Anne Holland

Kids Ignore Local Paper Sites; IM Rules

August 1st, 2003

According to this story in OJR, newspapers are having a very hard time getting younger readers to visit their Web sites. Youth, who
don’t bother with the print edition anyway, bypass the online local brand in favor of a national brand such as Yahoo. It’s like
they wanna shop at The Gap instead of an increasingly marginalized local boutique.

Our Managing Editor of Reports, Laura Higgins, has two teen daughters so I asked her to verify this. They said, “Yup.” But
then they added that grownups vastly overestimate how important email and Web sites are. All that really matters, apparently, is
instant messaging.

They firmly told me that our article this week on how to email teens definitely had the wrong focus. IM is where it’s at.

Maybe local newspapers should get together with the ActivBuddy folks and create a LocalNews Buddy.

http://www.ojr.org/ojr/business/1059602230.php

http://www.activebuddy.com/

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Anne Holland

CafePress Offers Book Printing & Online Selling

July 29th, 2003

CafePress is launching its self-publishing and selling platform for book authors sometime this week. (It’s in beta now here, where it says the launch is July 28…)

http://www.cafepress.com/cp/info/sell/books.aspx

The price is higher than it would cost you to print books or reports at a standard print shop (or Kinkos), but that’s because it includes all the online sales backend stuff you need too — such as a Web page to sell from, a shopping cart, shipping services, and customer service.

Might make sense for anyone who wants to test a book or report sale without investing in building all the backend first. If sales go well enough, then you get serious and move to your own systems….

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Anne Holland

Test Results: B2B Online Sub Sales Tactic

July 28th, 2003

Mark Zeibarth, who heads up Bongarde Holdings the parent company that owns SafetySmartOnline, told me they’ve just done a successful first test of a sub sales tactic to organizations. It’s kinda clever…

SafetySmartOnline’s sales team cold call prospects with the following offer:

- Try out the $900/year site for 72 hours (3 days) for free

- If you like it, continue as a trial subscriber for just $399 for six months

- If you don’t, cancel during the first 72 hours and you owe nothing. Cancelling is easy and can be done on the phone or via email.

Because many prospects don’t have corporate credit cards, nor the authorization to use them for such an amount without permission,
Zeibarth’s sales reps don’t ask for a card. Instead they tell the prospect they will send a bill, as soon as the 72 hours are over.

If the prospect says ok, the rep then emails them their trial access password while they are on the phone together. Then 72 hours later the formal invoice is faxed and postal mailed to the now-customer.

Zeibarth says that so far roughly half of trials bail either during the 72 hours or immediately after when they get the bill.

However, the other half pay-up. These numbers are based on a small test though and may change. Plus he has no data yet on how these accounts will convert to the $900/yr site membership when their 6 month trial is over.

He said one other thing I found interesting, which was that although the SafetySmartOnline site is pretty good now, he’s carefully planning out the next 3-5 years enhancements already. It’s not enough to keep a good service going, you have to add on every year to keep subscribers happy and involved …. “even if you don’t raise your prices.”

Zeibarth compares subs sites to Microsoft Office. Each new reversion has more add-ons and improvements, but the price remains
roughly the same.

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Anne Holland

AOL Shuts Down CNN & USAToday's Push Feed Subs

July 28th, 2003

Thank you to the Little Bird who just flew in to tell me that AOL discontinued its InfoGate services on July first. These included paid subscription newsfeed offerings from CNN and USA Today.

Apparently there were lots of calls and emails from upset subscribers who adored the services, but not enough to make a difference in the decision (kind of like fans trying to save a doomed national TV show.)

However all is not lost, AOL is running its own beta test of a push-service to members now. You can sign up as a Beta tester by going to AOL keyword ACBeta.

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Anne Holland

Infogate (formerly Pointcast) Sold to AOL

July 22nd, 2003

“It was under the news radar,” Cliff Boro former head of Infogate just told me why very few press picked up on the fact that AOL
bought the company in March.

Cliff spoke to me from his cell phone while standing on the deck of his sail boat moored outside Provincetown Mass. He’s on his
way up to Maine for August (as soon as the dense fog covering the Northeast blows over.)

“When I pull up and people ask me what I’m doing this summer, and I say, ‘I sold my company to AOL after nine years, so I’m taking
the summer off,’ they think I’m rich,” he laughs. “I explain this is a bear market, when you sell in a bear market that means your
sailboat is still heavily mortgaged.”

Cliff and I are having drinks when he comes back down this way in late August, and he promises to let me know what he’s planning to
do next then so I can blog it. In the meantime, Paul Love is the sole business-side guy left working for Infogate at AOL. AOL also
kept about 20 techies on board.

Infogate, in part originally Pointcast, is the tech company that powers the subscription push-style streamed content offerings
from LATimes, CNN and USAToday, among others. AOL’s acquisition, especially in the midst of the email wars, could be another big
step forward for push content in the US.

One weird thing – check out Infogate.com — why didn’t anybody put some info or a redirect on the site?

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Anne Holland

Patrick Spain Disses KeepMedia

July 22nd, 2003

Weird press release of the day: Patrick Spain, CEO Alacritude whose business is based on reselling content aggregated by a separate company, just had his PR people send me a pitch asking if I’d like to interview him on how stupid his new competitors are. It’s not only ungentlemanly, it’s also kinda dumb because it draws my attention to said competitors and gets them ink.

Anyway, here’s the quote the PR folks suggest I use if I don’t have time to interview Spain personally:

Said Spain: “The KeepMedia business model is flawed. I know because I bought a company _ eLibrary _with the same business model and we are changing it as quickly as we can…. We have some 40,000 subscribers who access an archive of 17 million articles from consumer, business and industry publications. If we weren’t developing new products, we would be a nice, profitable little company with limited growth prospects.”

People, including us, who focus their long-term online business on selling a selection of content will fail. What people want is single point of access to all online content, whether free or paid, utilizing compelling tools to turn that content into useful and actionable answers for their personal or business needs.”

I guess nobody ever told Spain about the guy who runs Pipefitters.com — over $1 million per year sold of a tightly niched selection of content.

Thing is, some content buyers prefer to buy from boutique specialists, even if it is all available at a megastore elsewhere. And boutiques can be very profitable because you can focus marketing spend.

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Anne Holland

Amazon Takes Six Weeks to Post eDocs Properly

July 21st, 2003

Thanks to everyone who wrote in notes this weekend about my Blog on Amazon’s weirdly disjointed new product postings. David
Gewirtz of ZATZ summed it up nicely, “We have our ebooks distributed through Amazon as well, and when I first set up the
distribution ONIX file, I went nuts trying to figure out why some images showed, some descriptions did, but others didn’t and so
on. Basically, it just takes time (assuming your file is formatted right). After about six weeks, everything was all nice ‘n stuff.”

And some publishers (who declined to be named here) said I should just be glad I wasn’t trying to sell printed copies. Apparently
these can take even longer to work their way through “the system” from the day the warehouse signs for delivery and the day they
show up “in stock” online, even if there is a pre-existing sales page.

However I can’t whine too much, because that’s tempting fate to slam me with horrible slow processes as we grow our own bookstore
online. Don’t want people blogging about how awful it is to work with SherpaStore someday!

http://www.zatz.com/

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Anne Holland

Multi-level Marketers Promoting Newspaper Subs

July 20th, 2003

Weirdest spam of the weekend:

For the first time in 20 years, America is going to witness the launch of a new nationwide newspaper. “THE USA TIMES” will launch on Jan. 1 2004, and the promotion is on now. You can join for free and bring other members into the program to get a great residual income for life.

They are promoting it through MLM and paying on 5 levels, Everybody reads the newspaper. You could earn thousands of dollars in residual income for life!

But it made me wonder — now that many newspapers’ circulation departments are freaking because the new Do Not Call list includes them (in many states they had thought they could use local laws to get around it) they’re gonna have to find a marketing tactic to replace the average 39% of print paper subs sold by telemarketing. So that crazy spam may actually forecast future tests.

Note: this article in Editor & Publisher on this topic has a generalized statement that “telemarketing: It has the worst retention rate of all the methods the NAA measured.”

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/editorandpublisher/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1937713

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Anne Holland

Spammed by New York Times' Affiliate

July 20th, 2003

An affiliate of the New York Times (print) just spammed me with what appears to be an authorized mailing.

As I’ve noted in our MarketingSherpa List of Shame repeatedly – print subscription sellers are among the absolute worst as an industry when it comes to allowing spammers to mail their offers. I assume they put out the offer on a CPA basis and then don’t care who sends it or what list they send to — just pay for positive results an figure the bad can’t hurt them because the spammers IP server will be shut down or black-listed, not the circulation marketer’s.

This reveals an almost complete disconnect between the direct response-driven (genumbers now) headset of mag circulation marketers, and the ultra-image-sensitive headset of the brand marketers who place ads in magazines.

Every time a major CPG or other big consumer brand has shown up on the List of Shame, their agency and often their internal brand managers have been all over us in a matter of minutes to find out where the bad mail came from and stop it.

Only a couple of the magazines who’ve shown up on our list have fretted over it. From the rest – silence.

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Anne Holland

Best Lists for Online Pub Marketing – Your Competitor's

July 18th, 2003

I’m sitting here waiting for my best friend Anthony to call me from his cell phone and tell me he’s lost somewhere on the way to my house.

We first met more than 10 years ago when he called me up from a direct competitor to ask if we could swap publication buyer mailing lists. I said, “Heck yes.”

That’s because people in the offline paid publishing world all know that aside from their in-house list, direct competitor’s buyer lists are the most profitable lists you can mail. It’s well proven that information buyers tend to buy more information on the same topic — as long as the title appears to just different enough from the stuff they already bought to also be useful.

The differences don’t have to be that big. For example, if a competitor told me he was doing a report on “Advanced subscription sales tactics” or “Selling subscriptions to
consumers” and he wanted to swap lists with the buyers of my general “How to sell subscriptions” report, I’d say ok. We’re both going to grow our businesses easily that way. It’s a happy thing.

Which explains why many print paid publishers are not only close friends with direct competitors, but also they are careful to develop complimentary products rather than identical head-to-head twins.

With complimentary products everyone makes more money because they can cross-promote. With head-to-head, it’s a waste unless the market is a giant boomtown that can sustain almost anything *and* you intend to never ask competitors to swap lists for other products in the future. (Because no one will swap with someone who might cross-sell a head-to-head.)

I suspect in the online world, competitor-who-will-swap-lists relations are even more invaluable than they are offline, simply because there are so few online-content-buyer lists on the rental market. Swapping may be your only chance at getting your hands on good lists.

If you view the competition as “the enemy we must beat”, you’re going to lose. If you view them as “our best marketing partner who we treat as well as possible”, you’re going to win.

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