Among the more unique marketing ideas for small businesses is a personally branded magazine. It’s high on the list of the most effective relationship marketing tactics used by real estate agents, financial advisors, insurance and mortgage brokers, lawyers, and other entrepreneurs who offer professional services as part of their brand strategy.
Sending a personally branded magazine is an affordable, high-ROI branding and marketing strategy that allows senders to remain consistently in front of their target audience and makes it easy to follow up with recipients and garner potential new leads.
If you’ve been thinking about investing in your own personally branded magazine but haven’t been able to decide if it’s the right move for you and your business, then this blog is for you. As part of an overall, long-term relationship marketing strategy, and in light of the three reasons explained below, you’ll know in the next several minutes if what has worked for tens of thousands of business owners will work for you.
1. A personally branded magazine gets you through the door, past the trash can, and onto the coffee table.
It’s no secret that typical direct mail marketing fails to make any lasting impression on consumers. At least 44% of direct mail sent to US households is dropped unceremoniously into the nearest trash can without ever being opened, read, or appreciated. Unopened, unread, and unappreciated doesn’t bode well for your brand awareness campaign—or your limited budget.
The demise of so much marketing can be traced back to two causes: first, an abundance of direct mail fails to capture its audience’s attention, and, second, most of it doesn’t provide any relevant value to those who receive it.
But a personally branded magazine isn’t like other direct mail marketing—it certainly isn’t treated by recipients like other direct mail. The differences between a conventional piece of direct mail and a branded magazine are so dramatic, marketers should place them in separate categories.
Distinction among mediocrity
American households receive about 848 pieces of direct mail every year, and, in the eyes of consumers, one piece of direct mail is as unremarkable as the next.
A personally branded magazine, however, is different. It’s not associated with inane, mass-marketing efforts. It carries with it a sense of indulgence and aspiration if only because it looks so different.
A branded magazine is larger, thicker, heavier, and more colorful than the white, anonymous envelopes we’ve grown accustomed to finding in our mailboxes. It generally has an eye-catching cover, and the higher-quality magazines are often printed on glossy paper that gives them a rich look and feel.
And these differences make a spectacular difference for marketers, brand managers, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners. All you need to do is reflect on your own experience to know that the benefits of a personally branded magazine include its ability to attract exceptional attention.
Think about it—when was the last time you received a magazine or catalog in your mailbox and didn’t take it inside to peruse its pages?
Value amidst junk
By definition, something with no perceived value is junk. The abundance of direct mail marketing is labeled junk for precisely this reason—it holds no value for the recipient and becomes garbage that gets thrown away or recycled. Even organizations that solicit donations forget that it’s the donors, and their needs, wants, and desires, who crave to be the focus of the appeals.
A personally branded magazine, on the other hand, offers an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs and small-business owners to provide ongoing value to their contacts, and, once it’s through the door, it’s the value that will keep it on the coffee table.
So what do I mean by value? It’s pretty much anything that the recipient perceives as useful, entertaining, or educational. And what’s super beneficial about a magazine is you can deliver all three in one glorious package!
For example, value delivered in the form of help is one of the best strategies for getting prospects into your sales funnel and for reinforcing a relationship between a brand and its community. Some of Amazon’s best-selling magazines offer help with articles about lifestyle, gardening, health, travel, and, especially since quarantine, recipes.
2. A personally branded magazine is cost-effective and, when automated, easy to send to all your contacts.
There are times when you want to provide a client with a personal gift. Real estate agents, for example, like to provide a gift after a closing. A financial advisor may provide a gift after a contract is signed or an estate plan is put into place. My friend had a lawyer who gave her a gift after her divorce was finalized. (It was a daylong spa getaway.)
These are all very nice gifts, and I’m sure they’re appreciated. (Truth be told, my friend loved her spa day.)
Even so, as a long-term strategy, bottles of wine, gift cards, plants, and the like aren’t sustainable for solopreneurs and smaller businesses when compared to an automated magazine because:
- They can be expensive.
- They can be time-consuming.
- They’re not very personal.
- Their value is short-lived, and
- They’re a one-time gesture that feels sort of obligatory.
It may surprise you to learn that a personally branded magazine is none of these things.
If you were to take a look at the magazine racks in a bookstore or grocery store, you’d see a wide range of prices. Depending on the magazine, a single issue might cost anywhere from $5 to $15. The cost of a 12-month subscription for these same magazines would be higher, but the range would be equally wide.
To get a more focused look at magazine prices, I consulted Amazon.com for well-known magazines that featured articles on the most popular topics listed above. I compared the number of issues in a 12-month subscription, the reported retail prices, and the discount prices. Here’s what I found:If you were to send a 12-month subscription of Golf Digest (the least expensive per issue) to fifty contacts, it would cost you $2,394. If you went the other way and sent a 12-month subscription of Rachael Ray in Season (the most expensive per issue) to the same fifty contacts, you’d spend $1,998.
Not bad, you say (especially if it’s tax deductible) . . . but you get what you pay for.
Nothing about these magazines is personal, and each of them appeals to a narrow demographic—likely leaving many of your contacts thinking, Why the heck would they send me this? Even if you picked a subscription with each contact in mind, that’s a time-consuming task, and, personally, I wouldn’t be able to sustain that administrative task for very long.
There’s also nothing special about them. As something you’d send to your clients and prospects, they’re sort of . . . well, cheap-looking (despite their cost), and not much better than branded marketing products like a pen or keychain. And they absolutely don’t promote the kind of impression that a professional would want to make.
Value for you and your contacts
A personally branded magazine is going to be priced based on a minimum number of copies. Some companies may charge a fee based on tiers—for example, 50-100 is one price while 101-200 is another. Other companies may set one price no matter how many you order.
Additionally, while you might be able to find a branded magazine devoted to one subject, a personally branded magazine that includes a variety of articles on different subjects is going to have a wider appeal. It’ll have something for everyone.
And then there’s the quality to consider.
A high-quality, personally branded magazine will be a comfortable size—one that allows a recipient to lay it flat for relaxed reading but not so small or large that it couldn’t be comfortably held while drinking an afternoon cup of tea. And while a larger size connotes quality (consider catalogs from high-end jewelers), remember that the larger the size, the more expensive it is to mail.
The cover is super important. Like a poor email subject line, a drab cover won’t entice anyone to open it. The cover should attract attention, be representative of the content, and be inviting. It should also be printed on paper heavier than the internal pages. (If it’s not, you may as well call it a pamphlet.)
If you want to remove a page (like a printed recipe a contact wants to keep), then the paper will ideally be thick enough that a tight crease is needed to make a clean rip—anything that can rip easily without a fold will. And, of course, all its pages will be printed in full color.
Finally, what’s a personally branded magazine without the personal branding?
In large part, the value of a personally branded magazine and why it works to keep you top of mind is because it prominently and consistently displays your brand, which enables you to stay in front of your contacts.
A high-quality, personally branded magazine will maximize the number of opportunities you have to include your photo, your brand (including your logo), and your contact information. At a minimum, you want this information to appear on the front and back covers.
Easy administration (because you have a business to run)
Entrepreneurs and small business owners wear a large number of hats and, to be frank, not all of them fit well.
Marketing, for example, is an increasingly demanding field that requires an ever-changing, specialized set of skills. Among other abilities, a marketer needs technical expertise, savvy persuasive skills, analytical skills, and the ability to define and precisely target an audience.
Besides, what entrepreneur or small business owner do you know who has the time to post and respond consistently to their social media followers, let alone plan for the writing, laying out, printing, and mailing of a personally branded magazine? Let’s be serious . . . marketing is one of those areas of business best left to the experts, while you concentrate on running your business, serving your clients and customers, and having follow-up discussions with your leads.
The best arrangement is to have a reputable company manage all aspects of the process. That would include administering logo design, magazine production, customization, creation of mailing lists, tracking, routine shipping, and reporting.
3. A personally branded magazine consistently keeps you in touch with your contacts.
The most important reasons for adding a personally branded magazine to your marketing mix are: (1) It keeps you consistently in front of your contacts, which is exactly where you need to be to stay top of mind, and (2) it is the best follow-up tool on the planet because it makes your follow-up calls exceptionally easy.
While social media is an indispensable marketing tool, navigating algorithms can be an unrelenting task. And even though you may consistently post to Facebook and Instagram, that doesn’t mean you are going to consistently be found.
With a printed magazine, you don’t need to worry about “cracking the code.” Nor do you need to be concerned with keywords, optimizing headlines for SEO, bidding for the top spot on Google, or character limits. As another blogger put it, with a branded magazine, “You simply generate a beautiful customer experience.”
As I noted in the beginning, relationship marketing is a long-term game that requires a long-term strategy. If you don’t remain in front of your clients, they will forget you—and someone who doesn’t remember who you are can’t give you a referral or repeat business. That’s why consistency is critically important.
It’s also important because consistency breeds familiarity and familiarity builds trust—a prerequisite for doing business.
When a personally branded magazine is automated to reliably arrive in a recipient’s mailbox every few weeks, they come to expect it. If it’s a high-quality magazine that delivers value, then they even look forward to receiving it as they would a gift. They see your face and branding time after time, and, pretty soon, you become known as that agent, broker, lawyer, or (fill in the blank) with that great magazine.
From there, it’s only a short step to being the first and only name a client remembers when a referral is requested.
You probably already know this, but sales follow-up statistics are abysmal:
Why is it that salespeople don’t make nearly enough follow-up calls to close a deal? There are a lot of reasons, but Ryan Stewman of Hardcore Closer offers these six:
- They don’t have a lead follow-up process.
- They have new leads to distract them.
- They’re afraid they’ll hear “no.”
- They don’t want to come across as pushy or desperate.
- They haven’t earned the right to follow up, and they know it.
- They didn’t pay for the lead and resent the smaller commission split.
I can’t speak to all of these reasons, but I can tell you that a personally branded magazine will provide a flawless and easy-to-implement lead follow-up system that can keep you in touch with the people in your sphere. Here’s how it can work:
- First, your magazine gets sent to a list of recipients.
- Next, the week your magazine arrives in mailboxes, you call your most valuable clients.
- Third, you ask if they received your magazine.
- Fourth, based on your database notes, you draw their attention to a specific article you think they might like.
- Then you let the conversation develop organically.
- Finally, you thank them for being a client and let them know you’re always available to help.
Your magazine gives you a perfect reason to call. Your conversation can be short, and it should be authentic—remember, you’re just checking in to say hi. You’re not calling to pitch a sale, so that will put you and them at ease. Combine these calls with your other marketing tactics, and pretty soon the whole process becomes effortless.
Why you need a personally branded magazine
If you’ve committed yourself to relationship marketing, or if you’re looking for something different that allows you to be consistent in your outreach, then the reasons for sending an automated, high-quality, personally branded magazine as part of your overall marketing strategy are clear:
- You distinguish yourself as a professional with marketing that shows attention to detail and stands out from the crowd.
- You build goodwill because you put the focus on your clients by delivering value they will use and enjoy.
- You free yourself from time-sucking administrative tasks, thereby allowing you to focus on serving and providing even more value to your clients.
- You stay consistently in front of your audience, which is paramount to remaining top of mind for referrals and repeat business.
- You have a stress-free follow-up system that makes starting an authentic conversation simple and organic.
If you want to explore using a personally branded magazine for your business, then check out any of our three professional publications. Click one link or all three, and we’ll send you a free sample PDF to your in-box:
- American Lifestyle: A publication celebrating travel, food, home decor, interior design, lifestyle, and more.
- Start Healthy: A health and wellness publication for those wanting to live a healthier life.
- Good to Be Home: A home and garden publication with short articles and a “how-to” flair.
Good to Be Home is our newest magazine, while American Lifestyle and Start Healthy have been featured by Feedspot on their list of the “Top 20 Lifestyle Magazines & Publications To Follow in 2021.”
All three magazines:
- Include six opportunities to feature your branding: The Front Cover, the Front Inside Cover, the Back Cover, the Back Inside Cover, and two Tear-out Cards that typically feature recipes, DIY tips, or other helpful information.
- Are automatically mailed every eight weeks to your exclusive list of addresses. No one else can mail to your addresses and there are no additional shipping costs.
- Have a letter printed on the Inside Front cover that you can customize down to the individual recipient, taking the idea of “personalized marketing” to an entirely new level.
Each 48-page magazine features gorgeous photos and engaging articles printed on the highest-quality glossy paper for a rich, professional look and feel.
Whether you choose one of our magazines or someone else’s, the benefits of sending your sphere a personally branded magazine will help you build and nurture long-lasting relationships. With distinctive value that delivers consistent touchpoints, a personally branded magazine is the perfect tool to keep you top of mind, garner referrals, and encourage repeat business.
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