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Finding Markets Through Magazine Directories

Finding Markets Through Magazine Directories / How to Run a Tight PR Campaign

by Jeffrey Dobkin

This is a two part article on
1. Finding the magazines that serve the markets that will purchase your products, services and books; and
2. Exactly how to figure out which magazines are truly the best and
3. How-to send a press release that will get published to those highly targeted magazines.

No matter what kind of book you’re publishing, or what kind of product you’re marketing chances are good that magazines can help you reach a focused and targeted reader audience. Here’s how you find the right periodicals and what steps you should take when you’ve found them.

Start by finding the marketing reference tools: magazine directories.  They’re at the library reference desk… and have names like Cision’s Magazine Directory (formally Bacon’s Media Directory) and The Oxbridge Communications Directory of Periodicals.

In the front of each directory you’ll find you’ll quickly become a marketing expert by simply reading the 2 or 3 page “market classification” section of these giant yet simple-to-use 2500-3000 page media directories.  The marketing section in each directory is short, but it presents a warehouse of information: a comprehensive list of specific market categories that magazines are sent to.

Examples of market classifications are “banking and finance,” “photography,” “motorcycles,” or “women’s interest.”  There are about 100 classifications alphabetically listed, from accounting to woodworking.  Some of the larger markets are further broken down in to several subsections or “market segments.”

Step one in your marketing plan is to write down any and every market classification (or marketing category) that is likely to appeal to potential purchasers of your products.

The up-front two or three page marketing classification section gives you the page number of where the magazines – grouped by their industry – can be found in the main section of the directory.  The main section – 2000 pages, more or less – is where all the magazines are listed alphabetically by their industry classification. So all the banking magazines are found next to each other under “B” for Banking, and all the dentists magazines are found in a group under “D” for, well – you know.  And so on.

After you figure out the places your products (or books) will sell well, turn to the main section of the directory to see all the magazines sent to those particular market classifications.  If your books were written about accounting, you’d find all the magazines that went to Accountants in the main section under “Accounting” – and there’s probably about 50 titles or so written specifically for the accounting trade.

Real Marketing… made easy:

You see, each of the magazine directories are the same in this regard. All of the magazines that go to a specific industry  are grouped together with similar magazines so they can be easily compared. For example, in Cision’s Directory, under the classification of “photography,” all 50 photography magazines (28 professional & 22 consumer photography magazines) can be found starting on page 2207 under the title “Photography” in the main section of the directory.  So on page 2207 you’ll find all the photography magazines in alphabetical order with a complete breakdown of who they are, the publisher, what section of the photography market they are targeted to reach (consumers, professionals, wedding, journalists, wildlife, studio, beginners, pro, semi-pro, high end, portrait, commercial – and you thought there was only one!), their editorial profile, the circulation, advertising costs, editors’ names and of course their audience profiles.

That’s the best part: each magazine’s write-up contains an editorial profile statement of specifically who the magazine is written for – or for you technical people out there, the “marketing segment” or “niche” – within the market classification.  Read the profiles and make a list of the magazines that target your specific audience.  There, that was simple.  A good part of your marketing is now finished.  But don’t grab that beer and turn on the TV set just yet…

Next? Here’s where the real marketing begins.

Since you never, ever should place an ad in a magazine you haven’t seen, you’re going need sample copies. Ugh: Call each publisher and ask for the advertising sales department.  Tell the space rep that you’re thinking about buying ad space in the magazine and you’d like a “media kit” and a couple of recent issues.

While you’re on the phone, also ask for a copy of any circulation bureau audit reports so you will have a confirming, detailed breakdown of circulation. All the larger publishers subscribe to an independent auditor who verifies their publishing circulation figures.  When you talk to the rep don’t believe the bullshit about pass around copies – it’s a fabricated number no one really knows.  Also remember, the number of magazines mailed isn’t necessarily the number read.  Think about all the magazines on your desk you planned to read sometimes between later and never, and finally threw them all out.

When speaking with the advertising sales representative, also always ask whether the magazine has a directory issue or special annual issue, and if it does request a sample copy of that also along with advertising rates for it. These special issues can show you a lot about a publication’s strength and its depth of knowledge of the industry it serves. It can also be an extraordinarily valuable resource to you.  It’s FREE if you ask NOW (you were thinking about buying ad space in the directory, weren’t you?), and they would probably charge you if you ask later.

If you prefer, you can cover the same bases with a letter, email or fax like this one:

Dear Jeffrey,

We are interested in an ad insertion schedule in your publication.

Please send your media kit for ______________ magazine.

Kindly enclose two recent issues of your magazine, along with any
reference issue, directory issue, or annual summary issue you may
publish.  Please include display and classified advertising rates.

In your correspondence, please advise us of your editorial calendar,
along with the closing dates of each issue.

Also let us know if you publish a card pack, newsletter, or similar style
publication to this industry, and if advertising space is available in it.

Thank you for your prompt response.


If you’ve selected three or four industries or “market classifications,” you might have found roughly 60 to 150 trade and consumer magazines that seem like good places to run an ad or send a press release.  If your products are of more general interest, you may have a list of 400 or 500 magazines – or more.

Your PR Campaign made Easy —  Click Here for Part II of this article