If a B2B marketer had launched Wired UK – part 2

OK. Apologies for the delayed sequel – school holidays, planning for a new business, Twittering instead of blogging, blah blah blah…

In my last post I looked at the launch of Wired UK. I said that it was a brave company that would launch a glossy consumer magazine in this climate and that I was generally impressed with the first issue. However, I did feel that the launch team had missed a few tricks.

If Wired UK is to survive better than it did last time then I believe the main thing the team should be concentrating on is building loyal subscribers, capitalising on the buzz of the launch & developing a variety of diverse revenue streams – key B2B disciplines that are sometimes missing in consumer publishing.

All the publicity I have seen since the first issue has been about successful newsstand sales and good initial support from advertisers. Outwardly it seems as though these are the main metrics Condé Nast are monitoring.

Fantastic; but one successful issue doesn’t make a successful business. This is especially true for a bi-monthly* where advertisers and agencies have a long time to forget about you between issues.

As any decent media marketer will tell you, subscriptions rule. Good subscription titles can enjoy 70%+ renewal rates and subscribers pay you the money up front. Subscriptions make a viable long term business and give a great message about circulation and loyalty to advertisers. Without them your business can disappear in a flash.

A quick look at the successful US edition of Wired circulation statements shows that it has nearly 90% of readers on subscription – some 614,000 of them.

The UK market is obviously a lot smaller but it shouldn’t be unrealistic to set a target of 50,000 paid subs by the end of the first 12 months & this would be my prime goal if I was running the launch marketing team. The Independent, in an analysis following the demise of the first attempt at a Wired UK estimated that it would need to sell 80,000 copies an issue to break even. 50,000 subscribers would leave a lot less pressure on the marketing budget for the promotion of newsstand sales.

So, I left my previous post explaining how the pre-launch activity should be concentrating on subscriptions (with a charter offer), data acquisition (via the web site) and social media marketing. I suggested that I would aim to have 12,000 subscribers, 60,000 registered web users and active communities on all the major social media sites 2 weeks before the first edition even hit the newsstands.

What then?

Well, I would also want to make sure that I had more than just a magazine to sell to my prospects. One of the things that’s at the core of successful B2B media is that a thriving media brand should only be the start of your business. The real money often comes from the sales of related products – conferences, training, exhibitions, books, special reports, affiliate deals etc. and the best time to sell them is when interest in your brand is at its highest – when you’re new. So let’s make the most of all these new registered prospects, social media visitors and web site readers & make sure that we have something else to sell.

Let’s also try to covert some of these people who have expressed an interest in Wired into subscribers – not just by inserting flyers in the magazine and directing people through to a subscription bureau but with direct sales contact via e-mail and the phone. As a result of the work we have done pre-launch we can have one to one conversations with a lot of our potential customers. I’d put an offer together – always with a time limit & countdown to encourage urgency – and contact all of my registered readers, fans and followers with a invitation to subscribe.

As well as contacting people on my own databases I would actively be monitoring a range of online channels to see what people were saying about the magazine. I would be seeding influential online personalities with free sample issues and tracking the conversations that are taking place online. By using the advanced function on tools like Twitter search you can get some fairly detailed prospects to call. It would be a shame to leave these people to never get round to subscribing (I haven’t yet, and I’m not hard to find…).


*I’ve always been confused about whether that is the right way of describing a publication that comes out once every 2 months.

Update: An interesting interview with Wired’s editor in the ‘back from the dead’ Press Gazette today – £2m first year promotional spend? Crikey.

Postcript (07/05/09) – Just seen issue 2 (June 09) & it’s also good. Also looks like I made a mistake about it being bi-monthly – don’t know where I got that from.



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7 responses to “If a B2B marketer had launched Wired UK – part 2

  1. Pingback: Business media roundup « Business Media

  2. Rory – your PS above… the term for every two months is ‘alternate-monthly’. In the States bi-monthly is every two weeks.

    Your analysis of the situation is spot on. The first attempt at Wired (was Julian Turner there for that?) failed here. I was at Stonehart then and we knew it would fail because we couldn’t see any big marketing effort. And the launch and pre-launch is when you sell most (as you say).

    The big question I always ask is personal: ‘What marketing experience does the boss have?’ I asked that question to 150 marketers at a publishers conference a couple of months ago and no hands went up.

    In this day and age.

    Excuse me while I get a handkerchief because I am crying …

  3. Rory Brown

    Thanks Peter.

    Wired UK now seems to be coming out almost fortnightly so I may have been correct in my description!

    I haven’t seen the third issue yet but it will be interesting to see how the advertising pages settle. I’d also like to run a competition to guess their paid subscription numbers at first ABC audit report. Any guesses? Leave your prediction here and I’ll find a suitable prize for whoever is closest.


  4. Paid subscribers for Wired after six months:


  5. Rory Brown

    Wired’s first audit out today on the ABC site. They sold an average of just under 50,000 copies per issue. 10,905 on subscription.

    Not bad – and a bit better that both Peter and I thought – but I still think they could have done a whole load better. With a real focus on subscription marketing from the start I would have aimed for this sort of number pre-launch.

  6. Yes, not as bad as I thought. Should have been much better. Did anyone see a subscription promotions email or mail?

    I would like a copy for the Subscriptions Strategy newsletter.

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