Len Roberto is audience development director at Canon Communications, which recently augmented its lineup of medical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing titles with the acquisition of three engineering magazines and one packaging title from Reed Business Information-US.
Media Business: How's business for you these days?
Over the past year and a half there was a steady decline, but I think things are starting to turn up. Our decline probably wasn't as bad as others', and March was a pretty good month for us. We're seeing the number of list orders going up, although people are renting fewer names, taking smaller chunks.
MB: What are you doing new?
A big thing we're doing with the new titles we're receiving is analyzing our total master file. We're looking at where the synergies are, with big pockets associated with certain titles, and creating new lists. For example, with the Reed acquisitions, we now have quite a lot of readers with design engineering titles. So we're looking at offering new types of lists there, such as a Canon Medical Engineer database. We'll use our added brands to up-sell our list renters while staying flexible on price.
We're also looking for new avenues of promotion. We might see a trend where, for example, a lot of universities or colleges are renting our lists because they have programs related to our medical books. So we'll target them. We're also appending as much as possible, with such details as number of employees or sales volume.
MB: What other kinds of appending are you doing to enrich your contact information?
We've done a lot of e-mail appending, but the results have been mixed. Say one of our titles has 20,000 subscribers, but only 14,000 e-mail addresses. Well, there is a reason the other 6,000 don't want to give us their e-mails. As a result, we've had some poor results when we appended these additional e-mails. They don't respond well. They don't want things pushed down their throats. Believe it or not, some people don't want to get e-mail from third parties.
MB: What are you doing in servicing Canon's advertisers?
We're seeing an increase in our own advertisers asking to do programs with us. We'll try to craft programs like e-mail campaigns, advertorials, newsletters and webinars. And it's much more in-depth now; clients want to get very specific, sometimes by renting only 1,000 names. They're wanting specific job titles, say, VPs of engineering instead of directors of engineering.
MB: What does the rest of the year look like for you?
My crystal ball is a little murky, but for us it goes back to trying to work directly with the client or advertiser and drilling down to what they want. Sometimes they're not even sure. So we'll go back and ask for more specific details on demographics, for example, or geography or sales volume of their intended target audience. That forces them to re-evaluate, and everyone is better for it.
We also want to look at their creative and be consultative. I'm shocked at what some of them want us to send out, breaking every rule of direct marketing best practices. We'll offer them some suggestions, and sometimes they change and sometimes they don't. We're having that problem with one client now; they haven't changed their creative in six months. —C.H.
Audience development director, Canon Communications