What’s the best way to sell ad space for the first issue of a niche magazine?

I’m self publishing a local niche magazine for the first time and thus have no real readers yet. How can I pitch my magazine to businesses to make them want to buy ad space?
I have two friends here in Las Vegas that are doing the same thing right now–they run a local nightlife scene magazine.

What they told me they did in the beginning is get on the phone and start calling targeted businesses, and they got out and networked like mad men. This brought them two things: leads, and connections to more leads.

You can employ a number of different tactics to get businesses to advertise with you depending on how much you are willing to spend to woo your future clients.

If you are having to do this on a shoe string budget, you’re going to be networking a lot more and possibly doing some digital marketing as well. (Check out some of our other Ask Experts for internet marketing and social media marketing, they know their stuff!) You can do a lot with a little when it’s planned out well and targeted correctly.

Some questions to think about when you decide to start soliciting businesses in you area:

1. Who do I cater to? What businesses do they patronize? Do they fit what I am targeting for my readership?

2. What is my budget to market to them to buy advertising to these businesses?

3. How many networking events can I sponsor or arrange to have my potential advertisers see what I have to offer them? Is my media kit ready?

4. Who are the media buyers in my area? Who do they service? You can usually get that list right through Google although you may have to dig a bit.

The bottom line is you are going to be doing a lot of leg work but once you get established, asking for and getting referrals won’t be so hard.

Make sure your inaugural issue is given to your advertisers as well. They will be very appreciative to know they have something for their media kits or for their wall in their establishment.

Don’t forget you have the ability to do advertising editorials too. It’s a great way to give a business exposure and get them to advertise as well.

If you need more information, there are sites on how to publish and the steps needed to successfully launch your endeavor.

originally posted Nov 2009: