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Brian Alt

Interview: Flint McGlaughlin, Part II
By Brian Alt



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Today concludes the two-part interview with Flint McGlaughlin, publisher of the Marketing Experiments Journal. To subscribe to the twice-monthly ezine, visit the Web site or do it via email.

Brian Alt: Is there a clear revenue model behind your ezine? Is it based in ad revenue, product or service sales, or some combination of other factors?

Flint McGlaughlin: Yes, we have a humble strategy. And although we have been approached by several leading content providers and told that we should charge a significant fee for these reports, we intend to keep them free.

We know that thankful subscribers will shower us with generous contributions, as they donate to our Amazon.com, save-the-Internet "care box".

Not really.

We have a two-tiered program, and in the future, we will be offering a series of marketing blueprints.

These blueprints will be completely separate from the Marketing Experiments Journal and will in no way subtract from its comprehensive reports.

The goal of the first publication is circulation. The goal of the second is revenue. Each supports the other. But like everything else, we are testing even this concept.

BA: What are the top three lessons you've learned from your experiments so far?

FM: 1. "There ain't no free lunch". Effective marketing will cost you. It may be money or it may be time, but whatever the price, you had better calculate all of it in your ratios.

2. There is only one way for ordinary mortals to "get it right": (a) Determine your objective, (b) develop your plan, (c) TEST your plan,(d) and then adjust. It's about measurement.

3. It does not matter which marketing weapon you choose to brandish. If your message doesn't connect with your audience, it's just empty posturing.

People don't want to be "marketed TO"; they want to be "communicated WITH". The age of hype and boastful, self-serving copy is quietly passing, and we say, "good riddance".

BA: What are your goals with MarketingExperiments.Com over the next year or two?

FM: Business plans are dangerous. There isn't a languishing "dot com" on the skids that does not own a lovely set of charts and graphs. But these are, more often than not, designed to impress the carpetbaggers. They are seldom clear paths to the revenue.

Although we regularly develop strategic plans, we are inclined to agree with the British Historian, Thomas Carlyle, who insisted, "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."

Our current business plan ambitiously calls for -- "getting the next report out on time."

We operate on principles. The plans may change, but the principles of good business are timeless (even in the age of the Almighty Internet).

BA: We've spoken before about the importance of a consistent ezine "personality". Can you touch on why you think that is important?

FM: People don't buy from companies; they buy from people. That may be the customer service rep, or the editor who writes the copy on the Web site. In either case, they buy from the person who makes the offer.

Its about relationships.

It's true in e-commerce. It's true in publishing. If you want to secure a strong retention rate, then you must connect with your readers.

For most publishers, the only point of intimacy is the written "voice". Think of yourself as an operator at 1 900-HOTHOT. Men don't call to talk with "the company". They call to talk with the girl.

If they like her... they will call again.

BA: How important is reader feedback? What are some of the lessons you've learned from your readers?

FM: Reader feedback is everything. It's how you measure the success of your ezine. It's also a promising way to add rich, "frontline" content.

Positive feedback is helpful, Negative feedback is exceedingly helpful.

Richard Livingstone said, "It is better to grow up in the company of prophets than of critics."

We prefer the critics; we just don't trust the prophets anymore.

Ezine-Tips for April 16, 2001

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