Marketing to a Niche Within a Niche
Black Enterprise currently is celebrating 35 years of providing business information and advice for black professionals and entrepreneurs. To date, it has 412,192 active subscribers of whom 72 percent are college graduates and 64 percent hold professional or managerial positions. Nearly a third have indicated they plan to start a business in the next 24 months.
More Detail Than Volume
As a magazine for professionals in the nation's second largest minority group, you'd think Black Enterprise would have no difficulty finding a wealth of names to mail for prospecting efforts. But you'd be wrong.
While direct mail-sold subscriptions account for a healthy percent of its circulation, the magazine relies on a plethora of media, including blow-in cards, Internet promotions, space ads and third-party agents, to meet its rate base. "The beauty is that if something isn't working, you can always go tweak something else," observes vice president and circulation director, Beatrice Hanks.
Black Enterprise's direct mail program relies on two sources of names, which according to Hanks, is dictated by one of the facts of ethnic marketing. That is, it's very difficult to find prospect lists.
"What we've found is, because we're both an African-American magazine and a business magazine, there isn't a real competitive set that we can rent names from." So the magazine has tested files that either have an affinity to the African-American market or to finance. It's done pretty well renting hotline names from other mainstream African-American publications, such as Essence and Vibe, as well as smaller magazines and small organizations. "We found a few little gems that we keep testing, such as Gospel Today, which has tested very well, but it's tiny," Hanks laments. Lists of African-American music and book buyers have pulled low-end marginal results. Other categories that would seem likely, such as African-American catalog buyers, haven't tested well.