Here’s how to drum up more business for 2011 with three new revenue ideas that most any association can implement.
By Marlene Hendrickson
Hello February! Still hitting the gym everyday? How’s that low-carb diet going?
It’s been well reported that by mid-February the treadmill lines begin tapering off, and the bakery lines start building up again. But one goal that’s easier to accomplish and remain loyal to throughout the year is generating additional revenue through your association’s publishing and media assets. Here are three revenue-generating strategies to consider and make your own in 2011.
Strategy #1: Really Dive into Digital (Really)
It’s likely that your association magazine has been digital for a while. Even the print traditionalists admit how cool it can be. How can you make your digital magazine a significant revenue generator? Make 2011 your year of digital advertising innovation and knock your advertisers’ socks off with creative new ways to grab your readers’ attention.
Go beyond embedded videos and podcasts in their digital ads; other magazines (your competitors) already offer the now standard digital blow-ins and bellybands.
Choose two or three completely new digital ad offerings. It’s OK that you didn’t get these into your 2011 media planner. Now your ad sales reps will have a new excuse to call people.
One of the best examples of strategic digital magazine publishing meets new ad revenue generation was a recent highlight on Texterity’s digital magazine blog. Blogger and VP of Sales & Marketing Wendy Zingher gives best practices props to what she calls "a little Canadian magazine” that focuses on higher education issues trends and issues to our north.
University Affairs magazine "created a digital supplement on technology that was sponsored by Epson,” Zingher explains. "The supplement included a contest for magazine readers, which doubled as a lead-gen program for Epson.” University Affairs pulled off a sponsorship they wouldn’t have gotten without using a digital edition to distribute widely across Canada.
Peruse this winning idea, and at your next communications/editorial staff meeting, brainstorm about what kinds of information your members need most – and need right now. Discuss your best sponsorship prospects and the most innovative ways to leverage your digital platform. Engage your ad sales team to ensure you maximize the opportunity. And most of all, make sure writers and editors have fun with their assignments – it’s an opportunity to do something different while supporting the association’s bottom line and engaging members.
Not ready to produce an entire money-making supplement? Start smaller by offering digital ad space (think video) that’s not on your rate card – perhaps a special size that appears opposite your front cover or ads that are integrated with an advertisers’ presence on your website.
Strategy # 2: Cash In on Content
You may be longing for the bone-chilling winter weather to end, but don’t forget it’s time for spring cleaning. Just as you block out time to store the down coats and wool sweaters, set aside a block of time (and bring cookies) to meet with team members about your association’s best and most valuable content.
Take into account all content and venues, including e-newsletters, blogs, podcasts, Facebook or LinkedIn postings, educational materials, and webinars as well as every piece of magazine content you’ve produced in the last two years. For example, is there a particular magazine department that’s a consistent hit with readers? Have there been certain blog posts that caused a flurry of comments?
Map out topics and specific published pieces (you also can refer to them later to give your 2011 editorial calendar an extra injection of "oomph”) and prepare to make everything old new again. Update where necessary and repackage your best content for an attractive sell. Think in terms of increased value for members and additional revenue for your budget.
The current king of this revenue-generating strategy has to be Harvard Business Review (HBR). Most would agree that HBR editors do a fine job of pushing out engaging and valuable content for its 250,000 U.S. readers each month. Such a fine job, in fact, that the magazine’s online store always seems well-stocked with repackaged, revenue-generating resources.
Here’s what’s headlining the online store right now: Harvard Business Review 2010: A Year of Management Ideas. Take an entire year of the best management ideas with you on one easy to carry and search CD or Zip file … Now with Executive Summaries, which can help you decide which articles to read in their entirety or offer enough of a take-away if you're pressed for time. The entire year’s worth of articles is yours for only $49.95.
If producing searchable CDs doesn’t fit in your association’s budget right now, consider making your repackaged products accessible on your website via member passwords or encrypted PDFs that you could e-mail (and that purchasers can’t easily share).
Strategy #3: Mobilize for Mobile – as Soon as Possible
When it comes to mobile content (and mobile advertising opportunities), gone are the days of "we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Earlier this month, CNNMoney.com reported on the latest International Data Corp. (IDC) findings marking a technology industry milestone: Global smart phone sales surpassed PC sales for the first time in the last quarter of 2010.
"The future certainly looks to be mobile with the majority of the world's population going to the web from their smart phone rather than their PC,” writes CNN’s Seth Weintraub. "Interestingly, smart phones don't include the tens of millions of tablets and iPods which could be considered mobile smart devices as well.”
And while it’s wise to do some legwork – such as finding out which smart devices your members are using and how they prefer to tap your content – association editors and designers should make mobile part of their content planning and presentation strategies now. Editing and designing for mobile is another discussion, but the opportunity for mobile ad revenue could make your sales manager’s mouth water.
Of course not all associations have in-house developers or the budget to develop a custom mobile platform. In those cases, consider the turnkey solutions on the market right now – such as the universal smart phone platforms from companies like Qmags, Texterity, and others. Scott Johnson of Qmags says it’s as simple as sending text output files from InDesign and jpg images and then creating a made-for-reading issue for the smart phone. "This platform is accessible by every smart phone in the world since there’s no app to install,” he explains.
Mobile advertising is another exciting reason for associations to reach out to their long-time advertisers and supporters, as well as an opportunity to drum up new business to benefit your bottom line.
Marlene L. Hendrickson is a communications consultant and strategist based in metro Washington, DC, and a member of the Association Media & Publishing Content Creation Committee. Follow her on Twitter at @mhendrickson14.