The magazine industry has undergone significant changes in the past two decades, as advances in internet technology have changed the way people consume media and seek information. Savvy magazine publishers have learned that an online presence is necessary for modern publications, but the print business has not completely faded into history. There are still ways to increase print magazine sales in today's changing environment. Compelling content is still the biggest factor in increasing sales, but a mix of promotions, wide distribution and well-planned public relations can give magazines an extra boost.
Virtually all magazines should maintain a robust online outlet for articles, editorials and community engagement. Whether you reproduce print articles on your website or create unique content for the web, leverage your online presence to increase individual magazine sales. Cross promote both outlets to peak online readers' interest in your print version. Offer bundled subscriptions for print issues and online access or offer valuable discounts for readers who subscribe to both at once. Offer sneak peeks of in-depth print editorials on your website to stir up interest in each new issue.
Run regular free trial promotions to get magazines into as many readers' hands as possible. Even though you will not gain a subscription from each free trial reader, you can still boost sales enough to cover the cost of the promotion and increase long-term subscriber numbers. Free trials provide a way for you to prove to reluctant readers that your content is unique, informative and interesting enough to merit a future purchase. Consider working with a mass-mail marketing firm to send free trial offer letters to your target audience, or create television and radio advertisements for the promotion if you can justify the cost.
The distribution equation is simple for magazines: the more outlets you are in, the more sales you will have. Make distribution an ongoing priority for your publication, and always work to increase the reach of your distribution network. Work with magazine distributors known for their wide reach, and seek out those who represent the most popular publications in your genre. Contract with door-to-door magazine sales companies if it is appropriate for your content. Optimize your website for search engines to attract new web readers. Give copies of new issues to libraries, doctor's offices and other institutions in your target area that cater to your target audience.
Make personal connections with your target audience to build brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is crucial for print publications, as it can guarantee continued sales to existing readers while stimulating word-of-mouth buzz. Sponsor events that your audience will attend or watch on television. Host contests with valuable prizes to get people's attention. Maintain some kind of presence at large gatherings for causes that your target audience cares about. Invest in your community in very public ways, such as hosting a live broadcast at a major charity event.