Profile - Harvard Health Publishing (1,905 words)
By Alicia Orr Suman
Profile: Harvard Health Publishing
Marketing newsletters by mail requires a solid dose of promotion. But for Harvard Health Publishing, the serious subject matter of its editorial means its sales tactics have to be tempered.
The challenge for Harvard Health Publishing is to sell subscriptions to its five monthly titles in a newsletter market that's full of sometimes outrageous promotional promises: miracle cures, fast money, instant wealth. It's within this environment that the publisher must continually strive to get its sales message across clearly, effectively and with just the right amount of promotional slant.
To accomplish its marketing goals, the nonprofit publisher relies heavily on direct mail to sell subscriptions. Total circulation for the newsletters, including Harvard Men's Health Watch, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Heart Letter, Harvard Mental Health Letter and its oldest title, Harvard Health Letter, is about 700,000.
Direct Mail Says It Best
Traditional direct mail still is the workhorse for newsletter publishers like Harvard Health Publishing because it gives a publication the space to fully explain its content and mission to potential readers. Most newsletters don't have the name recognition enjoyed by many magazines, which sometimes can use self-mailers and even postcards to sell subscriptions. Explains Ed Coburn, publishing director of Harvard Health Publishing, "Mail is our bread and butter. It's still the case with most consumer newsletters."
Coburn says his long-term goal is to use less direct mail, perhaps supplement it with Web-based marketing. "But for now," he says, "our consumer audience is skewed to older Americans who are slower to adapt to the Web than other market segments."
As for other media, Harvard Health Publishing did some space advertising, but according to Coburn, it hasn't worked that well. Telemarketing is not a part of its media mix either. Coburn explains that in addition to the newsletters' price points being too low in most instances, telemarketing is not an option for another reason.