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You rich? He'll track you down

September 29, 2005 11:05 IST

If you're rich and powerful, Jason Binn will track you down -- and send you his magazine.

Jason Binn got his first job out of college by sending perfumed birthday cards to Madison Avenue executives. He tracked down their birth dates, printed his résumé on thick card stock, slipped it inside a red envelope, scented it and attached a pink rose sticker that said "love."

"I knew I had to do something that would stand out," says Binn. Within three months he was managing three accounts at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.

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Binn, 37, uses the same slyness to capture a reading audience of the rich, powerful and famous. He's the maverick founder of Niche Media, a $50 million (hoped-for 2005 revenue) company he started in 1998 that publishes seven high-gloss magazines, including Hamptons, Los Angeles Confidential and the recently launched Capitol File. He doesn't play by the rules of magazine publishing.

First, Binn gives away half of the 425,000 combined print run of all seven magazines. What's important is that the magazines are sent to the right people, which means finding the rich.

Binn employs a staff of seven people, who mine credit card databases, title insurance reports and charter jet customer lists. They cull the Dun & Bradstreet company register for names of chief executives and match them with mortgage records to assess their net worths.

"I can tell you who just rented a 75-foot boat for over $100,000 a week," he says. They recently pinpointed 22,000 New Yorkers who either put over $100,000 on a credit card last year or made a single department-store purchase of more than $2,000. They will be sent Gotham or Hamptons.

As for editorial content, it's unlikely Binn will find himself in jail protecting a source. "We don't trash people; we celebrate them," he says. "We aren't here to say that so-and-so was caught with their pants down." The inaugural issue of Washington, D.C.'s Capitol File has stories by former DNC chair Terence R McAuliffe on gadgets, President

Clinton's lawyer Robert S. Bennett on fly-fishing and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder on football.

Binn's sales staff is free to capitalise on published editorial content. Actress Teri Hatcher is on the cover of the fall issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine and will also host the magazine's Emmy party.

Binn has asked two dozen watchmakers, clothing companies and jewelers who advertise in the magazine to outfit Hatcher for the party. Photos from the party will run in the next issue as editorial content or as a special advertising section. Binn says celebrities "typically" return the loot.

Last year Binn's magazines averaged 300 pages per issue, 45 per cent ads, with each ad page going for $16,000 after agency and frequency discounts.

Terri Eagle, chief executive of the John Hardy jewelry line, buys ads in all of Binn's magazines. "His list is so pure," she says. "I know the formula works."

Tomas Kellner, Forbes