Design Dos and Dont’s that Boost Content Marketing: Part II

Welcome back to our series on design and content marketing. In the first part of the series, we discussed the things you should do when it comes to designing for content marketing. Now we will cover the things that should be avoided in regards to content marketing design. Check out the dont’s of design and content marketing:

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Check out the dont's of design and content marketing.

  • Don’t rely on gimmicks: One of the things that should be avoided when designing for content marketing is relying on gimmicks. While using certain sales tactics in content marketing is encouraged, solely relying on them can cheapen your brand and be a turn off to your readers.
  • Don’t try to cram everything in: While you are probably excited to tell your audience about a certain piece of information in your content marketing piece, it is important to make sure you are not packing too much in. Make sure to use a reasonably sized font and leave a decent amount of white space to make the piece easy to read.
  • Don’t forget to make design a team effort: Working as a team for the design of your content marketing can be extremely beneficial. This will give you the chance to get multiple opinions on the matter so that you can ensure you are putting the best piece out there.

Design plays a large role when it comes to content marketing and should be carefully considered. Make sure you are taking the right steps to ensure you are boosting the success of the piece.



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Success Story: ITEM Media’s Interference Technology Takes Tech to a New Level with The Magazine Manager

Imagine creating an engineering publication for all of Europe with ten languages under one cover in addition to publishing a broad portfolio of electronics, healthcare, and consumer industries titles – sound impossible? ITEM Media does it with style for the European edition of Interference Technology. They pull it off it through coordination of a solid network of partners to provide content, translation, and client contacts in each country.

ITEM Media turned to The Magazine Manager® for help in streamlining their operations. With multiple publications, countries, and languages to cover, the ability to track clients, execute sales calls, coordinate meetings and more, with one system – instead of multiple, incompatible systems – has been a huge time saver for the company. This freed up their existing staff to reach out to new clients and develop new products and services.

Since 1970, ITEM Media has provided practical, compelling content for their audience while creating a marketplace for buyers and sellers within the industries they cover. They provide a wide range of marketing services to suppliers, including branding, lead generation, market research, events, and more. The efficiencies and coordination gained through using The Magazine Manager® has lead to more readers, more customers, and uncovered gaps in their ad sales and marketing services programs (while freeing up staff to address those gaps).

All of this supports ITEM Media in their goal of providing quality content – as print, digital magazines, e-newsletters, social media feeds, and forums – to as many readers as possible through as many platforms and devices as possible.

If you are interested in a demo of The Magazine Manager, please contact Susan Beattie at 1-877-256-0362 or email

Creating Amazing Audio Content for Your Niche Magazine

Including audio elements into your content marketing plans for your niche magazine is a fantastic way to connect with readers on a whole new level. Audio features are great for creating interest and something new for your audience members. In an effort to help you get started with adding audio elements in your content marketing plans, we have put together a few helpful tips. Check them out:

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Be sure to check out a few tips for adding audio elements to your content marketing.

  • Understand the power of your voice: Your voice alone can help to draw in and keep the attention of your audience members. In order to make sure you are properly showcasing how interesting the content is that you are recording, make sure you express a good balance of emotion in your voice.
  • Use the right technology: It is also important to make sure you are using the right tools and technology to enhance your audio elements. The platforms and devices that you select to help produce your audio content should be high quality in order to get the best results.
  • Check your surroundings beforehand: It is crucial to ensure you are recoding your audio content in a quiet space in order to avoid having background noise slipping in. In addition, make sure you perform tests before running your audio content to ensure it sounds exactly right.
Audio content is an excellent way to connect with your readers on a whole new level. Make sure you take the right steps to ensure it is the best it can be for your audience members.



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Niched Out Magazine of the Month: 3W Magazine

Each month we pick a niche magazine that does a great job in its niche. This month’s pick: 3W Magazine. 

3W Magazine is the guide for the whowhat and where of the local philanthropic movement. It specifically targets those devoted to charitable social events specifically benefiting the community of Northwest Arkansas—a thriving region of the country where more than 300 Fortune 500 companies can be found, including Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt.  This annual publication is the only one of its kind in the state and is designed specifically for and about special events and fundraising. Talk about finding your niche!

3W boasts a readership in excess of 50,000, including direct mailing to nearly 7,000 residents with a household income of $150,000 or more. With vibrant images and engaging editorial, 3W is sophisticated, inspiring and original. They deliver a fresh perspective, keeping readers on top of what’s happening around town and beyond. 3W Magazine is going on its fifth year of inspiring a culture of giving in Northwest Arkansas—a deeply philanthropic and culturally rich community that they are proud to be a part of.

3 Ways to Stay On Top of Social Media

We often discuss the importance of managing various social media platforms for your niche publication. However, we know that staying on top of all these different platforms can be a bit challenging at times. We have rounded up some tips for staying on top of social media. Check them out:

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Check out some different ways to stay on top of social media.

  • Trending topics: Knowing what people are talking about is important for a wide variety of reasons. It is a good idea to check out the trending topics on Twitter to get a feel for what is going on and what people are currently discussing. This can help you shape your social media and content marketing plans as well.
  • Newsletters: Newsletters can be a very informative tool when it comes to staying up to date with social media. Be sure to sign up for various newsletters that pertain to your niche publication as well as social media so you can rest assured you are in-the-know.
  • Webinars: Perhaps you want to learn more in-depth information regarding social media and how to best use it for your niche magazine. If so, consider signing up for a webinar. These helpful sessions are convenient and offer valuable information.

It is important to stay up to date on the latest in social media to ensure you are putting your best foot forward when it comes to your niche magazine.




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5 Questions Every Ad Sales Person Should Ask

By Ryan Dohrn, President of 360 Ad Sales Training  

If you want to make more and bigger advertising sales for your magazine, then you need to have a plan for success before every call. I preach a lot about having an ad sales process and holding meetings that win business. Ad sales training is mostly about understanding that there are several ways to win an advertiser’s business, but the secret is finding the one that is most likely to result in a sale and will maximize the buy. So what’s the secret formula?

I have found that most meetings that win business are centered on the advertiser and have very little to do with the media you are selling. Sure, what you have to offer is an important factor, but if you spend 20 minutes talking about your offerings right off the bat you will get nowhere. The meeting must be about the advertiser. Their needs. Their desires. The things which are meaningful to them, like making money. So, how do you get to that winning moment where you ask for the order? You must first ask some really good questions of the advertiser. Lead them to the point where they realize that they need you more than you need them.

Here are 5 of the most critical sales questions every ad sales rep should ask on every sales call:

1. “If we could create the perfect ad for you, what would it look like and what is the outcome you expect from it?” Don’t be afraid to have them get specific. The more you know about what they expect from an ad campaign, the better equipped you are to put together the perfect package to meet their needs.

2.  “How many times does a new customer of yours need to see your advertising message before they make a decision to do business with you?” You can’t build an advertising plan for them without knowing what it takes to get a customer response.

3. “What ad campaigns/types of ads have worked for you over the last 12 months to meet your goals? Why did the ads work? What ads have not? Why did they not work?” Really listen. Later this will prepare you to respond to objections and to improve upon what they have done before.

4. “Are there any new products or services you will debut in the next 6 months?” You will be their hero if you can build a package that will help make their next venture a success.

5.  “What are the three main goals you are trying to accomplish with your advertising? Be specific.  How long have you been trying to reach these goals?”

Take lots of notes. Now you are prepared to make more and bigger sales by putting together the perfect integrated sales package for their needs!

70 Great Digital Revenue Ideas for Your Niche Magazine!

Every year our Niche Digital Conference attendees share their most successful digital revenue ideas.  Here’s a collection of 70 of their best ideas  just for you!

1. Exclusive advertisers: Allow one advertiser on a certain day of the month to occupy all the ad spots on each page of your entire website.

2.Create an archive of back issue digital editions that is fully searchable.  Make it available – for a fee – to existing and new subscribers.

3. Create a LinkedIN group for your niche.  Even if one exists, you might be able to make one that is better.

4. Offer to do video interviews/demos for sponsors & advertisers as part of a digital bundle. As an up sell, make it available on your site, on their site, and on DVD (for offline mailing).

5. Provide an RSS feed of news to advertisers with static websites. Most advertisers have dead, static sites and your content can liven them up and help them look more relevant. Use Feedburner to help.

6. When building an incentive plan for your sales team that provides a bonus for selling online, use total number of units sold rather than ad dollars to increase volume and keep the numbers simple and easy to track.

7. Use Tweets as a part of an ad package.  “If you buy from us we can Tweet a link to your web site or to your ad to our users” This is a HUGE benefit – do not give it away for free!

8. Our best response from email campaigns are personalized html text.   Intersperse graphics intensive efforts with “plain” text.  Try it, you’ll like the response rates you see.

9. Charge advertisers to run surveys against your audience.  Make sure that the survey is attached to a solid offer to get respondents.  When the budget is tight, often advertisers have research money allocated.  In addition, you can use this data to boost your sales data.

10. Evaluate new social media and get on board with ones that work for you: Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Then make a plan!

11. Create a unique incentive plan for your sales team that provides a bonus for selling online. Your margins are better in web, so pay a better commission. Or, structure a better plan for banners sold. Out of cash?  Give days off or free lunch. Get creative.

12. Create special holiday or seasonal digital editions. From holiday gift guides to summer camp guides, take ideas and turn them into digital-only special publications. Be sure to tell advertisers how you are going to tell the public about the special digital edition.

13. Register the .tv and .mobi for your main domain. Expand your offerings!

14. Create an e-newsletter from your sales team to your current advertisers. Create a list of your current clients and start sending out an e-newsletter. This should contain helpful hints, links to great articles, and deadline information. You can find great information about this on,, and

15. Use short videos to answer advertisers’ common questions. Is there a question that you are often asked by advertisers? Record an answer and create an answer archive. Keep it simple. Jing is a great tool for this type of sales tool.

16. Spread out your content! Don’t publish all of your magazine’s content online at the beginning of the month. Use the date stamping tools of your content management system to load your content all at one, but publish it piece by piece over a period of time.

17. Segment digital content by audience.  One extended education or training piece can be broken down into different segments based on the audience.  With one 60-minute lecture, you can sell an e-book, DVD, 12 “5 minute tips,” etc.

18. Stop giving digital away! Just stop it!

19. Create e-books from magazine content. You have years of content, so put it to good use. Create e-books around a specific topic.

20. Use a daily video tip to drive B2B sales. Advertisers like the exposure, and they are also your best experts. Have them pay to be the expert in a section on your site and record their answers to submitted questions.

21. Create an interactive media kit. A PDF just isn’t enough. Advertisers require more stimuli than ever before to make a decision. Also, they want information NOW! is a great example of an online media kit.

22. Monitor your SEO ranking and search volume monthly for key search terms. Each month you want a report that shows you where your site ranks for all the key terms that you have researched as important. Also, you want to re-run your key word research often. Raven is a good tool for this.

23. Create a social media interaction plan.  Each day a member of your team should be assigned to monitor and reply to social media comments. Assign days and make it mandatory.

24. Create a simple website sign-in with Facebook Connect. Make it as easy as possible for users to sign in to your web site. This is critical if you want to survey behavior or demo targeted advertising.

24. Place each email you collect on multiple e-mail lists.  This allows you to send topically based messages. If a user unsubscribes you will not lose them completely.  Instead you’ll just lose them from one list.  Be sure to tell/ask users about this practice.

25. Engage your audience and create community by forming self-serve classified portals on the web.  You can start free and offer paid up-sells.

26. Create an e-newsletter from your sales team to your current advertisers with content that that positions you as a leader in the marketplace. Fill it with industry news, local news, upcoming issues, current hot topics, and your social media offerings. (Not just ad deadlines!)

27. Use custom Facebook tabs to offer new product launches for your advertisers. Tabs can be simple HTML creations with embedded pictures, white papers, or videos.  Keep the run short: 7-10 days.

28. Develop a pricing matrix for digital ad opportunities based on the total spend with your publication to encourage a larger spend.

29. Upgrade your banner ad delivery system if you can’t give your advertisers solid stats and inventory reports. Use these stats, good or bad, to create conversations with your advertisers.

30. Sell videos on your site to current advertisers. Contract with a videographer or buy a camcorder and go to town. Making the video is also a great way to build your advertiser relationships and boost revenue at the same time.

31. Use Google alerts to keep up with news in your industry and your advertisers’ industries.

32. Make a photo CD particular to your industry from back issues (royalty-free, unlimited use). Sell the photo CD in your e-newsletter.

33. Add a product pavilion (an interactive directory) to your website for new products and services. Easy navigation & a simple look is key. Create a competitive environment by placing marquee ads in the pavilion and then use that to sell to their competitors.

34. Create category-specific custom editorial content, such as sponsored monthly articles about an advertiser’s area of expertise: health & fitness, automotive, sports & recreation, financial security, travel, etc.

35. Package print and web together in ad programs to create special sections aimed at niche markets within your niche market.  For instance, a resort destination magazine might create a package for marketing property management companies.

36. Set a goal to create at least three e-newsletter lists that are specific to your niche.  Monthly specific pushes need to be very specific and very driven.  Advertisers can provide and pay for content inclusion.  This is not another editorial e-newsletter.  New product updates, new services updates, legal updates: you name, create it.

37. Compilations!  Compile related archived content into a sponsored and/or paid eBook.

38. Sell 4-hour static banner ads on your web site.  Isolate several ad units on your web site and offer them to a single advertiser for a specific period of time during the day.  For example, a city and regional magazine might sell a static ad to a local café for 11am to 1pm.

39. Create a path of least resistance.  If you sell a complicated product with many options, select one for your audience and create a landing page (with a clear call to action) specific to that audience.  They can always customize later, but giving them an “easy button” starts the conversation.

40. Double up: Sell sponsorship of your digital edition and also the email blast releasing the digital edition to your subscribers.

41. Create co-op programs if they do not exist in your niche.  Go to the manufacturer and create the program for them, then go to the distributors and sell them on the program.  This is a win/win.

42. Create an online monthly promotional calendar and sell your advertisers into it.  Give away their products in all promotions and create a winning situation for your advertisers.  Plus, it saves you money because you do not have to buy prizes.  Without a promo calendar your sales team will not be able to sell ahead.

43. Boost digital magazine readership with a special 3D edition.  Send out 3D glasses with a special URL to the issue. (You can even get the glasses paid for by an exclusive sponsor.)

44. Attend trade shows with a small, but nice, video camera and interview your advertisers.  Take these behind the scenes videos and use them as content on your web site.  Only do this for serious advertisers or clients you are trying to get to advertise.

45. Social media MUST be a part of your new ad packages or you will miss out.  Price it in such a way that you show massive value at a great price.  Most sales people fail to show value in their ad packages.  What is your total value offering?

46. Podcasts:  Arm your editorial staff with audio recorders.  Every interview can also be a $.99 iTunes download.

47. Collect emails from a giveaway and do not give to the advertiser.  Instead, email on the advertiser’s behalf and drive people to their fan page or back to yours to find out the winner.  DO NOT email the winner’s name out.  If you do, why will people come back to the site?

48. Do not become guilty of paralysis by analysis – DO IT!  The beauty of the web is trial and error.  Give it a shot. If it does not work, shut it down.  IF you think about your web strategy for too long, then you will always find a reason not to move forward.

49. Produce and qualify sales leads by collecting detailed opt-in data from users who download and read your white papers, presentations, articles, product literature, or related content.

50. Assign a sales person to call people that send in press releases to your editorial team.  If they have a limited budget and are just looking for press, sell them into one of your many e-newsletters.

51. Sell links! WV Living Magazine’s – a designated wedding website – sells hyperlinks on their Wedding Checklist.  So when they say “Book Your Photographer”, when someone scrolls over it a photographer’s website appears.

52. Create bottom ad units on your web site to increase ad impressions.  Do not assume that since and ad is at the bottom of your web site that no one sees it.  If you have content on the page, have an ad near it.  Do not sell these units as a separate buy. Instead, run top ad buyers in the bottom slots too as a bonus and boost their total reach.

53. Use Facebook text ads to draw in fans.  Be careful to write them well and be specific.  These ads are cheap and can bring in a ton of fans fast.  Make your offerings very clear.  Be sure to isolate the ads to only what you “truly” offer.  Be specific.  Grow your fan base so that you can grow the amount you charge for reaching out to this fan base.

54. Take 300×250 banner ads and cut them in half.  Sell more space and increase frequency for your advertisers.  DO not create a blinking mess of a web site, but increase your inventory by having more ads units available.

55. Change up the format of your promotional emails.  Many companies have the exact same format for everything.

56. Ask advertisers if they have promo videos for their product or service.  Then, create a channel to house and offer these videos to your audience.  Most advertisers have spent a ton of money on these videos and want to use them.

57. Use a giveaway to promote a new product and expand your social media reach at the same time. One attendee launched a digital magazine (free) that was sponsored by advertising dollars and a supplement to our subscription-based site.  To generate interest and views, they had a sweepstakes to give away an iPad and free subscriptions to those that shared on Facebook, Twitter, their blog, or subscribed to our newsletter.
They had 80% growth in their Twitter followers, 25 blog mentions/posts, and 80% higher newsletter signups during the 1-month time frame of the sweepstakes!

58. Your list is the most important part a success email campaign!  Make sure you the right named contacts; continually update bad addresses; and always be prospect for new names.

59. Create comparison sheets for your sales team.  If you are the market leader you need to prove it when on a sales call.  Do not assume that your advertisers understands or cares about your competition.  Show them in black and white why you are bigger, badder and better.

60. Drop the 160×600 sky scraper ad units and replace with shorter sizes.  Skyscrapers are a bit old school and they take up too much space.

61. When redesigning your web site, make the advertising spots a serious priority.  Make sure that the sizing is right, the placement is right, and that you set up your advertisers for maximum ROI.

62. Use a phone tracking system to help your clients track calls from your magazine.  Call tracking services are cheap and being able to prove that people called from your ad in your magazine will help with renewals.

63. Hold monthly “lunch and learns” for your clients.  Use a good old fashioned phone conference call system and set these meetings up in advance.  Invite one speaker to talk about a topic that is important to your advertisers.  Focus on digital issues and help educate your advertisers.   Become a resource!

64. Use Youtube to draw a crowd.  There are many video serving options, but Youtube can help you with free distribution and SEO.  You can often work around the Google ads on the videos by looking closely at your descriptions.  Google ads on the videos are driven via the title and descriptions you provide.

65. Often advertisers are THE experts in the industry.  Ask them to create content.  You often can charge for this type of exposure.  Make sure that they know to soft sell or they will lose their impact.

66. Encourage advertisers to use custom URLs to track success.  If you look close at Google analytics, you will see a traffic statistic called direct traffic.  This can account for as much as 20% of total traffic and most advertisers do not track their direct traffic.  Make sure you get credit for traffic that you drive to an advertiser’s website.

67. Balance editorial calendar against SEO research. Use key word research tools to determine what web users are “really” searching for… then write content about those topics.

68. Grow revenue by selling leaderboards as a package.  Bundle newsletters, websites, digital editions, and mobile apps for a premium price.

69. Fill out your own contact and subscription forms to make sure they are user-friendly and collect useful data.

70. Get creative with your digital editions! Brainstorm extras to add value, like a hobby or home magazine that has a do-it-youself project linked to a parts list and extra step-by-step photos (or even a link to an auto-filled shopping cart through a sponsoring store).

Have an awesome digital revenue idea that we missed? Or have you been really successful using some of the techniques above? We’d love to hear about it in the comments or at

The Niche Digital Conference will take place in Chicago, September 24-25, 2012.

Design Dos and Don’ts that Boost Content Marketing: Part I

Design is a very crucial part of successful content marketing. While you can put together a great piece of content marketing, the design of it can often make it or break it. In order to help you boost the success of your content marketing, we have put together a two-part series on the dos and dont’s of design and content marketing. Check out the first part of our series:

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Check out part one of our series on design dos and don'ts.

  • Do engage the audience: Design is often the first element of any content marketing piece that will attract the attention of your audience members. In order to engage your readers, it is important that you create an eye-catching design that suggests an understanding of the target audience’s industry.
  • Do guide the reader: Good design guides the reader throughout the piece of content marketing without the reader even knowing. Make sure the text is sized appropriately in order to allow for reading without too much confusion. Also be sure to include call out boxes and charts to explain information that is difficult to get through in words alone.
  • Do reinforce the brand: One main goal of content marketing is reinforcing the brand. Make sure you are using design that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also reinforces the brand as well to bring the reader back to the main purpose of the piece.

Boosting your content marketing strategies can be done through design. Be sure to stay tuned for the second part of our series where we will address the don’ts of design and content marketing.



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Tips for Making Sure Readers See Your Email Images

E-Newsletters are an excellent way for your niche publication to stay connected to readers. One element that is necessary to any e-newsletter is the image. Pictures immediately draw the attention of the recipient, which means it is crucial that your images not only be remarkable, but able to be seen as well. Take a peek at a few tips for making sure readers see your email images:

Niche Media

Take a peek at some tips for making sure readers see the images in your emails.

  • Check the weight and size: One of the first things you should do when making sure readers can see your email images is understanding the size and weight requirements. Get a better idea of what makes an image too big by talking with your email service provider to learn more about what the requirements are.
  • Use meaningful tags: The text that goes along with an image is just as important as the image itself. Make sure you are using meaningful tags for your images in order for them to reach full potential. Consider using tags as an opportunity for a call to action to help readers get involved.
  • Test it out: It is crucial to test your email with images to make sure you know how it will look when it hits your readers’ inbox. This will also give you a better idea of what readers are seeing when they open the email so that you can adjust it accordingly.
Having a great e-newsletter is important to your niche magazine. Make sure you are taking every step to help it reach the full potential.



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Managing Your Magazine’s Online Success

We often discuss how important social media platforms are to your niche publication. However, it can sometimes be difficult to understand if your social media efforts are paying off. We have put together a few ways to monitor success in order to get a better idea of what is working and what is not working when it comes to your social media strategies. Take a look:

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Check out some ways to manage your niche magazine's online success.

  • Are you engaging fans? Being active in engaging your audience members is a large component that contributes to the success of your magazine’s online presence. Consider building strong, intimate relationships with loyal readers who value the magazine instead of trying to recruit as many fans as possible.
  • Are you adding value to the content? It is also a good idea to create content that is remarkable, interesting and valuable. Take some time to sit down and listen to what your readers are saying. You will most likely be able to get a better grasp on what they would like to see more of and less of.
  • Are you monitoring feedback? Your readers can be your biggest tool when it comes to managing the success of your online success. Make sure you are not only looking at the feedback, but taking it into careful consideration in order to know what to modify.
While it may seem as though social media success can be difficult to measure, there are certain steps you can take in order to boost your magazine’s online efforts.




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