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Before You Launch

by Wendy J. Woudstra   


If you want to launch a new magazine, there are a lot of things you'll need to get a handle on before you begin. Although this list is aimed at professional publications with a research budget, these concepts can be utilized on a low budget to no budget scale as well.

1. Find an Editorial Approach

Before you launch your publication, it is vitally important to know what your potential readers want. Find out how they are presently served, and consider what editorial slant will best attract them to your new publication. An editorial slant can either drive customers away or increase customer loyalty - determining your editorial approach will have a lasting impact on the success of your publication.

2. Research Prospective Readers

It is essential to every new publication to know and understand the reading habits and preferences of its audience as well as their lifestyles, attitudes and values.

Finding this information may be costly and time consuming, but will prove invaluable. For those publications with meager budgets, using the Internet and a local library to gain access to published information, and making an investment of your time into surveys and focus groups may keep your research budget under control.

No matter what methods you choose to use in this stage, ensure you spend time determining how you can use the information gathered in your editorial positioning and circulation building efforts.

3. Advertising Sales

Advertising volume and revenue growth are the variables which most often determine a publishing launch success or failure. Here are some questions you'll need to consider well before your launch:

  • How do you identify potential advertisers and inform them of your unique position in the face competition?
  • Where are your best prospects? Where are they currently advertising? (Closely watching your competition will help you begin to target advertisers, but don't stop there. A future article will outline ways of scouting out new advertising markets - stay tuned!)
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition in the eyes of your prospective advertisers? Doing some basic market research in this area will help you pitch your publication as unique and superior.
  • Should you (and how can you) allow potential advertisers to participate in prototype development?
  • How can you find, train and manage the right sales team?
  • What milestone should be established to control advertiser expectations of your progress?

4. Circulation

What methods and to what degree will you promote and sell via newsstand, direct mail, telephone and agency? What methods or benchmarks will you use to test the effectiveness of these methods?

What methods can you use to make your charter subscription program successful?

What should your per name subscription costs be? Could they be lowered by using a fulfillment bureau, or by moving them in house?

Can you earn additional income from such things as mail list sales/rental etc.?

5. Launch Strategy

The promotion and monitoring of your launch could make or break your magazine, so spend a lot of time preparing and thinking out your launch strategy, and if you're going to use professional consultants anywhere, this is where it should be.

Recently, someone brought an article on a Website to my attention, demonstrating how too much initial success can be as troublesome as too little. For a great look on starting up a magazine from a successful publishing entrepreneur and consultant, check out "How We Started PC Magazine in 1981."