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  • by Ilse House

A Magazine About Me! Awards & Competitions – Powerful Marketing Tools Part 3

How do you add meaning for your subscribers? In recent years, magazines have struggled to stay in existence. I have watched as one of the publishers I have worked with for years reduce a dozen magazine titles down to one. The last decade has been tough for publications.

Yet, I receive a magazine subscription which has survived and appears to be flourishing. Thinking outside the box, they approached their magazine in a completely different way than the traditional magazine model. Their readership is transformed into a core part of their offering not just the consumer of their product. Developing a deeper relationship with their patrons makes it a more meaningful product. It becomes something of value beyond the information on their pages. And the readers have responded by giving the magazine something of value in return. It is a beautiful, symbiotic relationship.

I am a fan. I have paid the magazine $325.00 for my FREE subscription this year. Happily paid it. “What!?” you say. Let me explain.

This “creative” magazine has 6 issues a year. They have at least 3-4 competitions a year. I just entered one of the smaller ones. There were 6,000 entries into this particular contest. Each entry is $75. Out of the submissions, 15% of the best were selected as winners. There is not a 1st, or 2nd, etc. When you win, you are invited to publish your winning project in the issue highlighting the competition. If you choose to be published, it costs $250 for each submission. Last year’s issue was almost 30 pages of winner content.

From my perspective, it is a triumph for all involved. I get published as a winner, which is very cool. I get to add it to my resume. Winning gives me a story to promote myself on the social media stage. It provides advertising for my clients and projects. Well worth the investment for me. I am ecstatic! The magazine gets paid for the pages they print making it more profitable for them. Each full page of winners makes $1,500 for the magazine.

There is a demand for the resulting issues. The readers love it because we get inspiration from the displayed work. I keep the competition and color forecast issues for a long time. On my workstation are issues dating back to 2004. I still refer to them when I am starting a new project and I need a shot of inspiration.

The magazine is free. It is easy to subscribe. The magazine is not bound to only paying subscribers. By not charging, they increase their subscriber base making their readership numbers great. This is a value to the advertisers creating a good return on the pages they buy. The advertisers get a very targeted audience. From the ongoing ads I have seen (and used) over my time I have received the magazine, it looks to be successful for them as well. They would not advertise year after year if it wasn’t profitable to do so.

Another smart move the magazine makes is it will send five letters out to whomever you choose and explaining how important the award is to the creative community. Got a boss that doesn’t understand, add them to the list. Got a client that you want to show off to, they will send them a letter. Great marketing for both the winner and the magazine’s competition while adding credibility to both.

And for the icing on the cake, the magazine provides an order form if you would like to receive duplicates of your certificate and/or a plaque. One more income stream for the publisher. Brilliant.

I always stress the importance of keeping the core values pure. Integrity is one of the most important. If you decide to develop a contest, keep the quality of the winners at a higher caliber. If you pick winners just so they will pay for publishing, you devalue the resulting product and will lose readership. Hence, you will lose advertisers and credibility. Everyone wins when competitions are done right.

Please look for more blogs featuring my observations on using awards and competitions as powerful marketing tools.


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