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Custom Magazine: Small Steps for Big Success

Think that once you send a custom magazine issue to print your job is done (until you start producing the next issue)? There is still a lot of work to be done between issues regardless of the frequency of your magazine.

As a quick review, you have a detailed and well-defined custom magazine plan. Based on this strategy, you have produced the first issue and sent it to print. This post examines what goes into making an effective custom magazine that will deliver a strong return on investment (ROI) from issue to issue.


There are many ways to distribute your magazine, and you need to choose what works best for you. Your goal should be to attract the recipients’ attention so they do not miss the magazine or, even worse, throw it in the trash bin without even opening it. Here are some ideas:

  • Deliver the magazine personally:  If your circulation is small, your target audience is very significant to your business (VIP business partners), and they are close to your or your sales reps, consider personally delivering the magazine. For example, I used to be a regular Red Bull consumer. Many times the local Red Bull distributor sent a Red Bull girl to personally deliver Red Bull; she even filled my Red Bull fridge that was given to me by them. And I kept drinking!
  • Distribute in shops/offices/dealerships:  If your magazine is only available in your outlets, your promotion strategy needs to include where and how people can pick it up.  Also,  consider PR opportunities – a new launch or a launch of every consecutive issue can generate positive publicity.
  • Mail it:  Many of us get a lot of junk in our mailboxes every day.  Therefore, you have to make an effort to attract the recipient’s attention.  What envelope will you use?  Be creative!  Just last week, I was surprised when I received a custom magazine mailed in a specially designed envelope. It attracted my attention, made me open the envelope and read the magazine.
  • Distribute your print magazine digitally:  Make your magazine available for at least browsing online too, either on your website, blog, special web portals. Do not forget to include a subscription form. Also, repurpose the content from the magazine for other channels such as your Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.


As with any other content marketing activity, you need a way to measure the success of the custom magazine. There are several ways you can approach this depending on your budget and staff. One of the simplest ways is through a reader survey either included in the magazine or accessed online. However, you usually need to give readers an incentive to complete and send the survey. A contest, for example, may encourage some readers to submit a survey.

If your budget is really low or you desire more detailed, personal feedback, call your readers. It will not take much of your time, and it is a great opportunity to get to know them. As an editor of a medical custom magazine, I  call about 10 recipients a day and simply talk to them. You would be surprised how willing they were to talk directly to an editor of a magazine. These conversations give you really valuable information about the changes you should consider making, ideas for future content, etc.

For more tangible data, try to include exclusive sales codes or unique order phone numbers in the magazine to get an immediate overview of how many readers act based on reading the magazine’s content.


Once the magazine is distributed and you have gathered some results, you and your editorial board should meet and go over all aspects of the magazine together. Discuss  what elements worked well and what areas  need improvement. Act accordingly and start working on the next issue. If mistakes were made, don’t fuss! There is always the next issue. And as any editor will tell you, each issue is even better than the last one.

Did I miss anything? What other ideas would you add? What are you biggest challenges with regard to thinking about/producing a custom magazine? Tell me below!