Business plans for a new publication or website are easy. You set out your projected revenue and estimate the costs to deliver your product. Or you do it the other way around.
But how did you arrive at your revenue figures? Are they just estimates? What market testing have you done to support your projections?
Publishers who put forward a business proposal without a tested marketing plan will be rejected by seasoned investors, bankers, accountancy firms and successful entrepreneurs.
Those kinds of backers need to see realistic figures. But a typical publishing company does not do things that way. That ‘marketing discipline’ is forgotten. Directors will OK any old stuff (unless there is a recession on. Then it’s a blanket ‘no’.)
Usually, the ‘marketing plan’ lacks the ‘real’ component: scientifically conducted research.
In other words, market-testing on enough real live people.
Who will believe your figures?
The marketing plan must show where the revenue comes from, how much it costs to get it and how much people will pay for your product.
If you â€˜estimateâ€™ (make up) those figures no real backer will believe them. People may like you and your team, and maybe you can get the money based on your likability. But a good marketing plan needs more substance.
Marketing lies at the core of any business because unless you understand how people are likely to respond to your offer, and can show the evidence to prove it no professional is likely to be convinced.
How to be a convincing publisher
A simple measure of your believability is this: if it takes longer than around 120 seconds â€“ two minutes â€“ to prove your case, youâ€™ll fail.
It’s is called the ‘elevator pitch’ and for good reason. That’s about how long it takes to ride the elevator. Two minutes and the investor will make his mind up.
Without a tested marketing plan showing how many and how much people are prepared to pay, your forward projections should not to be accepted. If the figures are properly researched, however, then few will turn the proposal down.
The wrong kind of market research is no better than no research at all. The very best position is to have research results that you can take to the bank â€“ and by that I mean literally: cheques, credit card and direct debit orders in your hand to show how your prospective business will work when you take the idea to the wider public.
That is what real test-marketing gives you – handfuls of orders. Numbers that can be prudently extrapolated to show real revenue when you roll-out.
Test marketing – a real example
The best way to test if a prototype vacuum cleaner will sell is to use it on the prospectâ€™s carpet. The sale takes around 120 seconds. The proof of sale, the money, quickly follows.
No-one, not even your harshest critic, can argue with the hard cash that comes from sales.
Testing your media in the market
Luckily, in our business of publishing we have methods of testing markets that are:
5. Backed by years of test-case studies
In case you think money will flow into your business without doing any marketing, or that you â€˜cannot afford marketing at the momentâ€™ here are some questions you will be asked:
1. Does your business plan contain a marketing plan?
2. Does your marketing plan contain test results that are indisputable?
3. Are you a recognised marketing and sales expert in your field? If not, where is he / she?
4. Do you think you are saving money by not marketing?
5. Do you confuse marketing with â€˜promotingâ€™ your product? (A completely different thing)
6. Are you â€˜waiting until laterâ€™ to do your marketing?
7. Do you think your prospects will see the virtues of your product and buy it without promotion? (Few will)
8. Is having a ‘better’ or cheaper product enough to be successful? (No it’s not. Who will know?)
9. Will prospects automatically buy your product rather than another?
10. Should you involve someone who knows as much about marketing as you do about your business? (Knowledge and effectiveness are two different things)
11. Have you tested an integrated Internet strategy into your plan? (It’s not an add-on. Your website is your hub)
These questions are the ones you should also be asking yourself. The answers should be the basis of your rationale for your new venture.
You think your product is best?
If you think that providing exceptional or cheaper products to a consumer is sufficient to have a successful business then you’re in big trouble.
There are eleven common marketing mistakes even experienced publishers make when launching or promoting a publication. So if you have fallen into one, two or even all of the traps you are not alone. Many more companies fail than succeed.
To avoid trouble, create a marketing plan with an expert who knows as much about marketing as you do about your business.
Unless, of course, you already know such things as how to plan and execute a test-marketing programme, how to originate sales copy, how to build a list of leads and how to combine online and offline marketing tactics.
Subscriptions marketing: confidential information for sale
The Subscriptions Strategy newsletter publishes international case studies of â€˜best practiceâ€™ marketing for the Internet, websites, newsletters, books and magazines etc.
As publishers ourselves, we live or die by results. If a promotion doesn’t work, we lose money. If it works we record the results and use it on our own, and our clientsâ€™ websites and publications.
Every issue of the Subscriptions Strategy newsletter carries examples of successful marketing.
How you benefit by removing risk
As far as we are concerned, our testing means the difficult and costly part is over. As far as you are concerned, you can benefit from this tried and tested knowledge because the risk of failure has been removed and profitability is assured.
You will also find Subscriptions Strategy a great resource for training staff in all aspects of subscriptions marketing.
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