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The new way they sell magazines

How panicky is the magazine industry? Judging by the increasingly crafty methods they’re using to secure subscription renewals, very!

Let’s take a look at this recent card from New York Magazine’s subscription service.

At some point in the distance past, I signed up for a cheap subscription to New York Magazine that included auto rebill (probably using airline miles, which is how I get a lot of magazines).

Here’s a picture of a postcard that arrived in my mail this week. I almost tossed it out, because it looks like an ad trying to get me to subscribe to magazines I don’t already get. It wasn’t in an envelope. The New York Magazine logo doesn’t appear anywhere.

New York Magazine Renewal Postcard

But upon closer inspection: Hello! A renewal notice in disguise!

New York Magazine Renewal Postcard

I had planned to let my subscription run out, so I called the toll-free number Tuesday morning to cancel. I got an automated recording that prompted me for my subscription number. Then it asked if I’d like to cancel and also extend my subscription for another 52 weeks at just $2.50 a month. “No!” I said. Then it offered to send me the magazine for free as a courtesy through January 21, 2013, then bill me after that time unless I called back and canceled again. “Would you like to cancel and extend your term?” the voice asked. “No!” I said again. After this second refusal, the voice seemed to get it, and read me a confirmation number that my order had actually, finally been canceled.

This is good marketing and I hate it. Every arrow points to renewal. The customer sees renewal as the path of least friction at every turn. But you also have to be sharp to avoid getting tricked into buying something you don’t want.

To add insult to injury, the $51 renewal price actually comes at a 28% markup over the subscription price advertised inside the magazine ($39.90).

New York Magazine Subscription Card

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Copywriting, Marketing

One comment

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