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melissa monosky

Staff from Chart magazine pitched a tent at Edgefest, the annual concert put on by 102.1 The Edge, to host FanFest, an event to market their magazine to young music lovers. The lineup to get into the tent was miles long. But music fans waited patiently to get their hands on a double CD compilation that the magazine had put together featuring Canadian bands.

Nada Laskovski, co-publisher of Chart, says the magazine “sold a lot of subscriptions at the show by offering this CD as an incentive.”

“We also did a special issue with Sloan on the cover a few years ago, and we had an exclusive Sloan CD inside with a track that you couldn’t find on any of their albums,” says Laskovski. “So it was like an exclusive track that you could only get through us. It did really well.”

Magazines have been using giveaways to entice subscribers for years. There is even competition on newsstands between which magazine gives away the best prize.

Joyce Santos, sales promotions co-ordinator for Canadian Living, says that in the April 2005 issue, “we’re actually putting something on the cover saying that there are prizes to be won and that kind of gets people to buy from newsstands.”

“When we’re on the newsstands,” she says, “people will pick Canadian Living over Chatelaine because (at Canadian Living) you can win big prizes.”

Santos previously organized a contest for a trip to the Toronto International Film Festival, worth more than $5,000, which drew 100,000 entries. Bel Air Travel, the prize sponsor, paid for the winner’s flight and hotel. The Toronto International Film Festival provided the tickets.

“So there wasn’t really any cost (to the magazine) because we had prize sponsor(s),” says Santos. In return, sponsors received exposure for their logos on the contest page.

Santos says that by offering contests, Canadian Living is trying to get readers involved. “A lot of our subscribers enter our contests every month and they look forward to that, so I think it keeps a lot of our readers.”

Paul Zander, publisher of Faze magazine, says the “up for grabs” page is “almost like a beloved column. Everyone knows to look for it to see what (they) can win this month. Its familiarity breeds affection.

“We definitely want to make great contests, trips and gifts a part of what you think of when you think of (Faze),” says Zander. “And that definitely adds a bonus to having the magazine in your hand and subscribing to it.

“A contest creates a bit more of a buzz. You’re going to linger on a contest . . . go back and check the website and . . . the contest page, so there’s definitely a value to an advertiser to be involved in a contest.”

Zander says people are coming to him with contest ideas everyday. He says he’s now in a position where he can pick and choose which contests and giveaways he thinks will have the biggest impact on his market.

Promotions are an important channel to go after because they can help pay for the magazine, Zander adds.

Shameless magazine is produced by a team of volunteers who use fundraising, advertising and launch parties to cover printing costs.

At one particular launch party, Shameless partnered with Lush, a trendy soap and cosmetics company based in England. “Everybody got a Lush bag with gifts in it and they also got a copy of the magazine,” says Jes Markoff, Shameless’ advertising sales manager.

Less than a year old, Shameless has more than 500 subscribers so far.

Markoff says they have discussed contests, such as having young photographers submit their work for chances to win prizes.

“We’d partner with a camera manufacturer and give away film and cameras,” Markoff says. “And I think that’d be positive because you’re supporting an art form and not so much focusing on just ‘give us your name and we’ll put you in a draw.’” The contests would “be much more based on involving teen girls and getting them to do our project.”

Regardless of the form a giveaway takes, the response from readers is the ultimate goal. For Chart, that goal was reached almost immediately. As their white tent collapsed on the grass at Edgefest, music fans blasted their new CD. Chart staff were so encouraged by the response, they vowed to bring back FanFest the following year. It was definitely a win-win situation.

Photo illustration by Melissa Monosky