The latest round of numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulation are out and, of course, so are the latest round of prognostications from all of the prognosticators in the publishing industry. For the next week, my in box will be flooded with story after story about the decline of print (inevitable) and “what must be done” (get with the program) and how we’re “shooting ourselves in the foot” and how “Barnes and Noble is the next Tower Records” and…
The best stories, of course will center around newsstand sales and how troubling the declines are and how difficult the industry is and how the internet and the iPad and the new Android tablets are eating us all up and how…well, it’s Monday morning and I’m already exhausted.
You get the picture.
I’m not enough of a Pollyana to deny that the magazine industry in general and the single copy side of the business in particular isn’t in trouble. But all of these writers and prognosticators and bloggers and opinion makers and number crunchers are failing, in my opinion, to catch a key point.
Here’s a big part of the problem:
This photograph was taken in a busy national chain supermarket on a bright Saturday morning the day before the Superbowl. Actually, it was one of three open spots on the mainline. This is Saturday, this is store that receives pre-weekend deliveries of their magazines.
This isn’t the only store like this. I may not travel as much as I used to, but I do get into a lot of retail and I see this all over the stores I visit.
If you do a poor job of delivering and merchandising, you remove the possibility of making a sale. You have to have local knowledge of the retailers in your equation when you deliver your product. You have to understand your stores and the magazines that your are putting into those stores. After all, we’re selling to people.
We have to do a better job of merchandising our racks. We can’t rely of chance and circumstance anymore to drive single copy sales. We can’t leave it all in the hands of our wholesalers and not give them the proper tools to do their jobs. The racks have to look good. The mix has to be right. And most importantly, we publishers must be working our tails off to drive our readers to the newsstand to buy copies.
The real story of newsstand should be more about publishers like WWE who are committed to social media and use it and creative merchandising ideas and attractive, promotion packed magazines to develop their single copy sales. Even Playboy Magazine got into the act this fall with their Golden Ticket promotion. We need more of this. Much more!
As an industry, we seem to be in a perpetual defensive crouch. There is no reason for this. We sell several billion dollars worth of product each year. New companies crop up and launch new magazines every year. Retailers who used to never carry magazines approach our distributors each year and we constantly open up new markets. So we must have value. But we must do a better job of merchandising and marketing, selling and promoting.
Otherwise, every six months, we’re going to bump into this guy.
Frankly, I’m a little tired of this guy.