2:15p.m. - 4:50p.m.; September 14, 1978
Participants: Stan Rader, Wayne Cole, Richard Rice, Dexter Faulkner, Roger Lippross, John Lundberg, Dick Quincer, Ellis LaRavia, Art Mokarow, Larry Omasta, David Antion, Les McCullough, Brian Knowles, Robert Kuhn, Ted Gould, Jack Martin, George Birdwell, Ed Bodo, Fred Stevens, Jack Bicket, Henry Cornwall, Ted Herlofson, Joanna Pilkington, Ralph Helge, Sherwin McMichael.
Roger Lippross began with a formal flip chart presentation on the PT newsstand program. Initiated in Kentucky in 1976, today 900,000 magazines are distributed every month through roughly 5,000 outlets in the United States. These outlets are organized through 350 newsstand coordinators, most of whom have ten or more people working for them. This means that well over 3,000 people, all of whom are church members, are directly involved with the PT in their local communities. For so many members to be so actively involved in helping preach the gospel is a tremendous source of church-wide enthusiasm and high morale. Many area coordinators and ministers have aggressively stated that the PT newsstand program is the most highly supported activity of the church, and the constant cry is for more magazines.
The Direct results of the newsstand program since 1976 shows 200,386 responses, 2,334 donors, 20 co-workers and at least 9 members. At present we receive 5-6,000 new responses per week, which is approximately 80% of all new adds to the PT, a startlingly high figure and a dramatic historical shift for the Work. The conversion response (those renewing for the first time) is 25-30% which yields a cost qf $17.00 per renewed subscriber, which compares very favorably with other media. This renewal cost is a critical factor in judging the cost effectiveness of programs, and should now be used as one primary standard in inter-media and intra-media analysis. The total cost of magazine production combined with the operational cost of the newsstand program is 13.06¢ per copy (for the special 32 page newsstand PT), breaking down as follows: Film, .4; Printing, 8.58; Freight, .15; Display Equipment, 1.5; Rental Space, 1.0; Subscription Cards, .68; Salaries, .4.
Current findings show a 3% response rate overall in the PT newsstand program, which works out to a $4.35 cost per response. The vast potential for PT newsstand circulation was discussed. Many areas are barely scratched. With existing staff and newsstand network personnel, 3-4 million PTs could be distributed. With increased staff and newsstand network personnel, up to seven million could be successfully handled in the United States alone.
Flexibility was stressed as a major benefit of the PT newsstand program. We do not have contracts or permanent obligations, and can therefore move and switch according to varying needs.
The 3% response in the U.S., though good, is still substantially less than the 6% achieved in the U.K. newsstand program. Testing with various improved insert cards as well as determining the very best outlets will be utilized to improve our response rate. Extra emphasis needs to be placed on the magazine cover, which is a factor in both reader pickup and continuing reader involvement.
Jack Martin stressed the need for financial planning for a 3 to 5 year period into the future since publishing costs (printing, paper, postage) are increasing at rates well above the normally high inflation rates. The prospect of such increasing costs per unit will multiply the total cost of the program, especially with a goal of dramatically increasing circulation. We do not want to disappoint the church in the future with cutbacks.
Airports are favored newsstand outlets since the high traffic assures that a greater percentage of new people will be exposed to our message. (On some regular newsstands, up to one-third of the people are "regulars," picking up the PT every month.)
Mr. Rader offered an idea of creating a "sweepstakes" to increase the response rate to the PT, much as Readers Digest does. The concept proposed a free trip to Southern California to see the college, etc. We can determine the feasibility of such an idea, as well as its cost effectiveness to increase response and bring more people into the Subscriber Development system which is intended to lead readers into a keener awareness of our teachings via our literature and greater involvement in God's Work.
Mr. Rader reviewed the history of the newsstand program which goes back about ten years. Mr. Armstrong had been constantly concerned in those days that a high pressure approach was wrong. Since the early sixties new ways of circulating the PT, for example Family Circle's techniques, were presented to Mr. Armstrong. He first approved it for England since there was no radio or TV there. In the last few years the PT newsstand program has contributed to a dignified image for the Work as well as gained increasing visibility. Our overall PT renewal rate is about 25% for (first time) conversions and 65% for subsequent renewals.
Further ideas discussed for future consideration involved new ways to utilize church member help to promote the PT — yet always maintain the proper dignity set by Mr. Armstrong.
Roger Lippross presented a report of a preliminary direct mail test for the PT. Modeled on techniques learned through Quest and conducted last winter 10,000 subscribers to Prevention magazine and donors to humanitarian causes were offered a six-month PT subscription. The initial response was 5.5% — quite good with a cost per new response of less than $2.00 which is also extremely good. Furthermore, the promotional package sent was quickly put together and better packages should pull better in the future. Tracking of the 552 people who responded showed a higher than usual rate of movement towards becoming donors and co-workers. More tests are required considering the small sample size, the changing PT, time factors, different packages, lists, etc. Great potential is available in using outside mailing lists, but there is a saturation point in these too.
Mr. Rader updated everyone about his conversations with Mr. Armstrong since the last meeting. Mr. Armstrong wants the PT to be the major vehicle to bring people onto our list and keep them progressing. Subscriber Development filled a void left by the change in the PT and the demise of Tomorrow's World. Mr. Armstrong has been talking about improving the CC; he feels it should be expanded in function and variety. He is very pleased with the PT newsstand program.
Mr. Armstrong wants the PT to be the finest magazine in the religious field, just as Quest is the finest magazine in the secular field, and to follow the guidelines set forth in the Pastor's Report several weeks ago. Mr. Armstrong wants us to apply all the knowledge gained through Quest, using innovative techniques to promote circulation such as direct mail and inserts in Sunday newspapers, etc.
Other new concepts for the facilitation of the follow-up include using the WATS lines to answer questions, give professional spiritual counseling, etc. Sabbatical ministers can be used to man the phones, giving them new opportunities as well as offering our people new services. This should be studied, including the advertising of these services.
Mr. Armstrong wants to utilize the PT to promote church literature, and a coordinated effort between the various departments is necessary to accomplish this. Additional ideas presented to Mr. Armstrong include new ways of using the local ministry such as in local Bible classes to back up the Correspondence Course.
Mr. Rader discussed the current television program; with the current series being completed we have a powerful vehicle to shift around the country. Mr. Armstrong likes TV spots, but we must present the best booklets. Mr. Rader discussed the idea of new formats for Mr. Armstrong — such as a dialogue/interview style with Art Gilmore. Dick Quincer presented ideas for six TV specials, all oriented toward major visual presentation: the incredible human potential; the existence of God; Christ and His Message; prophecy; life after death; why marriage.
Mr. Rader concluded by announcing that Jack Martin will become his staff assistant functioning in several areas including PT circulation, Quest and church books.
Assignments for Presentation
1) Formalization and approval for next PT Direct Mail test. (Lippross, Martin)
2) Current television and radio responses. (Rice, Lundberg, Bicket, Birdwell)
3) Cost effectiveness comparisons between our present agency (Ed Libov Associates) versus previous arrangements. (Bicket, Birdwell)
4) Future TV formats and programing. (Quincer, Ornasta)
5) Subscriber Development Update. (Rice)
6) New Subscriber Services: WATS lines manned by ministers; PCD analysis. (Rice)
7) Data Gathering and Tracking. Analysis of procedures. (Rice, Lippross, Bicket, Birdwell)
8) Correspondence Course: Present analysis and future considerations. (Knowles, Sedliacik)
COMBINED FINANCIAL STATEMENT TO BE PUBLISHED
We thought all of the readers of the PASTOR'S REPORT would be interested to know that we will be publishing a combined financial statement of income and expenditures of the Church and College. Please look for it in the next issue of the GOOD NEWS.
— Stanley R. Rader