Early bird renewals - handling careful spenders

The article below was first published in the Subscriptions Strategy newsletter in January 1996. It came in the aftermath of the worst recession most of us had experienced. It’s interesting to see how relevant it is today:

From January 1996:

‘Because of the recession following the extravagant 1980s, you can expect readers to be cautious about spending money. In the 1980s the feeling was: “Everyone is making and spending money — let’s join in!”
In the 1990s the feeling is:
“What a disaster the 1980s turned out to be. Let’s not join in.”
Unfortunately, this financial disappointment isn’t likely to disappear from current collective memory for a good number of years’.

Let’s look at those words in the light of the current recession, in 2011.

Problems began when those too young to have fully experienced the last recession’s damaging consequences came of consumer age.

Some of them become the marketers, bankers and accountants of today. And repeated the very same mistakes.

With this hard truth in mind, it’s plain to see that there will be valid objections from readers to taking out or renewing a subscription.

This could well be due to suspicion about the value of the product and the profit the publisher is making. The average reader knows little about how a publication makes its profit, and may object to paying for something in order to make extra money for the publisher.

The fact is, of course, that many of these subscriptions are being sold at less than cost price in order to raise the advertisement rate-base.

So why not tell the subscriber this? Why keep it a secret if it will attract extra revenue?

Remember — everyone likes a real bargain (rather then the usual 10% or 20% off). The more convincing the reason given for the discount, the better the response will be.

You can really activate a prospect by giving him or her the opportunity of acquiring something at an unrealistically low price.

Give a good reason
This is where brainstorming comes in. A publisher should gather a largish cross-section of staff and pose a relevant question:

1. “What reason do we give for selling or renewing a subscription early?”

2. “What reason do we give for selling a subscription at a genuinely reduced price?”

Use those genuine reasons in your promotions and renewal letters.

But my subscription rate is already very low!
If you have been selling cut-price subscriptions (and most big consumer magazines have), there is little room for further discounts.

Remember – you created your own problem by discounting just because it was easy marketing and everyone else was doing it. But there are ways to get out of the hole you have dug yourselves.

You can increase response simply by explaining why and how you are keeping subscription rates low – a simple task for any good copywriter.

How long does a recession last?
In the last recession, which began around 1990, it took until 1999 for the ‘feel good’ factor to return to the British consumer, driven by large increases in the value of their homes. This momentum begun to slow in 2005.

For plenty of recession busting ideas, read about our special offer below:

Subscriptions marketing: confidential information for sale, with four special reports free of charge

The Subscriptions Strategy newsletter publishes international case studies of ‘best practice’ 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 clients’ 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.

Please click on the link below for instant access to your subscriptions marketing starter pack. You receive:

1. 20% off the full price of an annual 6-issue subscription to the digital edition of the Subscriptions Strategy newsletter (a saving of £40)

2. Subscription Marketing Workbook worth £33: 15 Subscriptions Marketing Innovations Every Publisher Should Know

3. Subscriptions marketing ‘rapid update’: three special Subscriptions Strategy reports worth a total of £99 to bring you up to date with best practice marketing procedures for online and traditional subscription marketing

*Start now! Click here to order an annual subscription and collect your four special reports worth £132

You pay just £157, a total saving of £211. If the material does not come up to expectations, email, write or phone for a full refund. This guarantee is valid for the lifetime of your subscription and can be exercised at any time.

Grab a big discount on The Subscriptions Strategy newsletter! A year’s supply of the UK’s top inside source of subscriptions marketing information:

Peter Hobday
Subscriptions Strategy Ltd