Customers (people) are funny

So we launched last week as the website for the Community Magazine Network and with our new found eye candy I began prospecting again. We have a database of 800 or so community magazine publishers, which is one of things that came from a year of research, and I’m working my way through based on those publishers that seem to have the best mix of alignment with our mission of building community and forward thinking enough to bring it into fruition. (If you’re a publisher and I haven’t called don’t be offended)

Dialing for dollars is always an interesting endeavor and you never know what you’re going to get but it’s pretty funny to see the range of responses to our value proposition… the sharing of best practices with other publishers amidst the changing media landscape, an audit that is not quite as robust as the big-boys but still extremely valuable (and cheap), and participation in an ad network that will attract large regional and national advertisers to these mags for the first time because we’re bringing them a bulk-buy based on their demographic and geographic objectives yada yada. The most common quip we get is related to attracting large advertisers. Yes, it is challenging and will take some time. No, we have not placed any ads yet (our network is just gaining steam). Yes, we have a plan to attract and service advertisers in a way that is novel and value adding.

On the other end of the spectrum, most publishers identify with the premise that the media landscape is quickly evolving and it’s impossible to stay on top of the latest trends and opportunities AND run your business in the process. But every now and then I talk with a publisher that ‘doesn’t need any help’. What’s most interesting is that it’s not the people who’ve been in the business for decades who are saying this while the newbies want to learn in fact we’ve found some of the most enthusiastic collaborators are those that started their magazine in the late ’70s or early ’80s.

Some of the response is probably due to sheer skepticism about anyone calling out of the blue with an offer but I suspect the other drivers of this behavior are self-doubt and/or fear. Self doubt in the sense that if they realize there’s one thing they don’t know then what else are they doing wrong and they don’t want to deal with that type of uncertainty. The fear is related to fear they’ll get found out. Most community magazine publishers are amazing people who treat their magazine as a mission and not just a source of income in the sense that they give a lot more to their community than they take but, unfortunately, this is not true of them all. For those, I believe, they’d rather stay solitary than come clean (perhaps even to themselves).

With the couple dozen calls I’ve made since our launch (most resulting in voicemails) and couple hundred I made to recruit the prelaunch members you see on the For Publishers page I’ve had the full spectrum of conversations. Fortunately, the majority are with people who I’d enjoy speaking with just to hear their stories.

Am I completely off-base? Why do you think people respond the way they do?


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