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Publishers at NEPA marketing conference in New York see big improvement in business climate.

The newsletter and specialized information publishers, editors and marketers attending the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Association marketing conference in New York City November 13-14 exhibited an optimism long absent from the industry.

Tom Hagy, general manager at LexisNexis Mealey Publications & Conference Group, summed up the attitude of many we spoke with by saying, "It's back to business as usual. Two years ago everybody was in a twist over the internet, but now we're back in business. Today, though, everybody is more open-minded about their business models. The internet 'scare' made us see we can profit by examining how we do things."

Asked how sales were, a vendor enthusiastically said, "Excellent." Peter Yessne of Staffing Industry Analysts in California said, "It's been a bad three years, but now I think the word would be 'encouraging.'"

E-mail marketing was the most popular topic at the conference, with various speakers offering various models for converting propects and trial subscribers to paid subscribers. A black cloud, however, hung over any discussion of electronic marketing--the pending anti-spam legislation on both the federal and state levels (see story below). One Californian told us, "I just spent two days finding out how to use e-mail in my marketing scheme but come January I can't do it."

While most publishers in the past few years have come to rely less on subscription revenue in favor of ancillaries such as audio conferences, special reports and online advertising, some are still concentrating principally on getting new subscribers the old-fashioned way--through traditional direct mail and forced free trials. George Schaeffer, publisher of Brownstone Publishers Inc.'s nearly 50 newsletters, provided a notable example: "Ninety percent of our revenue still comes from newsletters. Our core business is still newsletters, so we continue to launch new titles."

Twentieth annual conference

The 20th annual NEPA mid-year marketing conference returned "home" to New York, at The Plaza no less, after being staged in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Miami the past three years. Attendance was higher than last year, with about 175 attending and another 20 meeting for a simultaneous editorial conference. Prominently missing from the audience were any newsletter personnel from Europe--probably a first.

Asked what he thought of the meeting, Paul Szymanksi, head of Harvard Business School Publishing's consumer newsletters, said, "I'm impressed with the openness, the lively exchange of ideas and techniques--especially in the area of e-mail marketing, which basically is new to all of us."

We asked a new NEPA member his opinion of the association and the conference. Arnold York, publisher of Political Pulse in Sacramento, said, "I'm delighted. I'm also a trial lawyer and belong to two lawyers associations, and I'm a newspaper publisher and a member of the Newspaper Publishers Association. I've gone to their conventions for years.

"But NEPA is truly unique! Everyone is so open and friendly and candid with details like renewal rates, percentages, marketing techniques," York said.
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Nov 15, 2003
Previous Article:Integrated marketing.
Next Article:NEPA executive director issues urgent alert on federal anti-spam legislation.

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