Mid-1997, Don Mace, an editor with 30 years of experience in publishing news and information to Federal employees, decided to launch his own company publishing guidebooks for Federal employees. Books to this marketplace were traditionally sold via direct mail -- but other publisher’s DM responses had been declining lately and direct mail requires a substantial upfront cash investment. Mace decided to go full throttle down a road no one else in his marketplace had taken yet -- email marketing.
Mace knew successful email marketing requires access to opt-in lists. So, prior to publishing any print books whatsoever, Mace’s team spent an entire year building their own opt-in list by offering a free weekly email newsletter. In June 1997 Mace and his son trudged up and down Capitol Hill personally handing out flyers advertising this new free weekly. They also surveyed Federal employees to find out exactly what topics they wanted information on (and what they didn’t care about.) Then they went back to their Richmond VA offices to publisher the highest quality, 2-3 page email weekly they possibly could.
Staffer Kevin Couch explains, “I’ve heard so many times from competitors that if you’re giving away content free you don’t need to worry about quality. That’s absolutely not true. There’s so much competition now that it’s the opposite!”
FEDweek launched the first of many print books mid-1998. Copies were marketed through announcements in the email newsletter. FEDweek contracted a 24/7 inbound telemarketing firm to take orders. Books prices were set at $9.95 plus $3 shipping. Couch says, “We keep the price low because there’s so much free stuff available online; but, by the time you’ve spent the money on time, paper and ink cartridges to get it you’ll spend about that much. So why not buy the printed copy from us?”
Despite hardly spending any money on marketing (except for those initial flyers and some Web development costs) FEDweek now has more than a million opt-in subscribers to its email newsletters. The Company’s been so successful selling print guidebooks to these readers that it’s launched a total of 15 titles so far, with more on the way. All orders are cash or signed government P.O. so FEDweek doesn’t carry heavy accounts receivables. And yes, this is one Internet-based company that is profitable!
NOTES: FEDweek also generates less significant revenue streams by sending messages to readers about special offers from hand-picked advertisers. The offers must be specifically directed to and genuinely benefit Federal employees.
Three months ago FEDweek launched a general-interest publication for all Americans entitled, “Retirement and Financial Planning Report” and they are interested in talking about partnerships with related Web sites and publishers. The Company is also interested in syndication deals.
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