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How're we doing?

New York mayor Ed Koch used to buttonhole constituents and ask, "How'm I doing?" After writing almost 200 issues of this newsletter, it finally occurred to us that we should ask our subscribers the same question. So in May we popped a two-page editorial survey in the mail and waited for the verdict.

The results--based on responses from 191 helpful subscribers--suggest that we're pretty much on target with our content, focus, and assumptions about readers. But now we have better data to fine-tune our coverage and make decisions about such issues as format changes and new features. Here's what we learned:

* Who reads Soft*letter? We've always produced Soft*letter primarily for CEOs and senior managers of personal computer software companies, and that's exactly how 81% of our readers describe themselves, followed by 13% who are consultants, investors, or analysts. Among our entire readership, about 50% are CEOs, 28% hold marketing and sales jobs, 8% work in operations (including finance, manufacturing, and tech support), and 7% hold R&D or product management titles. we also discovered that 57% of our subscribers have earned graduate-level degrees; of these, 48% are MBAs.

Moreover, we seem to reach a fairly broad secondary audience. Almost 80% of our subscribers circulate the newsletter to "several other people" in their companies, which perhaps suggests that we should get more creative about group subscriptions and small-scale site licenses.

* Are we covering the right topics? we asked our readers to identify the topic areas that are "very important" to them. Not surprisingly, marketing, technology, and product-related stories topped the rankings:

1. Marketing and distribution strategies

2. Technology trends, development platforms

3. Product development and design trends

4. News analysis

5. Case studies of innovative companies

6. Previews of innovative products, new categories

7. Statistical benchmarks and financial ratios

8. Operations (e.g., tech support, manufacturing, etc.)

9. Interviews with experts ("how-to")

10. Data and analysis about public companies

* What about format? We've always believed that brevity and clarity are important virtues for a newsletter, and apparently our readers agree: 75% say they usually read Soft*letter the day it arrives, and 82% prefer our standard six-page length. There's similar agreement about our typography: 79% like our "classic (i.e., typewriter-like) appearance", while only 21% think Soft*letter "really needs modern graphics, type and layout." (However, comments on this question were often pretty passionate. So we're still considering a few modest design changes.)

* What other newsletters do Softe*letter subscribers read? Our readers are definitely newsletter junkies: 49% also subscribe to Software Industry Bulletin, 40% to PC Letter, and 35% to Release 1.0. In addition, 44% regularly attend meetings of the Software Publishers Association, and 25% take part in regional software association events.

* Who reads SLC? We send all our subscribers complimentary copies of SLC, our monthly classified advertising newsletter, and about 60% say they read it regularly (24% on the day it arrives). Moreover, 19% report that they "occasionally" follow up on an advertised item or service. (In the interests of saving a few trees and some postage, we may discontinue sending SLC to people who toss it out unread.)
COPYRIGHT 1991 Soft-letter
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:results of Soft*Letter's readers' survey
Date:Jul 15, 1991
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