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Friday, May 20, 2005

Digital Magazines: Guaranteed ROI 

Texterity Times: Guaranteed Success Program for Business-to-Business Magazines

Texterity is so confident in the ROI possible to b2b publishers by using digital magazines that it's offering a money-back guarantee:

Under this program, we guarantee that publishers will start to accrue savings -- based on a comparison of the costs of print manufacturing and distribution with the costs of digital editions -- in six months or less.

Can't beat that.

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NY Times 'Paid Content' Replacement Guide 

Hugo E. Martin on Media, Marketing & Internet: Too Much Content on the Web - or How to Replace NYT's Behind the Wall Content

Hugo Martin points to a post from Peter Levinson which shows Peter's handy New York Times "paid content" replacement guide--"free" versions of what will soon be behind a paid wall at the Grey Lady's website. He offers media equivalents and blog replacements.

Levinson notes: Markos makes the point neatly when he says, "There's way too much content out there for me to pay for any of it." I'm sure there are many who will read Markos's comment and wonder what he's talking about or flat out disagree with him. But the simple fact is that Markos is correct.

This is the same logic behind outsourcing skilled service jobs to India--of course, the service is the same, until you've spent several hours struggling through language issues to get your email service to work again. But it certainly is cheaper.

We who earn our living "monetizing content" and audiences have a lot of work to do. Note this grab from the always excellent Jeff Jarvis:

At the Syndicate conference this week, I was standing next to Doc [Searles] and a fellow media executive who was saying what all us media executives say all the time: We need to find the business models that will support quality journalism.

Without missing a beat, Doc says, "You need to come up with business models that support news without newspapers."

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'Nuff Said 

Rex Hammock is on the case, guest-blogging at ABM's MediaPace.

From Folio:'s coverage of the brouhaha over the official blog of the association:

Hammock says he understands the complaints, but based on his own experience launching rexblog, he is more forgiving of missteps. “I guess when you're doing something that is a little bit more visible than a personal blog, it needs to have its act together a bit more.”

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Promise of Service 

face2face: Customer service or the lack thereof

I find myself disagreeing with Sue Pelletier, who posts at the face2face blog.

She notes:

I heard an ad on the radio this morning that cut through my "I need more coffee" fog like a Jedi lightsaber. The company, which helps keep basements dry, says, "We answer our phones. We return our messages. And we show up for appointments." That's their big marketing message--we actually do the bare minimum any company could possibly do in terms of customer service.

Because my wife and I are suffering through some home remodeling, the promise of service from this type of company would be a welcome relief. I'd make the call and put the promise to the test.

While Sue is right that it's a shame to be proud of promising minimal service, the reality is that service these days is generally less-than-minimal. Just getting the basics right is a big step up.

And that's one of the roots of the problem of getting a prospect to take a call or a meeting with a salesperson, a struggle my friend Dave Jung is having. Sure, all salespeople should be brilliant, great listeners and problem solvers. But they're not. So people avoid them. So how about a promise?

"Allow us to talk to you directly. We'll be brief. We promise that we'll listen carefully to your needs, and offer solutions, not try to push products we need to sell. If we can't help you, we'll be honest with you, and refer you to companies who can help you."

Offer some sort of 'penalty' if you break your promise--$15 in cash or coupon (or something like this) to compensate for the prospect's time. Offer a benefit if you keep your promise, as well--preferential pricing, free consulting time.

Yes, it's sad to have to promise things like respect for time, respect for the client's needs or basic service levels. But it's sadder not to promise--or deliver--on these.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Day in the Life of a Magazine Rep 

mediabistro.com: Articles: A Day in the Life

Great piece on MediaBistro describing everyman's adventures in magazine ad sales. It's a tough way to earn a living. Nice byline, too.

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Dumb Move 

MORGAN STANLEY INSTITUTES NEW 'PULL AD' PRESS POLICY

I only wish advertisers had an automatic 'run ad' policy when coverage of their company was positive. Then this type of silly behavior might make some sense.

Sure, advertisers have a right to vote with their dollars. But the vote should be based on some basic ideas:

You advertise to reach an audience of potential buyers of your products and services. The editorial content of a given media property either delivers that audience or it doesn't. Your advertising should create a call to action among potential buyers. If you want to try to counteract bad press, do it. But better to sell your company and its offering. If you can't think of a way to do that, go out of business.

From the AdAge.com story:

Publishing executives also said there’s been a marked increase in such directives in recent years. “Absolutely,” said one high-ranking editor who wished to remain anonymous. “There’s a fairly lengthy list of companies that have instructions like this.”

Bah.

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Blog "Agents" 

NYT ONLINE CHIEF DEFENDS CHARGING FOR COLUMNISTS

There's a decent idea in this piece from AdAge.com on Martin Nisenholtz's keynote at the "Syndicate: Content Syndication Trends" conference: aggregrating blogger 'columnists' and offering those bloggers some form of revenue share.

Grab:

"Why can't Amazon.com-type revenue shares apply to information sites?" he asked the audience, saying that he is kicking around the blog idea and wants feedback from potential partners. He explained that it would work by a revenue-sharing arrangement with bloggers who would offer the columns to their users in the blogosphere. "They would be agents of the Times," he said.

Though I'd note that a blog and a column are usually two different things, the idea of bloggers as 'agents' is interesting.

This is something b2b media web sites should consider. Pull together all the bloggers serving your audience. Offer the bloggers editorial independence, increased traffic, and some money. Track their visits, and give priority to the most popular bloggers.

Basically, create a way to intermediate all of the conversations going on in your market space, and become the Huffington Post for your business, sort of.

I think the benefits to a b2b media web site are pretty obvious.

Of course, there are risks. The idea of bloggers as 'agents' needs to be worked through. In this case, agency would need to be a simple relationship based on distribution/syndication and content creation. It can't be an employment relationship, and it certainly can't imply control, editorial or otherwise. As a result, you may end up with some advertisers or readers who get their feelings hurt by your bloggers or their audience. But you can also gather a lot of traffic, a lot of buzz, and make your website the central clearinghouse for your business.

(Perhaps this is something Tony Silber and the folks at Folio: could look to for the blogs serving the print media space? Hint, hint.)

UPDATE: Rafat Ali has in-depth notes on the keynote, and a link to the full audio feed.

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Newspaper Size and Web Readability 

if:book: incredible shrinking newspaper

if:book's Ben Vershbow posts on the move of some newspapers from broadsheet to tabloid format--cost savings, and also easier to read when sitting on a crowded airplane.

He points to this International Herald Tribune story on the subject.

But his key observation is:

...the IHT is noteworthy as one of the few online newspapers to eschew vertical scrolling for the layout of articles. Instead, they have simple, attractive (and I would argue, much more readable) horizontal scrolling across fixed, three-column plates. With its long vertical fields, you might say that web news, too, is stuck in the broadsheet model. The problem is that, unlike a print newspaper, a computer screen can't be folded to improve readability, or to isolate a desired area of the page.

The IHT's web layout seems much more readable to me as well.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Magazine: the Magazine about Magazines 

MediaPace : Setting the pace for business-to-business dialogue: Print is alive

In the comments to ABM's recent blog post on print, Josh Gordon notes: "...we need to become advocates of new ways to use creative in print that embrace the new more complex environment it will play in."

If you haven't seen Publishers Press' very fine Magazine: the Magazine about Magazines, you should get a copy for your publishers and salespeople. Publishers Press produced a magazine which shows many options for advertising with a difference: four color printed polybags, bellybands, french gates, gatefolds, tip ins, CD/DVD inserts, and more. We all know how to use these (I think), but to see them all in one place is an an excellent exercise in stretching the boundaries of ROP advertising.

Note: Publishers Press is printing our client's ERI--Extended Retail Industry Journal, which moves from 'early former vaporzine' to real magazine next week.

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Publishing CEOs: Outlook 

Jordan Edmiston Group's April 2005 Client Briefing (which I received in the mail last week) is online. This issue features the views of nine big media company CEOs on the remainder of 2005 and and 2006. It's worth a read.

While each CEO has a different take on the challenges we in media face, I was pleased to see that at least two CEOs noted one of our most critical and ongoing issues, which is people.

Here's a grab from Richard Harrington, president and CEO of Thomson Corporation:

It’s not the constant changes in our markets that keep me awake at night. Every market discontinuity creates new market opportunities that we are prepared to pursue. What keeps me up at night is worrying about people. Recruiting, developing and retaining talent is the key to sustainable competitive advantage, especially in our industry. Over the past couple of years, we have placed a concentrated effort into enhancing our talent management process, but you can never get too good at that.

Kudos to Jordan Edmiston Group, Wilma Jordan and their fine team of managing directors, including my old friend Richard Mead (the former vp, finance of Advanstar, and one of the architects of its salvation in the early 90s), for continuing to produce and distribute these Client Briefings.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

MyBlogLog 

I just signed up for MyBlogLog.com, which tracks the outgoing links that you, dear reader, click from my blog. I won't use this information for any nefarious purpose--just want to see what you're clicking on.

I'd like to direct all of you to MyBlogLog, though, to see a cool way to sell a service. The help section is very honest about the difference between the free service and the paid Pro version:

Sign up for the free version and take some time to figure out if it's worth spending your hard-earned cash on. You can convert to the Pro version any time and you can always switch back to the free version if you find you're not using the Pro features.

and

If you're not sure which version is right for you, sign up for the free site. We give all free members a week's worth of free real-time stats in order to make sure that they've got the JavaScript working properly on their web sites. If you find yourself checking your link stats multiple times each day, then the Pro version may be the way to go. If you only check your stats every couple of days, then the free version is probably the ticket for you.

I haven't even started using the service, and I already feel loyal.

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