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Mark Eversman of Paris Notes is betting heavily on paid Google click-throughs and an almost electronic-only future.

Mark Eversman, the publisher of one of my favorite newsletters, Paris Notes, candidly admits that times have been difficult for his business ever since 9/11.

His circulation, which had once reached 13,000, has steadily declined until it now stands aat about 9,000. "I think, or at least I hope, I'm down to about the hardcore of readers," he said in a telephone interview.

Paris Notes is 10x, $44/year.

"Yes, I suspect we have lost a certain number of readers who have become mad at France and don't want to spend any money 'supporting' them. What I have noticed is that our decline in subscribers has almost exactly paralleled the decline in tourist travel to France the past several years. Over the past six months or so both travel and response to direct mail appear to be recovering," he said.

"However, I used to be able to count on a response in the 1.5 percent range, but recently anytime I can break 1.0 percent, I'm overjoyed."

Eversman has never believed in spending one franc (euro) more that he had to on his marketing, and his newest DM package is about the most spare to date.

A #10 window with a one-page combination letter and order form and courtesy reply envelope--that's it. (He's replacing his previous control, which was a two-page effort he called his "humble little publisher" letter.

For the first time, however, he is using a second color. The order form portion of the letter is tint blue and with a solid blue bar headline.

The design, he freely admits, is a complete rip-off from a current package from The Wall Street Journal.

Here's what's new

Open your computer and do a Google search for Paris, France. On the right-hand side of the page you'll notice a click-through for Paris Notes.

"Every time someone clicks on that section, it costs me 15 cents. This is how those guys at Google became billionaires, not by doing free search," Eversman said.

"It's tremendously simple compared to direct mail. I design the site myself. I'm spared the agonies of direct mail--the planning, the writing and rewriting, and especially the risk involved in putting together thousands of dollars all at once to do a large mailing.

"As nearly as I can tell so far, the response rate I receive from these click-throughs is just about the same as I am getting from direct mail, except I'm spending 15 cents instead of 42 or 43 cents." (You can see how spare an Eversman package is if he is able to be in the mail for 42 cents in 2004.)

"And if I don't feel something is working, I can change it in five minutes, not having to wait until my next mail drop," Eversman said.

"Once a month they send me a bill. It comes directly off my credit card. If I want to control expenses, I could even set a limit and the system will shut down if I receive that many hits.

"If I could get more hits, there are a finite number of people websurfing and looking for Paris, I would move 100 percent of my marketing money to this channel," Eversman said.

Fulfillment

"In the longer term, I hope to convert as many of my subscribers as possible to electronic delivery and stop buying paper and stamps," he continued.

"My present fulfillment operation is probably as good as these get, but I've never been happy with this part of newsletter publishing. I'd be only too happy to be rid of it.

"I offer gift subs but that has always been a headache. You know people want acknowledgment cards mailed a certain date and so forth. My fulfillment has never been really good on small things like this. Now, though, subs can order online and either e-mail the recipient a 'card' or download a card from the site and mail it themselves.

"I know I'll always have to keep the paper version for some readers, but if you download and print out an issue of Paris Notes in pdf format, you'd be surprised how very close it is in appearance to the print edition. I know if you're Time magazine, people aren't going to want to read or print out 96 pages an issue, but eight pages is different," he said.

"We've been giving away back issues online to subscribers for three or four years as well as creating online special reports on hotels and restaurants. Subscribers love them and it costs me zero money."

Another great online opportunity

"I've never marketed internationally because the damn arcane rules of USPS prevent a Second Class permit publication from sending my overseas subscribers issues via First Class," he said.

"An electronic edition opens up a whole new market for me: the entire rest of the world. There are 800 million people in India; I know 100 or 200 of them would like more information about Paris."

As Eversman concludes his salesletter, "With Paris Notes, you'll always have Paris."

Paris Notes, P.O. Box 15818, North Hollywood, CA 91615, 800-677-9660.
COPYRIGHT 2004 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Publisher profile
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Oct 18, 2004
Words:851
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