[Photo Cred Jessica Spengler (cc) http://www.flickr.com/people/wordridden/ ]
You have seen these things in your mailbox, driveway and on the way out of the supermarket. Small magazines with great deals from local businesses. Some people call them throw-away’s because most people do just that. But enough people respond that businesses are willing to pay for advertising. This business offers an opportunity internet age. As newspapers budgets get as advertisers migrate to the web, business lack a way to get connected with customers via print advertising. Print advertising has it’s advantages. Customers can clip coupons, or save the ad, and it is easier for them to remember the ad.
For instance, General Motors recently dropped advertising on Face Book because they did not think it was selling cars. Article Other advertisers feel that internet ads help them to connect with younger consumers. The same thing is being discovered by local businesses. Internet advertising is not a good choice to connect with every demographic.
There must be some big publishing company behind these things. WRONG.
It takes a huge investment to publish these things. WRONG
I must have a college degree and really good spelling/grammar skills to publish. ÜBER-WRONG
Go with an pre-packaged community publications
Who Knows http://www.hoo-knows.com/content/faqs Hoo-Knows is a company that will publish your ad magazine. It takes a bit over $5,000 to get started. (They currently have a $1,000 special to get started. We are not sure if this is the real price or just temporary.) Their magazines are 32 or 64 pages long and about 4”x6” in size. They have several categories including “home and family” which you used to see in your mail box. They also have guides for eating out, for pet parents, for health and fitness services, for home improvement, and for business services. They also provide a limited amount of content—but that does not pay the bills—or you can have articles written by or on the behalf of your advertisers. In addition to this they have on-line training included in the package price. It looks like they are no-longer in California; but there is nothing on their website saying they are unwilling to start a Franchise in the Golden State. But by going through their website you can see what’s possible.
Coffee News As the name implies, this magazine is read for people at coffee shops, restaurants, and waiting rooms –where they are usually drinking coffee. According to an article in the Register, you can get into this business for less than $10,000. You have something to offer your advertisers–a captive audience. People actually look at this paper while they are waiting. Other publications that consumers receive in the mail go STR-straight to recycling. They offer printing services, graphic design, and some of your content. So you can concentrate on advertising sales and distribution.
In our opinion, the problem with this franchise opportunity is that there are already a couple of these magazines being distributed. OC Weekley. Managers might not want too many of these things cluttering their tables. On the other hand, the current magazines seem to cater to a younger audience so there might be an opportunity to write for people over thirty and families who do not want to see the ads for pot and massages. There are currently Coffee News papers being published in Irvine, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach and Lake Forest. So there are a lot of areas still available in Orange Count. Check out their website for franchises that are for sale.
Val Pak http://www.valpakfranchising.com/franchising/index.jsp#About-Us They turned a simple idea, send people a bunch of coupons in the mail, and turned it into a big business. This is a popular franchise. You sell ads to businesses in your community and val pak delivers those ads in a big blue envelope that arrives in everyone’s mailbox. People love looking through all those coupons. They also do internet advertising, and advertising pushed to cell phones. We are not sure if they have any opportunities in our area, but it never hurts to ask. They need someone with $150,000 in net worth, $75,000 in liquid assets. According to their website, smaller area franchises go for around $32,000–but you can expect they will be a bit more in our area.
Printing a Magazine Yourself
The other possibility is just to hire a local printer to print up what you want. You are the publisher. You submit your copy in electronic form, and they do the printing. The key is to get multiple bids. You need something with a shelf life of about a month. Most of them will immediately go to the trash. So don’t over-pay. If you go to a regular business printer, you will have a high level of service and print quality, but it will cost you. We came across a couple of commercial printers.
http://occprinting.com/printing.htm Orange County Commercial Printing in Westminster
http://www.freedomprinting.net This is the OC Register’s printing, so you can get newsprint type publications, glossy full color magazines, and booklets. You can upload your files from computer. Since they publish a newspaper they have a lot of printing capacity.
Some printers near by in Los Angeles
http://www.printpelican.com/magazine-5-8.html Print Pelican (they have prices on their website.)
These printers can do newspapers and small booklets suitable for mailing or door to door distribution.
The most important thing that you need to have is the ability to take rejection. You need to sell ads. If you are a sales person and can personally make the rounds, this might be the business for you. Be sure to suggest they use coupons. It is suggested that you have experience in direct sales and/or business to business sales. When the customers redeem coupons, that’s an automatic sale for you.
Graphic Design. You will need to hire a graphic designer to set up your ads. If you or someone in your family has these skills, this might be a good opportunity for you. Check on Craigslist for a graphic designer who works with the program your printer needs. As it turns out, a lot of people get trained in graphic design so there are a lot of freelancers out there. Most accept files from Adobe. Adobe Page Maker Files (PageMaker has been replaced with InDesign) and much more reasonably priced Microsoft Publisher 2010 are said to be the best for laying out your magazine.
Finding a Community
A community can be geographic. For instance, people who live in a city can be looked at as a community. They would be interested in nearby places to shop and eat. Or it can be people connected by a common interest. One good example is the landlord/apartment manager community, there are three community publications aimed at landlords/property managers. Their articles are often written by advertisers. What’s great about this community is that they spend a lot of money on their buildings. This community can be located by a service that gets info on the owners of apartment building from the County Recorder’s Office. Another example of a community could also be people who may need home improvements. If you are in a sub-division where most of the people own their own homes you get a lot of these in the mail. They are called “________ Community Home improvement/repair guides.”
Another type of community may be ethnic in nature. Although they are spread out, they have a common interest in traveling back home, ethnic food, dress, jewelry … One way to find them is to build a list based on an association or even find people with particular last names in the phone book. For instance, if you wanted to find Koreans, you could just send a mailer to everyone with the last name of Kim.
But you have to be careful, because the third generation may not be keyed into the community. For instance, some families live in a highly Hispanic area in central OC. They have Hispanic last names. And they get community magazines in Spanish. But they don’t know how to read Spanish because they grew up here, and their parents grew up here. Like everyone else, they took Spanish is High School, but they cannot read. The publisher of these might as well say adios to her m
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