Not just price: value

In an earlier post about the principles behind lean consumption, I wrote about the implications for media as customers migrate to a model in which they expect content to be provided when and as they want it.

I‘ve also written about my delivery history with MediaWeek, which is published most Mondays and at the time of my initial post (March 30) was reaching me about once a month.

Since that post, the likelihood of delivery has improved (between April 6 and Labor Day I missed “only” three issues), but the day of delivery is never better than Wednesday. In an effort to either get around the Postal Service, save money or both, the folks at Nielsen have had my magazine hand-delivered as a ride-along with USA Today’s Sports Weekend, which comes out on Wednesdays.

If you’re familiar with alternate delivery services, you won’t be surprised to learn that the two publications are typically left suspended by a red rubber band on the front (exterior) door of our small office building. Some days, the two publications slide off the handle and start migrating down 56th Street toward Third Avenue.

Other days, visitors robust enough to beat me to the office borrow Sports Weekend for a while (it appears to be more popular than MediaWeek) and we find the two publications returned to the elevator lobby at a future date.

I bring this up again not (just) because I am a grumpy, old(er) man. I recently received an invitation to renew my subscription to MediaWeek, something I had vowed I would not do again. But… they did try to fix the problem. And … the world needs good coverage of media, right?

So I opened the envelope. If I renew now, I can get a year of MediaWeek for $299, a 101% increase over the annual rate they offered me in 2008 (for better or worse, I renewed for two years, a move that seems to have convinced them I will accept any level of service).

I’ve encouraged (and continue to encourage) publishers to charge more for content. Maybe it got lost in the sentiment, but publishers also have to provide value that gives people a reason to pay more for content. It’s good that my delivery has moved from non-existent to just annoyingly crappy, but (as Jim Kane would say) that’s one of those things people just expect, not the basis for loyalty.

If you want to convince me to happily pay double, do something great and credibly promise me even more. A personalized service, a specialized database, a feature article about the value of consultants coming next month… something. Bad service and a 101% price hike is a non-starter.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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