Greatest and Best of Lists
You may have seen flashy full page advertisements when reading the inflight magazine on an airline flight. They have titles like “Great Steakhouses of North America,” or “Best Cosmetic Dentists of America,” then typically list out 12 different businesses or doctors in different cities with their contact information. Each month, a different business or doctor is the featured provider with their picture and some extra text stating who they are. While there may be some minimal level of vetting, such as checking to see the doctor is licensed by the medical board and doesn’t have any major disciplinary infractions, you can rest assured that the number one criteria for getting on the list is the ability to cut someone an advertising check for ten thousand plus dollars a year.
Vetting Process is Easy
The vetting process seems pretty easy and the magazine advertisement design could probably be outsourced to someone found on Fiverr.com or Craiglist for a few hundred bucks. So even though being a list provider is a business, it is investment-like in that it requires the list provider to invest a large sum of money in a full page ad in inflight magazines and turn around and resell a place in the advertisement to 12 different businesses or doctors for more than you paid. If you already have doctors lined up in advance, then this is a straight up arbitrage play. You are like a Wall Street trader that knows he can buy a stock and instantly sell it for more money.
Mitigate Your Risk by Pre-selling
If you are able to pre-sell the ads (basically already have 12 doctors sign a contract to pay before you sign your contract with the airline magazine), then the risks in this investment largely are just collection risk. You will make money as long as the doctors pay the amount they contractually agreed to. Obviously if one of them doesn’t pay or goes bankrupt, you will want to replace them as quickly as possible. There is no guarantee that you could do this after the fact, and magazines have long lead times so the deadbeat payer would probably show up in two or more magazine ads before you could even replace them with someone new.
How Much Money Can You Make?
For an idea of the economics of this investment, take a look at the Southwest Airlines Magazine media kit. A full-page ad is listed at $39,800 per month for 12 months. That works out to $477,600. If you could convince 12 doctors to pay $50,000 for the year to be in your ad, you could make $122,400. Keep in mind you are probably not paying the whole thing up front and might even be able to get a discount if you did. This is not an investment for the masses; you need to either have the money on hand to pay for the ad or convince the airline that you are good for it (perhaps by showing them the conditional contracts you already have with several doctors or businesses). While this is an unusual investment, its not wildly risky if you have 12 good credits already on the hook with you.