We’ve all heard the only time you should give your print magazine issues away is in when it doesn’t cost you any money to do so. Is this true? Let’s look at some considerations magazine publishers account for before giving issues away to decide what the best answer is.
How many advertising pages does it take to cover your free circulation cost?
Add up all the magazine copies you give away to certain individuals; as promotional offers and for trade shows; to offices, gyms, and libraries; and to media outlets. Determine your costs to produce and ship those freebies. Be sure to include content creation, production, paper, printing, recordkeeping, shipping, and delivery expenses. How much ad space do you need to sell to cover those costs? Yes, there are reasons you might want to give your magazine away, but — from a purely financial standpoint — give away only the number of copies you can cover with ad sales.
If your value is your print magazine, why would you give it away?
Because it is valuable. So valuable you’re willing to give your magazine away so people can see the value for themselves. Yes, circulation departments benefit from this promotion, but marketing departments do, too. And although marketers are usually very protective of their budgets, it makes sense to transfer some of the giveaway costs to that department in many cases.
How many magazines do you throw away at trade shows?
Not only are you wasting money but you’re also adding to physical waste disposal. Calculate the percentage of magazines people don’t take with them, then cut the number of magazines you send to trade shows and conferences accordingly.
Do you need to change your circulation strategy?
Calculate your return on investment for promotional giveaways. If your numbers are ugly, perhaps you’re chasing too broad an audience. Many advertisers prefer smaller interested niche audiences for advertising platforms over large publications with a lot of unpaid circulation. Advertisers have no way to tell whether relevant audiences receive or even see these free magazines.
Crunch your numbers. You might be surprised at how much money you’re throwing away. Give away only what your advertisers can cover or your marketing department can justify.
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