Monday, December 20, 2010

Does Your Magazine Have A Unique Selling Proposition?

by Allison Onyett

Last week I came up with the idea of purchasing magazine subscriptions for a few friends and close family members for Christmas. I liked the idea of giving an affordable gift that they would receive all year long. My only problem was choosing which magazines to subscribe to. Most subscriptions can be purchased online (making it an easy gift to give for those long distance relatives), but to get some initial ideas I headed to a local bookstore to browse through their wide selection of publications.

There were so many options at my finger tips – especially for the fashion lover or teenager in my life. Part of me started to wonder how some of these magazines are able to make a profit considering the endless options to choose from. How can you tell one magazine apart from the other, since they all seem to offer the same regurgitated information? After purchasing a grab-bag of monthly issues, which will hopefully satisfy the recipients and cater to their unique interests, I began to think of how saturated the industry is. Would a new publication even be noticed amongst the hordes of already popular issues on the stand? What kind of market share would they get?

Forever the optimist, I do believe that if your long term goal is to launch your own publication (which mine is), don’t get discouraged but keep in mind that you need to have a “unique selling proposition” (USP) – a new angle or concept that is difficult to duplicate so that you can successfully penetrate the market, and reach out to potential investors. This isn’t easy to come by, and takes some serious business planning, market research and creative ingenuity.

For more information on creating your own unique selling proposition so that your cover or on-line publication will catch the attention of potential subscribers I highly recommend taking some marketing or entrepreneurship courses, searching the web and talking to friends and family about your ideas. What would make your target market choose your publication over all the others? Why is your magazine so special (besides the fact that you’ve slaved over it for the past month, creating the perfect edition)? One website that I noticed was – I felt that I got a really good overview of what a USP is and I enjoyed their excellent examples. They’re also certainly not the only website out there: as soon as I searched Google for some information, my screen was flooded with an endless stream of websites dedicated to the topic.

So, to all you entrepreneurs in the publishing industry, don’t become disheartened the next time you walk past a newsstand. I hold firm that it is possible to create a compelling USP, and look forward to seeing some new, original covers adoring local magazine stands – and potentially someday my own.