and keeping up with trends can be a full-time job—this membership marketing secrets event will help you focus on only the key initiatives that will help drive growth for your business.

For a full description of all the sessions, speakers, and the venue for this event, click here to download your FREE Program Guide.

I’d tell you to “mark your calendar” for this event, but if you only do that you might miss out—we only have a limited number of seats for this exclusive event, so sign up right now.

I hope to see you in historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, in May 2020!

Sincerely,

Kim Mateus
Chief Strategy Officer, Mequoda Systems
Program Leader, Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop

P.S. If you already know that this event is for you, sign up right now while seats are still available (this is a small event—we really only have space for a few dozen people). Register now for the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop!

P.P.S. Prefer not to wait until 2020 to benefit from all these membership marketing secrets? If you have a sizable team at your organization who should hear all about this, email me at kim@mequoda.com and let’s chat about accelerating the process for you and bringing this membership marketing secrets workshop on-site at your company.

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