The advertisement sales budget for 1974, the Link's first year, was £48.
The sum achieved by George Whittle, the founding Advertisement Manager, was £105.
This was about 30% of the magazines total income. 20 years later, in 1994, advertisement revenue had overtaken revenue from copy sales; £1,332 compared to copy sales of £1,116.
In the early years it was difficult to persuade advertisers to pay in advance, and the Committee minutes are littered with references to invoices outstanding. At December 1975 there were seven advertisers owing £34.50, all village traders who would be embarrassed today to see their names in print.
Successive advertisement managers- Christopher Roulston, Norman Neilsen, and Gadfan Morris - built up the turnover, but the payment problem persisted. It was finally cracked by Mike Garwood, who took over in 1996.
Mike had been employed in advertising agencies, and knew how the system ought to work. In October 1996 he sent out a renewal notice to all his advertisers, with the offer of a 40% discount for those who paid by the deadline of 30th November. He also put the offer in the Link itself, inviting new advertisers to apply.
Mike soon reached his limit, and closed his order book. When the January 1997 issue appeared without certain of the old-established advertisers, they squealed like stuck pigs. But business is business, even in Nutfield Link!
In every year since, the technique has been repeated, and each time the available advertising has been oversubscribed.
Of course, in a commercial publishing firm, the supply of advertising space would be increased. But the Link is a voluntary activity. The people who print, collate, staple, fold and package the magazine have a heavy task. The Committee takes care not to break the camel's back. Consequently, the Link is normally limited to 48 pages, and within those pages the ratio of advertising to editorial is fixed. 48 pages are the most that the collator can handle without additional human labour.
Where demand exceeds supply, the commercial reaction would be to increase the price of the advertising. The Committee takes the view that most of the advertisers are also members of the community, and are entitled to consideration.
At the time of writing (2007) the cost of a one-eighth page for a whole year is only £18, provided the advertiser pays in advance by the date specified. This is probably not a sum to make the difference between prosperity and poverty for even the smallest of our village traders.
Doubtless the Committee could charge more, and make a greater profit. But the Link is not primarily about profit. It is about service to the community.
But bigger profits could themselves be of service to the community. No doubt the Link Committee are thinking about this conundrum!