Massive mailings to support sales
An 80-page magazine came to market 21 years ago. Now an empire has been built ... with 13 major trade publications, scores of support services and dozens of other offerings.
The company is Asian Sources, the largest trade publisher in Asia and one of the largest in the world. Recently I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and visit with a large group of their people. People from Tokyo to Thailand, from Singapore to Seoul, from India to Indonesia.
The leader is Merle Hlnrichs, who with his associate founded the company in 1971. After a most uncertain start, Asian Sources now publishes titles that reach readers in 165 countries around the world in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.
As Hinrichs says: "Clearly, the company could not have experienced growth if Asia had not undergone its economic miracle ... 20 years envolvement from being makers of low-end, low-tech general merchandise to manufacturers of sophisticated electronics, timepieces, hardware and fashion goods."
In 1974 an electronics title began. Hardware in 1976. Fashion in 78. Electronic Components in 79. Timepieces in 1980, Gilts & Home Products in 1982 and Computer Products in 1983. Collectively these magazines are now almost 50 times the size of the first edition of Asian Sources.
In the supposed hard times of late, Asian Sources has enjoyed a 25% growth rate in both 1989 and 1990 and nearly that in 1991. Much of this growth came from new publications such as Electronics News for China, World Economy & Trade, Japan Import Magazine and the newest in the stable, Traveler.
How do they do it? For the most part it is with direct response marketing techniques. Yes, they have a very active even aggressive outside sales force. They talk about visiting 1,200 business executives every business day.
And they support thee sales representatives with direct mail. Monthly, on every publication. To the target atom them into customers.
Here are some things they do to keep this fantastic growth rate moving upward. Surveys. On a regular basis an independent survey company reaches out on behalf of a specific publication and asks questions to help Asian Sources know what the marketplace wants, needs, expects. This method is applicable to both adverffsers as well as subscribers.
Because so much of the manufacturing marketplace is trade ahow-oriented, special editions for the trade show circuit are prepared. And mailings about these special events are a regular happening. Flyers, which summaries the show schedulea from around the world, are made available to all who might wish to advertise. And, of course, to those who might plan on attending.
Support for both advertisers and subscribers comes in the form of some special travel services, too. One is a set of illustrated guidebooks on various countries and key cities in Asia Very reasonable prices yet still a profit centre and including the type of data that the business/trader/traveller wants to know.
Direct mail, as a support piece to gain new advertisera, is, has been and will continue to be a major ingredient to a profitable magazine. Asian Sources uses lots of mail. All of it very targeted (they told me some of their mailings are under400 pieces total and rarely is any mailing over a few thousand).
The mail is usually specifically dated (May 2, 1992), sent first class, uses typewriter type and signed. It includes a flyer or brochure of same sort. The letter and the flyer might both explain the offer. Many times the offer is timely, such as an upcoming trade show special opportunity. All of this is in a standard size mailing envelope.
There are always at least two ways to reply: telephone and facsimile. Fax has become the number one way prospects get back in touch with Asian Sources. Over 75% of their replies are now received by fax. Which of course makes sense if you're on a deadline (and in tho get an important message to your key contact, who may be in another country.
Offers are varied. Sometimes it is extra show exposure. Sometimes it is a 13 time buy for a 12 time rate. Sometimes it is a bonus ad in a special edition publication. One such offer includes the title Made in the Philippines (or in Indonesia or in Thailand).
Postcards are also a part of the Asian Sources mix. In most cases these jumbo cards are part of a aerioa of contacts made wffl potential advertisers. Introducing a special edition, or yearbook issue, or special offer ... like order now and lock In this y s rates for all of next year.
The telephone has always been a business tool for the Asian Sources sales rep. Now it is becoming more formalised ... telemarketing is beginning to support the sales effort. In most cases the programme is maiVphone, then maybe mail again and phone again. The next might be to pass the lead along to the outside sales rep. More and more actual sales are being made over the telephone.
Subscribers to an Asian Sources publication are carefully screened. One of the key advertising sales points is that only tally potential buyers get the magazine. At the same time there is a continuing and on-going active effort to get (and keep!) subscribers. Direct mail is the main tool in this drive.
Special offer mailings are also made ... such as an upgrade to airmail delivery, vs surface. Since this can easily be another $100US ticket item, it takes a strong letter package.
As Asian Sources marches through 1992, these efforts, and many, many more, have produced a series of publications that combined make-up nearly 4,000 pages every month. A great success story.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.