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Topic: Strategy

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Magazine Distribution

Posted by partyorpaper on 500 Points
Hi all: Another magazine question.

My last question was centered around advertising. This question is centered around distribution.

I am currently looking to increase the national distribution of my magazine by connecting with bookstores (and other places that sell magazines) across the U.S.

Here is my dilemma: While I can easily get my magazine into a bookstore, it doesn't seem like it's going to be cost-efficient for me.

Or maybe I'm doing it wrong?

Here is what I'm looking at right now: I want to contact 100 bookstores this month and send them a free evaluation issue of the magazine.

Let's say all 100 of them decide to order the magazine (which it probably won't be all 100, but just bear with me).

I figure it like this: The bookstore owners are there, they know their customers; so I want them to tell me how many magazines they want to order.

I would rather do that because I don't want to send them x amount of magazines, and then have the added dilemma of them having to mail a lot of magazines back because they didn't sell.

So I want the people that are "on the ground" (i.e. the bookstore owners) to give me an assessment, and tell ME how many magazines they want to order.

And then, here's my main dilemma.

The magazine has a shelf price of $2.50. I want to receive $1.50 back from each sale.

So if a bookstore orders 10 magazines, then they will pay me $15 and then they will make the $10.

So here's my first problem: I will have to mail the magazines out to all 100 bookstores.

So I'm looking at my mailing cost, in addition to the production of the magazine itself in this endeavor. This is going to be my front-end cost.

So I want to tell each bookstore to pay the $15 upfront before I even mail the magazines.

Do you think that's a good idea?

First question.

My second question is (yes, I'm sneaking in a 2nd one) this:

How do I maximize my profit?

Because again, my front end cost is going to include my cost of producing the magazine along with the mailing cost. If a bookstore only orders 10 magazines, I'm only making $15.

Which means with the cost of the production of the magazine and the cost of mailing added in, I'm barely making a profit.

What is your advice for me in this situation? Thank you in advance.

Because, what I'm doing right now is connecting

  • Posted by CarolBlaha on Accepted
    First, do me a favor. Take the word free out of your vocabulary. Do not send the stores free copies. That is too passive and most likely they won't be looked at. Google magazine distribution services and you'll see how others place their magazine.

    I'd call an owner of an independent bookstore and ask for an appointment. Bring the mag. Ask them how mags are placed in their stores. Build a list of 5 independents a week and call, mail, call again.

    Keep in mind that magazines not sold are often sent back and refund given. It may be applied to next month issue, but refund is given.

    Spend the money building subscription. Identify who your buyer is and pull thru sales via mail, digital version or bookstores. Organize a campaign where readers ask for the mag in the stores. It becomes a much easier sell.

    I have a great story of a start up magazine. The owner was literally ready to close, and then an order for 100 subscriptions came in. A large legal firm decided to send it to each of their clients. The magazine was high quality and local in nature. And the perfect gift that gave locals an update in the area. There is someone right now (great timing) thinking of a wonderful gift that arrives each month to a client. It could be you.
  • Posted by partyorpaper on Author
    Hi Carol:

    Thank you for the response, and all of the good information.

    I have one thing I want to question you on:

    You said that I should set appointments and then go and talk to store owners.

    That would be great, except I'm reaching out to store owners across the country.

    So of course, it's impossible to have a sit-down with them as you suggest.

    So in this situation, what do you think my best alternative is?

    If I shouldn't mail them the free evaluation issue, then what do you think I should do?
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    You're still in fact-finding mode. You need to learn how independent booksellers get their magazines, how they make those kinds of decisions, etc. You're not ready to sell to hundreds of retail stores yet.

    What if you learn that all of them buy from distributors, not directly from publishers? What if they require a 100% mark-up? What if they will only consider distribution if they can return all unsold copies? What if they only pay in 60 days?

    Follow Carol's advice and start talking to the decision-makers at independent bookstores. Prepare your discussion guide so you get the information you want. Then make the appointments and ask your questions. Take great and detailed notes. Don't try to sell them anything. Just ask, listen and take notes.

    After you've spoken with at least 8-10 folks, analyze and summarize what you've learned (from your notes), and come back to share the lessons with us. THEN we will be able to help you.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    Are you 100% committed to printing magazines and then distributing them? Could you investigate selling an online subscription to the magazines (for downloadable PDFs or viewable on their tablets, etc.)? That'll take the distribution problem off your list, eliminate printing, and instead focus you on: content and advertising.
  • Posted by CarolBlaha on Member
    I know you are reaching out to stores across the country. I'm suggesting by the basic questions you are asking is that you aren't ready yet. You have one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one. Make an appointment with the local independent and learn. As Goodman says ask questions and learn. But at the end, ask for the business. If they give you a trial you have one small test market to improve on. Babysit that first one. Make sure it's a seller for them.
  • Posted on Accepted
    Hey, here is my point of view. I am sure you must have thought of it and having a distributor channel is quite important in such a business.

    But if I would have been at your place I would have approached the actual readers. Promoting to readers would be more beneficial and once reader goes to the retailer and ask for the magazine, makes your job much more easier. Rather you distribute your free magazines to the retailer, distribute it to your target reader.

    Try to get hold of both of your side. On side is the reader and second side is your retailer. Generate interest in the reader and retailer will automatically play on your terms. This is not as easy as said. I may not be able to explain you the whole strategy, but target a local area, generate interest and network, take out the success story to target the whole country.

    If I would have been at your place, I would have taken this approach

    Hope this is of any help to you

    Nishant Manchanda

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