10 Tips for Generating Non-Dues Revenue With Your Magazine

It’s been a tough few years for associations. The effects of a global pandemic continue to be felt in the decline in membership growth, and revenue lost when in-person events shut down and were slow to return. But recovery is on the horizon. 

Membership rates are finally trending upward after a dip in during the height of the pandemic. This is great news, but with this resurgence comes the need to bolster financial stability and ensure long-term sustainability.

Source:  ASAE Foundation’s Association Operating Ratio Report

One powerful yet often-neglected tool in this pursuit is your association magazine. A 2022 Association Adviser survey found 39.8% of association members rated the print membership magazine as very or extremely valuable. 

You may already have a beloved magazine that offers a wealth of opportunities to tap into new revenue streams. Or, you may be starting from scratch (that’s okay, too!). In this post, we’ve gathered 10 tips for leveraging the power of print to generate non-dues revenue while delivering the exceptional value your members have come to know and trust. 

 1. Think Outside the Ad Box

You may have size specs for half and full-page ads within the pages of your magazine, but what about putting an ad on the cover — or wrapped around the magazine? Association magazines offer a wide variety of ad formats that are unexpected and, therefore, great for grabbing attention. Some popular options include: 

  • Gatefolds
  • Belly bands
  • False covers
  • Starbursts
  • Ribbon callouts

These types of advertising opportunities can increase engagement and visibility for advertisers while driving non-dues revenue for your association. 

2. Get Branded

Branded content or advertorials offer a creative approach to promoting advertisers’ products and services within your magazine. Often, branded content comes from your creative team in collaboration with advertisers, ensuring it seamlessly fits into the look and feel of your publication. Branded content also helps strengthen relationships with advertisers by demonstrating the association’s commitment to providing value and a unique platform for its messaging. 

3. Send Ads Along for the Ride

Magazine supplements, also called ride-along pieces, are digest-sized flyers or mini mags provided by the advertiser and either tucked into or packed with your magazine. These are great avenues for non-dues revenue generation. These supplements allow advertisers to showcase their products and services in a dedicated space that’s more likely to grab your readers’ attention. By offering these options, associations can provide added value for advertisers while increasing their non-dues revenue streams. 

4. Expand Your Reach

If you head up an association dedicated to serving the needs of America’s locksmiths, you’d naturally seek out advertisers in the security space, like a deadbolt manufacturer. That’s called endemic advertising. Non-endemic advertising refers to promoting products or services that are more tangentially related. In our locksmith example, that could mean reaching out to insurance companies or even hotels near an annual convention site. 

5. Wield the Power of Digital

Print and digital are not mutually exclusive. In fact, your digital presence is a great way to bolster your print content and vice versa. You can monetize your online presence by offering premium digital content, such as exclusive articles, webinars or e-books and promoting them on the pages of your magazine. 

Creating gated areas on your website can provide additional value for members and advertisers, with members gaining access to exclusive content and resources and advertisers benefiting from increased visibility and targeted marketing opportunities. 

6. Get Social

According to a 2022 benchmarking report, 60% of members actively participate on their association’s social media networks. This level of engagement presents a wealth of sponsorship opportunities for advertisers. Sponsored content (like weekly advertiser-sponsored posts) allows advertisers to seamlessly blend their promotional messages with your regular social media posts, making them more engaging and appealing to followers. 

And social and print are not mutually exclusive. According to the 2022 Magazine Media Factbook study, magazine readers are more active on social media than the general population. By leveraging the natural connection between your magazine readers and social, you can effectively cross-promote content, advertisers and sponsorship opportunities across social platforms. This cross-promotion can lead to increased visibility for advertisers, driving non-dues revenue through enhanced exposure and engagement. 

To do this well — and boost revenue — it’s important to develop a cohesive strategy that integrates print, digital and social. 

7. Host and Promote Events

Workshops, seminars, webinars and conferences are all excellent ways to generate non-dues revenue. These events attract industry experts and leaders and provide members with valuable learning experiences while driving non-dues revenue through ticket sales and sponsorships. Your magazine plays a vital role in promoting and supporting educational programs and events by featuring content related to the events, offering event-specific advertising opportunities and encouraging member participation both before and after the event. 

8. Lean Into a Theme

Create special editions or themed issues of your magazine. These focused publications can provide unique advertising and sponsorship opportunities centered around a specific theme, event or industry trend. By offering limited and exclusive advertising spots in special editions, you can create a sense of urgency and demand among advertisers. Not only do themed issues allow you to demonstrate expertise in a particular area and add value for members, but they can also attract new advertisers and strengthen relationships with existing ones. 

9. Segment and Target

Leverage the power of audience segmentation and targeted advertising to provide more value for your members and advertisers. If you’re a nationwide association that operates via regional branches, for example, you may consider creating a customized issue for each region. Members get the most relevant editorial and advertorial content, and advertisers can benefit by reaching the most targeted and engaged audience segments. This also means deepening your advertiser pool as you target those with specific interests in one region.  

10. Find the Right Revenue Generation Partner

Generating non-dues revenue is a significant challenge for most associations. Whether you’re short on staff, resources, time or all three, building a robust, revenue-generating marketing strategy can feel like too big of a lift. 

By partnering with a professional publisher with association expertise, you’ll unlock a treasure trove of valuable insights, tailored strategies and best practices to supercharge your revenue efforts — from content creation and design to ad sales and distribution support.

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