As I reflect through the many lessons I’ve learned throughout this year, most notably, through the launch of BHC Magazine, I thought it would be a waste not to note them down for my future reference. If any of you are starting something new, perhaps you could pick up a lesson or two through my experiences.
Of course, for those who want the best advise to start anything, pick up the book above by Guy Kawasaki, whom I stole most of the ideas from (Money back guarantee from me – I don’t even offer that for BHC Magazine!).
(Special thanks to Stuart Lee, Rachael Yeo, Phoebe Wallace, Sebastian Yeoh, Azim Ghani, Sarah Ong, Stephen Ong, Mei Law, Dennis Lim, Joseph Kong, Nadzirah, Azlan & Farah Ahmad, Liayana, Reggie See, Jason Lam, Azeem & Nana, Paul McNamara, Dayat, Eddie, Shidah, Boogy, NJ, John Lee, Ferial, Stuart Kemp, Jun-Ray, Kelvin, Eric Pui, Shavon & Vincent, and Greg, Simon Soo, Poh Yee! and many many more who have, direct and indirectly contributed to the magazine.)
Finding the first customer was perhaps the most difficult. When we first went to the market to introduce our magazine, most people were not interested in advertising. Many were trying to rationalise us out of launching the magazine, citing the many publications that have come and gone. Even though we had a comprehensive sales pitch and a compelling vision, it was very difficult, there was nothing like having physical publication to show our work.
We were selling ideas out of thin air!
No body had heard from us or have seen our work, there were very little reasons for the market to trust us.
One of the most common questions asked was, who else are advertising?
As you can imagine, when no one else were on board, no body would be.
We had our first advertising sign up 2 months prior to the launch of the magazine. We had less than 10 advertisers with one month to go.
We needed at least 30 advertisers to breakeven.
In publishing, we understood early on the importance of Confidence & Trust because no body want to associate themselves with the ‘no-body’.
Below are 5 of the key strategies we adopted to build trust:
- Comprehensive / Professional Sales Kit
- As we were selling from thin air, our sales kit needed to be as cool and visually attractive as possible.
- It was simple, straight to the point, objective, clear and punchy (even my grandma could understand).
- Mock Magazine Layout / Content / Photos / Track Records
- We made sure people can see the continuity of the magazine with editorial calendar all planned out in advance!
- We showed the clients about 8 months worth of pictures before we even launched.
- We showed all our relevant track records, anything and everything that we’ve done to convince people we can make things happen.
- We even did up a mock layout (which was nothing close to the actual one)
- Without Butra HeidelbergCement, there’d not be a BHC Magazine.
- We were smart enough to use our partner’s name to tell our advertisers that we’re somehow bigger than who we are, for that reason, we’re here to stay.
- While we’ve never received any direct feedback as to why people advertise, this is an element which, I believe is a major confidence booster.
- For this opportunity, we are forever grateful.
- Who else are advertising?
- Perhaps the most important question for us to answer! Once we had the first 5, the rest of the pitch were purely name dropping!
- We practiced, practiced and practiced to ensure the pitch is right. We had all the answers for any possible inquiries and rejections memorised by heart.
To date, I am extremely thankful to Ms. Olivia Yong of Maybank, for being the first person to sign up with us. Mr. Ninan Chacko for the first to take up long term, our premium page and all the major banks such as BIBD, HSBC and Standard Chartered who took the leap of faith with us. We had 25 advertisers that first month. I am eternally grateful to each one of them for their support.
For every one person who sign up to advertise, there were at least 20 others who rejected our proposal.
Equally as important were the home owners who opened their home to us. It was also a leap of faith on their part to put their trust on us without any idea how we’d make them look.
BHC Magazine from Preparation to Launch: 6 months