Test marketing

Publishing is production-orientated, probably because traditionally, many publishers also owned their printing presses.

So a publication was planned on a cost-based budget: the cost of production and distribution was estimated, which showed the amount of revenue needed to bring in a profit.

If that sounds familiar, or ‘common sense’ then it’s because intuition tells us that is the way things should be done.

But that’s not how marketing works! By proceeding that way you are in danger of losing everything at the throw of a dice. And if you just happen to throw winning numbers, you still won’t know if you are throwing away profits. There is no need to take such risks.

Why test market?

Test marketing:

Without this knowledge, you are indeed gambling on everything unnecessarily. As an employee, a marketer may feel it’s not his or her money being risked. But a successful launch is down to successful marketing, and a good reputation will follow it.

And if you are the owner and it’s your own money you are risking, then why not remove those risks altogether?

Why not plan in some test marketing?

I have found the most common failing among launch publishers is that they fail to test market their idea to establish price levels and other key profit points. Why? Probably because marketing is not an established function for many publishers. Strategy is left to the bosses, and at a recent subscriptions seminar I asked:

“How many delegates here have bosses who are experienced direct marketers?”

There were 150 delegates in the audience. Two hands went up.

How test marketing works

I asked some marketers for examples of how they approach a new launch. Below is how the marketing manager at Peak Performance replied.

Peak Performance is the market-leading online resource for sports training advice. Their website usually comes first on Google searches for phrases such as ‘sports training’ ‘ football training’ ‘swimming training’ ‘running’ etc.

The marketing manager, Mark Edwards, is writing about a Peak Performance Workbook promotion. It went out as an email to their in-house list of names. He explains how the workbook was test-marketed and then created.

If you have ever wondered how you can test an idea before you go to the expense of producing it, this short explanation has the answer:

“We came up with the concept, you wrote the copy and effectively put the contents together. After a great response we decided to produce the book and it’s been a steady seller for three years, returning on our initial investment many times over.
Conversely, we tried a yearbook idea – again, sending out the copy before we went into production. We got so few orders that production never went ahead and we saved £thousands. We always test new ideas to a sample of our list now. It’s a crucial part of the process – and the cheapness and speed of email makes it so much easier. “
Mark Edwards
Electric Word plc

Contact me using the form below for a free report on test marketing your publication. If it has already launched, then it’s not too late! We can run a price test (and other tests) to show how you can increase profits year on year.

Peter Hobday
Subscriptions Strategy Ltd