Marketing to a Niche Within a Niche
"What we've had to do since there aren't many undiscovered lists out there, is start testing the African-American select on the large, personal finance magazines since most have a demographic overlay," explains Hanks. Since this has been met with a fair degree of success, she now plans to test different selects such as mailing paid direct-to-publisher names with and without renewals as well as hotline vs. non-hotline names. The magazine also has a ZIP penetration model it uses to see if the ZIP codes in the lowest third really are worse than the remainder of the file and, if so, if it can use it as a screen on its marginal lists. "We've got a lot of playing [to do] with the specific ways we approach this limited number of lists," notes Hanks.
Because it isn't able to generate enough volume with outside lists, Black Enterprise has heavily relied on a second, and larger, source of names: its expires. "Happily, we have a large file of people who didn't renew in the past, so we're going back to them, and it's working very well. To tell the truth, it has bought us some time while we figure out where we can find some more prospects and tweak the various selects to make that work," says Hanks, adding that the old expires really have been the mainstay of the program since she joined Black Enterprise three years ago.
A Personal Connection
Although a popular and often-used format by many publishers, Black Enterprise has steered clear of a voucher package. As Hanks explains, vouchers work for two reasons. The first is name recognition, which she feels Black Enterprise has within the African-American community. The second, says Hanks, is that "it gives the impression that it's a bill for something you've already ordered." Hanks feels this approach appears too deceptive for a magazine that promotes itself as an advocate for its readers. Instead, the magazine mails a benefits package that, like a voucher, is printed on one form.