Friday, September 2, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Should You Change . . . Your Thinking

I wrote the headline for this blog to be intentionally ambiguous so that you would wonder which of the two ways (or possibly more) I meant it. But, either way works.

Once again Seth Godin comes through with a short blog post that is absolutely “on point” for nonprofit fund raisers. Even though he is writing about The New Yorker magazine; it might as well be directed to nonprofit direct marketing fund raising organizations. Read below:

Should The New Yorker change?

For the first time in its history, the editors at The New Yorker know which articles are being read. And they know who is reading them.

They know if the cartoons are the only thing people are reading, or if the fiction really is a backwater. They know when people abandon articles, and they know that the last 3,000 words of a feature on the origin of sand is being widely ignored.

They also know, or should know, whether people are looking at the ads, and what the correlation is between lookers and article readers. The iPad app can keep track of all this, of course.

The question then: should they change? Should the behavior of the readers dictate what they publish?

Of course, this choice extends to what you publish as well doesn’t it?

-Seth Godin

Half of my readers had no idea publishers could track this type of digital information from their online readers. The other half either knew it or guessed it was possible but hadn’t gotten to Seth’s question of how it changes what they publish.

The online digital world, whether magazines, Web sites, emails or any manner of online communication, creates a stream of response information. When you send a direct mail solicitation and get no response, you really have no idea what happened to that specifically addresses piece of mail. That is not the case with digital media.

Seth Godin is really asking The New Yorker, "Who determines content?" What if they employed a famous editor who got some of the hottest authors to write short pieces for The New Yorker only to find out that no one read their stories?

How about fund raisers? Do you know what people read when they come to your Web site or you send them an email? Do you react to this information? What is the correlation between reading a particular email appeal or story on your Web site and clicking the donate button?

Direct marketing keeps you humble; you may think you know what the reader wants, but in the end, they let you know if you are right. And, as we move into the digital world . . . we don’t have to guess why.


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