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Rick McMillen
Chairman
Circulation Fulfillment
Consulting
Office: 832-886-1120 x118
Mobile: 281-844-8171
rick@mcmillencomm.com
How is the role of circulation changing, and how do circulators need to respond in the next 12 months?
Costs are up and responses are down! Yes, this is an over simplification of fact, however the need to stick with the basics of how the bulk of the circulation was built is critical. The Internet is a tool, not a profound method of new circulation development. Granted the costs are far, far less. However, are the efficiencies per order there? No, and I am not afraid to challenge that fact when working with our clients. I honestly don’t feel that new circulation development, relative to new order acquisition are changing. The old methods of sound list procurement and solid core (control) packaging is required along with careful timing and premium selection. When these steps are strictly followed you will continue to see good results … and conversions of these types of orders are still the best. Where circulation is changing is via the methodology of renewals, order processing, and customer service. The Web and sound use of quality systems for rapid response to inquiries, order and premium processing, change of addresses, etc., are critical and expected. These are all performing well and at good costs, yet we still see mail as the primary factor in the bulk of renewals.

What is the single most important skill a circulator/audiencedeveloper needs to possess in the year ahead?

It’s simple … a high percentage of renewals. This is our #1 concern each and every day. We all must realize that new subscriber acquisition is one of the most costly line items for any publisher. Meanwhile, renewals are one of the lowest cost items on the books. Therefore, concentration on renewals must be paramount. Question it weekly, study your results and reports, and act. Be very, very proactive. In this process a circulator must challenge product. Don’t be afraid of the editors. I have always believed it’s the circulators who get new readers and it’s the editors’ responsibility to keep them with the best damn product available. I don’t believe that subscription price, premiums, and added values are what keep the bulk of core readers. It is the product. More focus groups should be planned and the results should be applied. It is not only publishers, editors and marketers who have the answers. Sometimes it is your readership. By the way, what’s with Audience- Developer? Print has readers. Radio has listeners. Television has viewers. The Internet has browsers. Add all those together and that’s Audience. And we are not selling radio or TV. When is CM (Circulation Management) going to change to AM (Audience Management)? I think it would be a hard sell and very difficult to market. I want "circulation" to stay.

What new products and services essential to audience-developmentsuccess going forward?

This is not the answer you want or are looking for. Money!!! Sound budgets, heavy loaded on higher percentage marketing campaigns, are critical. Without it circulation will flat-line. Our clients
generally have smaller circulation totals and have limited resources to draw from so when committing to spending major dollars, minimizing risk must apply. Development of sound circulation models while interfacing a solid mix of all new readership potential is required. So what products are essential? I don’t really know. However, what services are essential is simple. It’s customer service. Readers/subscribers cost a lot of money to acquire so don’t throw a weak system at servicing them. Be sure you mail your product on time. Be sure your premiums are fulfilled immediately. Be sure that change of addresses, missing issues, and general complaints are handled quickly and efficiently. Keep that core readership (audience) happy and renewal percentages will increase and the need to replace non-renewals will decrease, which in turn will lower the new development costs. The math and logic are simple.

How does audience development online compliment print? Or does it?
Let’s be honest here, the jury is (still) out. Publishers must have Internet sites, multiple linking pages, staff, creative development, etc., to serve, arguably, a lesser percentage of reader potential than the primary base programs. Is this not an oxymoron???I will be honest here. We have tried and tried and tried. We have tested, designed, and redesigned. We have reconfigured search engine probabilities and have rewritten the lead subject lines thousands of times and still the results for new circulation development is just not there. My clients are building and reaching to the Internet (possibilities) more out of fear of not being there without any real or sound results to build on. Remember telemarketing? Wow! I loved it so much compared to Web marketing.

What surprising or unexpected development do you envision over the next year?
Postal rate decreases. Paper costs cut in half. Renewal percentages over 95 percent. Right!!! Would those not be great? Seriously, I believe that small- to mediumsized publishers will fall back to more and more traditional basics. While the big guys will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing more and more super digital highways only accessible via the Internet, the little guys will continue to fear that they are not up to speed. I don’t think that is unexpected nor surprising. What I hope to see is publishers taking more pride in proper pricing of their subscription rates, reducing their number of premiums, challenging their editors, and frequently reviewing the keys to all renewal programs. And I hope that every publisher takes the following, very simple circulation test … Is Your Circulation On Autopilot? This 35-question survey will help you gauge and test your overall circulation department and it’s daily functions through annual rate base development. You can grade yourself and it is quite revealing. Take the test and judge yourself and/or your circulation department and staff. Again, look for it at our site and grade your circulation NOW!!!
 



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  Rick McMillen
Chairman
office 832-886-1120 x118
mobile 281-844-8171
rick@mcmillencomm.com
 
 
 
 
 
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