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NEPA reveals survey results on the state of the industry.

Here's a chance to compare your own business practices and results with those of your fellow newsletter and specialized information publishers.

In preparation for a panel discussion on the State of the Industry, the newsletter association surveyed its members before the recent conference. There were 70 respondents. Here are the results, with some comments from the panelists.

* What challenges are you facing now?

#1 Challenge--New subscription revenue. (David Foster, IOMA: "#1 challenge for us is finding other products and services to make up for declining response rates." Tom Hagy, Mealey's: "It's #2 for us. #1 is Conferences. Conference attendance has been declining, and conferences, as you know, are always a new sale. There are no renewals.")

#2--New product development. (Foster: "We're replacing declining circulation with highend reports and consulting channels.")

#3--Operating profitably.

#4--Subscriber retention. (Ed Coburn, Harvard Health Publications: "Our renewals are pretty good. We really looked carefully at expenses. We went from Second Class mail to Third Class and virtually no one noticed.")

* Where is your revenue coming from?

Newsletters--59 percent of revenues. (Coburn: "Eighty-five percent of our revenues are newsletters. Revenue is steady. Growth is in other areas." George Schaeffer, Brownstone Publishers: "Ninety percent of revenue still comes from newsletters. Our core business is still newsletters.")

Conferences--7 percent.

Advertising--4 percent.

Online--4 percent.

Looseleafs--4 percent.

Consulting--3 percent.

Books--3 percent.

Journals--3 percent.

Special reports, directories, list rentals, audio conferences, webinars, and research--all 2 percent or less of revenues.

* Which products and services saw increases in revenue?

Online revenues--63 percent. Audio/web conferences--47 percent.

Conferences--39 percent.

Books--37 percent.

Special reports--30 percent. (That figure was challenged by Coburn and Foster. Foster: "People pay us to make them smarter over the next 12 months, but people generally think the apocalypse is coming in the next 30 days. So the Special Report has the appeal of here and now.")

* Which products and services saw decreases in revenue?

Newsletter subscriptions--44 percent.

List rentals--37 percent.

Looseleafs--25 percent.

Directories--19 percent.

Consulting--17 percent.

* Over the next 12 months, on what are you spending your marketing dollars? (1 = most money; 9 = least money; with the figures representing average response)

Direct mail--2.



Direct sales--4.1.



Free e-newsletters--5.1.

Space ads--6.9.

Fax marketing--7.

* For direct mail, are you mailing more, less, or the same as you did 12 months ago?

More--29 percent.

Less--46 percent.

The same--25 percent.

* Have your renewal and conversion rates increased, decreased, or stayed the same compared to 12 months ago?

Increased--renewal, 35 percent; conversion, 30 percent.

Decreased--renewal, 20 percent; conversion, 27 percent.

Stayed the same--renewal, 45 percent; conversion, 39 percent.

* What are your average renewals rates for b-to-b publications? (percentage of respondents, followed by renewal rate)

29.8 percent--61-70 percent.

27.6 percent--81-90 percent.

23.4 percent--71-80 percent.

10.6 percent--51-60 percent.

4.3 percent--90+ percent.

4.3 percent--40-50 percent.

* What products have you launched during the past 12 months?

Free e-newsletters--46 percent.

Subscription newsletters--42 percent.

Special reports--38 percent.

Audio conferences--32 percent.

Seminars--24 percent.

Conferences--22 percent.

Books--14 percent.

Paid e-newsletters--14 percent.

* Are you projecting revenues to be higher, lower, or the same in the next 12 months?

Increased revenues--64.2 percent.

Decreased revenues--12.5 percent.

Flat revenues--23.2 percent.

* Are you projecting profits to be higher, lower, or the same in the next 12 months?

Increased profits--67.9 percent.

Decreased profits--10.7 percent.

Flat profits--21.4 percent.
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Nov 15, 2003
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