You are a successful magazine publisher, hitting your stride, feeling good about the health of your niche market. Your editorial content is widely respected, your readership is growing and you have a healthy bank of advertisers. All good, right?
So what do you do about a NEW competitor? And how can you turn that competition to your advantage?
My 7 smart tips on what to do in the face of new competition:
1. Start with facts. If the other guys claim that they have any circulation before the first issue has come out, that is ridiculous. This is a good time to get YOUR numbers in order, too. It’s not just about circulation, however. You need to deeply research your audience, your market, and what’s changing now.
2. Be confident: Take it seriously, but don’t be threatened. Remember, your team and your advertisers will pick up on your attitude about it. Don’t spend time worrying whether the competition could affect you in a negative way financially. Instead, focus on an action plan.
3. Take an objective look at how you stack up. Document differentiation of audience, circulation, editorial, production quality, number of ad pages and views and branding. How do you really compare against the competition? What are both of your strengths and weaknesses?
4. Be ready to make a competitive pitch. Have all your stats about audience, editorial, CPM comparison, and distribution all ready to go. I always have a one page cheat sheet against every one of my competitors in my office with 10 reasons and benefits why we’re better. Only use this on a case-by-case basis, in conversations with advertisers. (Do not to send it to everyone.) You can also show any numbers you have that prove your circulation. You can suggest to the advertisers that they have the right to ask the new magazine for proof of circulation, too.
5. Never bash the competitor in a sales presentation. It just makes you look unprofessional, and you will not look like a credible source. Never put competitive information on your website, in presentations or in your media kit. Your prospect may not even know about all those competitive titles. Why lead with this information?
6. Reach out. I’d personally call the new publisher and try to get to know them. I don’t see how that can hurt. You’re in control now of the market. Sure, they say to keep your enemies close, but there may be enough room for possible partnerships on events, etc. in the future. Keep an open mind.
7. Learn from them. What are they doing right? Maybe they have a great website with very good content. Think about what areas you can target for improvement. For example, what can you do to improve your online property? Is it possible you were getting too comfy and complacent before the new guys came on the scene?
Competition can be a very good thing. It can boost your creativity and make you realize that although you have been pretty darn good at serving your niche, you can do even better. Plus it drives you to provide the very best print and online product for your readers and advertisers.
Embrace the change. A little competition can spur you to make your very good magazine……..great!
More about Carl: Carl Landau is Grand Poobah of Niche Media. He is a media/event guru, SF Giants fan, podcast host and part-time blogger. His 15 minutes of fame took place in the mid-eighties when he launched his famous, “Buy an Ad, Get a Cat” ad campaign. He has long since patched things up with the SPCA.
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