Q: How do I find advertisers for my new magazine? I'd like to do an initial printing of 1,000. I also need to find customers. I have no budget to speak of, and I'm worried.
A: You should be worried. You're at the point of printing the first issue without knowing how to pay for it or who will read it. Here are four suggestions:
1. Put together a mock issue of your magazine to show potential advertisers. It will need to be complete with samples of articles, interviews, reviews and reports similar to (but not exactly) what you'll have in the first issue. On the pages, indicate the various sizes of ads that will be available with blank areas clearly defined by borders. Inside each space list the ad's size and cost per issue. This kind of presentation allows the buyer to visualize his or her ad right on the page.
Create a rate sheet you can leave with each potential advertiser, one that gives per-issue costs as well as discounts available for multiple-ad purchases and long-term contracts. The rate sheet must also include deadlines for copy and other pertinent information--check out the rate sheets of competitors if you're not sure about what to charge or about design.
2. Approach potential advertisers who have businesses that will tie into specific articles in that first issue or into ongoing topics that will be covered in each issue. Encourage them to purchase 3 to 6 months worth of ads by offering lower prices for long-term contracts.
Have the ability to put together camera-ready copy for those clients who don't use an ad agency and will depend on you to have someone on staff to do the design and layout work.
3. You didn't say whether you're working alone or if you have help, or if this is an e-zine or one that will be mailed to people's homes. Either way, you need salespeople to cover the masses of potential advertisers.
Build a sales force of part-timers who will work strictly on commission until your circulation is high enough to pull in meaningful advertising dollars-sufficient enough to support a payroll, whether it's salary only or salary plus commission. Look to college students and sympathetic friends and family members for part-time help.
4. You'll undoubtedly take a loss at the beginning of this venture. Whether your magazine is subscription-based or will be free to the public with your revenue coming solely from advertisers, you need customers before you can make any money, and you indicated in your letter that you don't have a customer base yet. Advertisers will want circulation figures before they turn over their advertising dollars--they'll want to know how many people their ads will reach. Yours will be projected figures, and they'll want to know how you arrived at those numbers. You must build a customer base before you can begin approaching advertisers.
Here are a few facts of life that will cost you:
- Free issues are the best way to get people to read your magazine, so your very first printing will have to be a freebie.
- You'll have to pay top-flight people to write articles for you. This will eventually pay off because you'll be providing quality content to your readers, and they'll be encouraged to pick up or even pay for the second magazine.
- You have to get some kind of promotion going to bring attention to your new publication. Potential advertisers are going to want to know what you'll be doing in that regard. If you tell them you don't have a budget to do that, you'll find it almost impossible to attract advertising dollars, so start putting together an advertising budget right now rather than trying to work around not having one.
Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent Partner Advertising, where she oversees multimedia advertising budgets for retail and service clients. Her book, Advertising Without an Agency, was written for businesses owners who are working with small advertising budgets and can't afford professional help. You can reach Kathy via her website at http://www.silentpartneradvertising.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.