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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Intermittent Blogging and Traffic 

As I've mentioned before, intermittent blogging does wonders for lowering your traffic and, I suppose, your reader loyalty. After practicing this philosophy in February, I did my best to blog more frequently in March. The result? A record month for this blog, with 20,360 visitors, who averaged 838 seconds with each visit (that's a hair under 14 minutes).

Last March, the first full month of operation of this blog, 3,650 visitors, who spent about 4.7 minutes each, showed up.

Thank you all for reading this blog, and investing some of your valuable time here.

(As a note, I haven't been practicing what I preach the last few days--a trade show and a conference on opposite coasts seems to be the culprit--and also I'll be mostly out of pocket all next week, when my family heads off on our annual spring break trip. I expect to resume regularly-scheduled programming after the 17th).

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Here's to Entrepreneurs 

Here's a nice piece from the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard on Glen Gibbons, who calls himself "the oldest surviving GPS journalist." Glen and his wife have launched Inside GNSS, using their own money, and a virtual work environment--both of which approaches are dear to my heart. Glen founded GPS World for then-Aster Publishing, and shepherded that magazine through its acquisition by Advanstar. It's now owned by Questex.

Key grab:

When Advanstar closed its Eugene office in 2003 and laid off most of the staff, Gibbons was one of 11 employees who were kept on and asked to work from their homes. Last June, Gibbons decided to start all over again and "rebrand my IP" - that is, his intellectual property - and start a new satellite navigation magazine. The magazine is family-owned, with more than $100,000 invested in it so far, he said.

There are few things harder than striking out on your own. It always seems easier (and safer) to draw a regular paycheck with benefits. But it's the entrepreneurs--the owners--who do so much of the innovation and wealth-creation in this world. They've burned their ships on the shore, and they're heavily invested in making a success out of what they do. They only get paid if they succeed.

While many companies have successfully built entrepreurial cultures, there's absolutely no substitute for the real thing. If you're feeling stale in your job, or unfulfilled, the best, and most dangerous, cure, is to hang out your own shingle.

Glen, you and your wife and partners have my utmost respect, and my best wishes for success.

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I Dislike RFPs 

There's nothing I dislike more than receiving an RFP form from an agency. Some of them, especially ones I've received from agencies representing tech companies, are abysmally long and complex, and very mechanical in their intent and approach--stacking my magazine or conference against the competition in terms of quantitative factors only.

By the same token, I'm sure that most agencies and clients dislike receiving a standard generic sales pitch from media--you know, the templated cover letter explaining why media brand X is number one, the media kit, also explaining why media brand x rocks, and the rate card, explaining how much the client will have to pay for the privilege of snuggling up with media brand x.

My preference is always to talk thoroughly with the client, understand his or her marketing needs and plans, and then present a customized proposal designed to show how my media answers those needs and contributes to those plans.

But I'd guess that most clients and agencies don't get customized proposals. (In fact, many agencies actively discourage us from dealing with the client to understand the marketing strategy.) What they do get is a blizzard of sales materials and sales calls, each of which is focused on the strengths of a given media property.

So RFPs exist, to try to organize that blizzard into something useful and usable.

I applaud American Business Media and the 4As for jointly designing an RFP form intended to meet the needs of both media and agencies/clients. The RFP form can be found here.

Comments MediaPost:

In the end, ABM and AAAA hope the new standard RFP form will prevent the "train wrecks" that result from conflicting client and agency expectations. "Ironing out expectations, and agreeing on methods, lets you finally have accountability," according to [ABM's Steve] Ennen. "And it's accountability for all parties."

This RFP form isn't perfect. In fact, there are elements (especially those related to the treatement of rates) that make me cringe a bit. But it's far better than most other RFPs I've seen, and represents a great start in forging more alignment between the client, the agency and the media brand.

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