As association professionals evaluate what has worked well over the past two years and what changes need to occur moving forward, there is a constant struggle for resources – financial and human.
Association magazines, news centers, and newsletters are an important component of member communication – and member engagement. The costs, however, can be significant if the publications are handled in-house. An article in a Colorado business publication outlines the reasons outsourcing should be considered. While the author describes businesses in general, the advice applies to magazine content development, production, and advertising.
Some of the factors to consider:
- Access to specific skills – Does the outsource company have expertise in writing, editing, design, and advertising sales you may not be need full-time in your association? Even if you have an employee with some of the skills, you may want to outsource to free that employee to focus on other priorities.
- Cost savings – Will outsourcing reduce labor and operational costs including the following?
- Economies of scale – Choosing an outside company to publish your magazine gives you access to specialized skills, technological tools, and expertise that the publisher uses for all clients – reducing the costs to individual associations.
- Labor costs – The average advertising sales rep can earn between $45,000 and $60,000 according to Glassdoor.com. However, the real cost of the employee must include other costs such as health insurance and taxes, which can add between 18 and 26%. Add expenses, equipment, life insurance, 401K, and support staff expenses, and the number rises more.
Other factors to consider include:
- Quality of magazine – Can outsourcing the publication and taking advantage of the economies of scale, and a dedicated advertising staff, result in a higher quality, timely publication while adding to the association staff’s productivity?
- Association reputation – Do you have a plan to select a firm with expertise in your industry or a related industry, or to provide an orientation or kickoff meeting to share specific information about your association and members?
- Revenue enhancement – Does the publisher offer options so you can choose to pay all costs and handle advertising in-house or share in the revenue generated by advertising sales by the publisher’s staff?
- Member relations – If the association chooses to have the publisher handle ad sales, will the sales team represent the association well? Sales staff should understand the industry and the association membership and pursue a no-pressure approach that builds long-lasting advertising relationship.
- Technology – Does the publisher have the expertise on staff to leverage content across all platforms – print, website, email, and mobile?
Most importantly, look for an outsource partner who offers options on how to handle the magazine. Some associations provide their own content, others use publisher’s editorial resources, and some prefer to keep ad sales in-house. If outsourcing is the right route for your association, the right partner can lead to enhanced member communication as well as enhanced non-dues revenue.