What Should Niche Publishers Charge for Creative Marketing Services?

Chances are you’ve heard about it and thought about it too. A growing number of publishers are offering creative marketing services to diversify their revenue model –and it makes sense. With so many ad dollars moving to Google and Facebook, who wouldn’t pursue it?

While some businesses already outsource their marketing work to agencies, many businesses don’t. The reality is that great marketing can cost BIG money. Even back in 2008, Pepsi paid the Arnell Group $1,000,000 for their logo, and some could argue this price was not unusual!

You probably won’t charge clients a million per logo. But most marketing firms face profitability challenges if they work on too many small, inconsistent projects. This is why many agencies charge monthly retainers. A smaller shop could charge $1,000-$5,000 – even before hourly rates, media buying commissions, and revenue cuts are included.

Why Small Publishers Win

Assuming that marketing is just another revenue stream alongside advertising, subscriptions, and merchandise, you probably don’t have to charge a retainer to keep your doors open. As a result, there is limited risk when offering an a la carte creative extension to an advertising proposal. After all, your creative team will still be busy after the work wraps up!

Therefore, between a non-retainer advantage, and the fact that small publishers are more likely to compete with freelancers than agencies, winning creative business will essentially come down to price and value. Depending upon your market, local freelancers generally charge anywhere from $50-$200 per hour, and while some skills can be farmed out for less overseas, you will be hard-pressed to find a great copywriter in a cheap foreign country (great news for you). In other words, “value” matters more than price. Top agencies can charge $100-350 an hour if their work is really good.

Proving Value

While the ROI of a logo is as hard to measure as print, most digital marketing efforts are quantifiable. Nearly any click, form submission, or digital interaction can be evaluated, meaning you can prove your efforts are effective when using proper tools. Moreover, if your clients have an insatiable ROI-appetite, rest assured! Their angst can be assuaged with tangible evidence provided by tools like The Magazine Manager with integrated marketing. In fact, proving your work’s value will be the easy part. The hard part will be estimating a project’s scope of work and or mitigating out-of-control revisions from indecisive clients (problem for agencies too).

Indeed, make no mistake – inaccurate project management is the enemy of marketing services. It could actually be a bigger thorn-in-your-side than the evil Google empire. Therefore, if you are pursuing this line of revenue and want to avoid these “black hole” challenges, check out our recent webinar on Survival Tips for Publishers Providing Creative Services. For everyone else out there writing content for your ad clients, be prepared to marry editorial church and state – for a lot of money of course!



More about Christie: Christie Calahan is the Marketing Director of Mirabel Technologies, creator of the widely used Magazine Manager publishing CRM. Prior to joining Mirabel, she worked at The New York Times’ in-house creative marketing department and has 10 years of major agency experience working on Fortune 500 brands. She has also been a partner in two successful tech companies.



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