On 2/21 Greg Woods wrote:
>First off, I don't think bribing list owners is the answer. You might be
>able to get a list owner to accept the bribe, but this would devalue the
>list and piss the subscribers off. You might get your ad posted this way,
>but you aren't likely to get a positive response to your product. What I
>think you should do is:
Greg, thanks for your quick response to my suggestion that list managers
get paid for use of their lists. Thanks too for your candid suggestions--
the 3-part approach you suggested is just about what I have done to date.
Since you replied first, Greg, I'll use your remarks to talk about ads in
lists. You refer to "paying for the use of a mailing list" as a "bribe,"
and suggest a list owner would take such a bribe to place an unsuitable ad
that would piss off subscribers. You suggest further that any ad placed
this way would not get a positive response. Let's look at this another way.
Mailing lists, at least in digest form, have a lot in common with
traditional special-interest magazines. After all, most of the info in a
list comes from extremely interested or capable readers who become writers.
These writers usually discuss topics that interest the readers. Usually
only a few writers contribute actively to the list. There is often an
editor, called a moderator, or list manager, who decides which stories get
published. And the moderator often contributes short editorials to keep the
So how do ads work in a magazine. First, business _expects_ to pay for ads.
PR people work very hard to get the "free ads" referred to as publicity.
They might even _bribe_ an editor with a "free lunch." But the "bribe"
usually won't get an irrelevant puff piece into the magazine. And in
special interest magazines like Bride or PC World, ads DO interest the
readers, sometimes enough to be the reason they buy the magazine (Computer
Shopper). Magazines prove the concept.
What seems to be missing is the profit motive.
Why is it missing? Not because list managers don't like to make money! I
have read too many complaints about off-the-net publishers and commercial
online services profiting from net laborers. Would any of you mind getting
a cut of the Prodigy or AOL pie? I doubt it. Frankly, I think the real
explanation is that it's a lot easier (and perhaps more fun) to run a list
for free than for profit.
Running a list for profit means either charging fees to subscribers or
charging people in a carefully controlled way to place ads in your lists.
Neither approach is easy, but neither is unthinkable. Both _do_ require new
Charging subscription fees means getting subscribers,, making sure your
list has real value to them, and finding a way to collect the money.
Including ads means maintaining consistent editorial focus, knowing
something about your readers, selling ads, and considering carefully what
mix of ads and editorial will keep your subscribers happy.
These are not the skills it takes to run a free mailing list on the net. So
it's not surprising that many list managers are nervous about "profits".
But guess what-- most other netizens don't know how to run a list for
profit either. List managers are in an enviable position-- they can
experiment with ads at negligible cost since they run the list anyway.
I challenge the entrepreneurs reading this list to think differently about
the lists they manage. No one benefits from spamming. Maybe _controlled_
advertising is the right approach.
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