Circ Expo Speaker Covers Pros, Cons of Using Agents

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NEW YORK -- "If something goes wrong, turn to your third marketing arm -- subscription agents."

That was advice from Nicole Bowman, president of Bowman Circulation Marketing, to circulators Friday attending the Circulation Management Conference & Expo.

Circulators should be aware of the different subscription agent types. The individual category includes cash field, catalog, direct mail, Internet, Paid During Service (PDS), school plan and telemarketing. Those in the bulk pot include loyalty points, memberships/clubs, partnership and sponsored.

"Each of these sources will renew differently, through agent or direct to the magazine," Bowman said. "The thing about subscription agents is that the five-year lifetime value is different from a magazine-sourced subscription."

She reminded the audience about disclosure requirements.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations requires individual agent-sourced subscriptions disclosed in paragraph 3C of the reporting statement and bulk in paragraph 4B and paragraph 9.

Rival auditor BPA Worldwide requires such subscriptions, both individual and bulk, to be listed in paragraphs 1, 3, 4 and 5 of its reporting statement.

What are the pros and cons of using agents? Pros include low acquisition costs, reaching new readers and rate base maintenance. Among the cons are low conversions, timing and rogue agents.

Bowman suggested some subscription agent strategies to the circulators: share subscription goals; understand remit structures; know agents' marketing styles by asking for catalogs and telemarketing scripts; watch customer service by listening to subscribers; and be vigilant with authorizations.

"Ask them who they clear for," Bowman said.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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