Building Circulation for New Magazines (933 words)
Last year was a tough one for magazine circulation. Direct mail response rates, stampsheet performance and newsstand sales were down in 1998, according to the 1999 CircTrack industry survey published in August by Capell-Jones. Yet CircTrack deals mostly with established magazines. How does a new magazine gain a foothold in this tough environment?
E. Daniel Capell, editor of the report, says, "There are really two ways to launch these days: Try it on the newsstand or do acquisition mailings."
In June 1998, publisher Steven Brill (of The American Lawyer magazine and Court TV fame) launched Brill's Content. Its start-up strategy comprised many media, with a heavy emphasis on direct mail—"the most expensive route," notes Capell. (See illustrations on p.128.)
Finding Lists That Deliver
Steven Brill was quoted in a January 25, 1999, article in The New York Times ("Brill's Discontent" by Alex Kuczynski) as saying that his audience consists of media "enthusiasts," not just media professionals.
Paradysz Matera & Co. and The Millard Group are the Brill's Content list brokers. The current data card from Millard, the magazine's list manager, describes it this way:
[Brill's Content] is the bible of the information age. It covers all that purports to be non-fiction...
While billing itself (for instance in the direct mail package) as a media watchdog publication, a year after its launch Brill's Content features newer departments such as Tools, which details new multimedia products, and general reviews called Stuff We Like.
Stuart R. Jordan, president of Circulation Specialists in Westport, CT, the clearing house for Brill's Content's circulation efforts, points out, "Brill's Content was conceived at the beginning as a broad consumer publication. Our target reader is well read with a strong interest in the events going on in the world. They are highly educated, affluent and very active in the new technologies." Jordan knows because, "To date, we have done both focus groups and surveys to better understand our readers."