If you think a new digital magazine is worth launching, you probably have the inside track and some contacts in the niche already. Other digital publishers are not in the same position to start this magazine—they don’t have your insight and connections. Because of your experience in a particular niche industry, you see this need for a magazine within that niche. It is a very unique situation to have both the contacts AND the insight. Plus, you have the motivation and willingness to work hard. It would actually be really hard for someone to steal this launch idea from you.
That’s why it always surprises me when publishers are afraid to talk to anyone, even advertisers, about their great ideas. I think it’s one of the biggest mistakes a publisher can make in launching a new magazine. They make all their plans in secret and then suddenly spring the promotion on all the advertising prospects at once, with a deadline to advertise in 2 months.
I will talk to ANYONE who will listen to me when I am exploring a new magazine launch idea, and you should as well. Contact the big fish vendors within that niche about your idea. See what they think and encourage honest feedback. This conversation also helps makes them part of your team; when you are selling to those same advertisers later on, they are basically pre-sold on the concept. Simply put, it’s way more beneficial to you and your magazine to talk to advertisers before you have a rate card or anything formal.
Here’s some other ideas we picked up from niche digital publishers who attended the Niche Digital Conference about their pre-launch ad sales ideas:
- First, meet with your core advertisers and get them to sign on. Network with these people like crazy and you will get new leads in return.
- Have a prototype to show them during pre-launch; something they can see. Don’t leave anything with them unless they sign on.
- Offer a native advertising program as a way to entice advertisers.
- Create a tiered, flexible pricing structure with one level for pre-payment, one for short term, one for the long term. Have the contracts ready.
- Don’t devalue your brand by offering discounts right out the gate. You’ll never get up to the rates you want if you start out that way.
Launching a new niche magazine is super intense. Taking the right “pre-selling” steps with advertisers during this phase is critical to your long-term success!
Carl Landau is Grand Poobah of Niche Media. He made millions starting and selling five niche magazines, two conferences and two tradeshows in both the consumer and B-to-B publishing worlds. Teaching his Camp Niche ad sales seminars to over 3,000 ad sales professionals has given him unique insight into the needs of small-to-medium niche publishers. He started the wildly successful Publishers Only Niche Magazine Conference in 2007 and the fast-growing Niche Digital Conference in 2009. His latest super-niche project is Niche EventFest - it's all about helping publishers develop strategies for profitable events for their target audiences.