Magazine launch strategies: getting your marketing right

Launching a new title is often fraught with conflicting advice on how much to spend on the marketing budget. It’s about getting the balance right.

Spend too little and risk failure, but an overspend is likely to result in insufficient returns on your investment. So how do you develop a strong marketing campaign, which will produce great results on a cost-effective budget?

Firstly, careful planning and analysis will enhance your chances of a successful launch.

Set a budget. How much will you allocate to PR and is it enough to achieve your initial circulation targets? Next consider the potential returns – remember a good campaign should pay for itself. Do make adjustments if your research reveals that your plans aren’t cost-effective, or don’t have a sufficiently wide reach.

Do identify threats and weaknesses, as well as opportunities when developing your campaign. Look for potential problems with your scheduled launch. For example do your dates clash with an important event? If so think about how you turn it into an opportunity. Identify as many flaws as you can in your campaign, then prepare a strategic damage limitation plan.

5 Marketing strategies for the launch

1. Sponsorships/strategic partners: Can you get a strategic partner on board to sponsor a suitable event? When initially launching a writing magazine, we secured sponsorship with a large literary festival. This worked well, not only did we gain an advertiser in the long-term, but also had exposure to writers – our target audience.

2. Distribution marketing: For newsstand titles this should be seen as a key investment – your audience needs to know you exist. It is crucial to budget for point-of-sale stands at retail outlets to catch casual browsers who might be interested. Remember your magazine will be facing competition from hundreds of titles at larger retail outlets such as WH Smith or supermarkets, so it is crucial that a new magazine stands out from all the others in its sector.

3. Editorial opportunities: Is your publication unique or particularly useful to the reader? If so it might warrant coverage in the local or national press.

4. Advertising: Factoring a budget for advertising in the press can be an effective strategy, particularly if your launch is lifestyle or specialist title. Also consider building relationships with non-competitive, independent magazines – a reciprocal advertising deal could benefit both titles.

5. Online and social media: Developing online tactics to promote your magazine’s online and social media platforms is crucial. Consider investing in advertising to boost your posts. Also do try to link with particular groups, which are likely to be popular with your target audience.

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