Expertise On Demand
17 Aug 2009, 11:59PM PT
10 Aug 2009, 12:18PM PT
Closed: 17 Aug 2009, 11:59PM PT
As you know, we've been running our CwF+RtB experiment for a few weeks now. We're looking to do new promotions and special "this week only" types of offerings, on a regular basis. Two weeks ago, the special offer was a free Techdirt hoodie or free lunch with Mike Masnick, with the purchase of both the Book Club and the Music Club packages. This past week, we tried separating out just Amanda Palmer's signed book and CD for those who didn't want the entire Music Club. We've got plenty of ideas for other promotions, but we thought, why not get some ideas from you? And we'll do it as an Insight Community case, as well, to demonstrate again how the Insight Community works. So, the way this will work is that you get to suggest ideas for promotions within CwF+RtB (or potentially new tiers that go beyond the 1 week promotion), and if we use your idea (this only applies to the first person to suggest that particular idea), you'll get a free Approaching Infinity package, with the book signed by Mike (that doesn't come with the regular package). So, you'd get Mike's signed book plus a free t-shirt. We look forward to your ideas!
Build your own tier by Aguy Whoneedstenbucks
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 12:36PM
Why not set up a "Build Your Own Tier"? People could pick the things they like most from the current available tiers. For smaller tiers (a few t-shirts, a hoodie, and a book for example) you could have an automatic system that builds a tier based on templates for each item plus a static base price. For larger tiers (lunch with Masnick, an Insight case, all of the CDs, and shutting down the blog for fourteen and a half weeks) you could actually get someone to quote a price since things like that are a bit harder to pin down with a template.
Sponsored Post by bulljustin
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 12:39PM
Any user who wants to sponsor a post can give a topic to the Techdirt writers to cover as the writer sees fit. The post can be clearly labeled as a Sponsored Post, as well as include a standardized initial request for coverage of a specfic topic.
Additionally this experiment could be a proof of concept for funding investigative journalism.
Stand out/advertise by Sam Erb
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 12:40PM
Masnick is WRONG paraphenalia by bulljustin
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 12:50PM
Give your haters something to proudly show hoiw much they disagree with you. Tshirts that screams "Masnick is WRONG" on the front and "See why at www.techdirt.com" on the back, stationary they can hand out at music & news industry conferences, or something along those lines. You gave them the chance to shut you up, but it financially unreasonable to expect any of them to buy it. You could give these away at nearly cost and still come out ahead.
connect with fans using fans by andrew giampa
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 12:57PM
What better way to connect with fans than with a fan. Specifically one of those little handheld fans with programmable LED lighting that spells words and phrases as it spins.
Teaching by Matt Reingold
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 1:28PM
So here is the gist of the idea I am mentioning:
There are a lot of topics worth teaching people, for those willing to lend an ear. Teaching is something that takes some experience, but I think for concepts such as digital music, piracy, educating the masses, common business sense, streisand effects, building up website interest, whatever. I'm sure some companies are completely daft about that.
As another topic of interest here, how to gain valuable feedback from your customers might be another thing to teach.
How about we teach them? Support techdirt, have Mike come play teacher for a day, albeit remotely or even over the phone or something if not in person. I think this sounds parallel to the concept of the insight community, and it is in a sense, although potentially broader.
Counter Point by Mike Martinet
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 1:54PM
The purchaser would given the opportunity to provide a rebuttal for a specified number of articles during an allotted time-period. They could also be offered the opportunity to rebut only articles on a particular topic. The rebuttal would be printed on the front page along with the original article, and follow the original into the archives.
Purchasers would have to abide by a code of conduct - obviously you couldn't tell them what to say, but you could limit the rebuttal to the word count of the original, forbid profanity and preclude adolescent behavior such as an entire argument consisting of the phrase "Mike is a butthead".
Alternative to Book Club by Joel Cornell
Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 4:40PM
This might sound ridiculous, but one of the problems I have with the Book Club is that all of the books are signed. While this increases their monetary value, it decreases their personal value as I can no longer underline or flag pages, write in the margins, or even read the books without worrying about damaging the product (for example, I wouldn't be able to take one of the books on an airplane to read it, as the chance of damaging it is too high). It would be great if either there were a cheaper option that offered the books unsigned, or an option that gave two copies: one signed, one unsigned. This would be a great alternative to buying the books on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble, because a portion of the money would go to Techdirt, so I would still get to benefit Techdirt and be a part of the community while ingesting the information in the books.
Original it is not... by David Widdick
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 @ 1:53AM
Mugs. Not all offices have vending machines (mine doesn't) and a good old fashioned mug and pen set can go a long way.
Techdirt Swag by Phillip Sipe
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 @ 7:08AM
Something that has so far delayed my purchace of any package: I keep hoping that there will be a cheap option that allows me to get both a Techdirt T-Shirt and and Techdirt Hoodie. That way I can be a Techdirt-wearing fan all year round. (Without being freezing/overheated)
Currently the only package with both is $100,000 for ten of each with other stuff.
Connecting with Fans: Expanded Edition. by Robert Miles
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 @ 7:19AM
Admittedly, it was surprising to see Techdirt offer the "CwF + RtB" model. It's been using it since the site went live on the internet, so it really didn't need to "sell" t-shirts. The reason behind the model was understood, but something's missing.
The problem, from my position as a long time reader, is the model feels cold despite its attempt to connect with fans. How is throwing a list of items for sale connecting with fans? Unless a buyer is willing to shell out $1,000 or more, there is no "connection".
To help establish this connection, each tier, even the $5 edition, should allow buyers to ask questions to the staff of Techdirt. Once submitted, the crew can then answer them via a weekly post. If connecting is the goal, this is one step to help establish that goal.
The CwF + RtB model itself must be dynamic to change. Otherwise, it's nothing more than a weekly catalog of wares. Connecting with Fans should be the emphasis. Finding ideas for this dynamic change can be a challenge. It's going to be difficult to pass a new business model if this model only works once per buyer. Repeat customers is necessary to sustain it.
Given the travels Techdirt staff do, it would be nice to see a spontaneous "Lunch at [location]" tier in which the first 10-25 (depending on size of eatery) can really connect and gives a reason to buy (again). Not all readers live in California, nor can just get up and visit the state. Help make an effort the next time the crew is in New York, as an example.
In summary: focus less on the "Reason to Buy" and more on the "Connecting with Fans". The tiers, as presented, lacks the latter under the $1,000 mark.
A CwF+ RtB by any other name will smell sweeter by Joseph Hunkins
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 @ 11:20AM
My quick suggestion it to change the name to "Tech Connections" or "Tech Insiders" or "The Maz Special" or " anything that does not require such a high level of Techdirt familiarity. The name is too cleverly complex for me.
Agree with those suggesting links / mentions and counter points as good package items although since Google bans "selling links" this type of thing needs to be handled in good form to avoid pissing off the big G. Maybe just include a lot more TechDirt advertising in these packages.
CwF+RtB by Gene Cavanaugh
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 @ 9:34PM
Treating something like this as an "all or nothing" thing - you either are so engrossed you will put out big bucks (relatively speaking) or you "don't care enough" is, I think, ignoring an opportunity!
Most of us would love to have lunch with Mike, and/or we are interested in some of the side benefits (or, as in my case, NOT!). However, we are not willing to fully commit for "half a loaf".
So, offer something special, but low cost, that gives you a ticket(s) in a lottery. I would buy a reasonably priced "this dirty shirt brought to you by TECHDIRT" or some such, if I also had a chance to win lunch with Mike (or Mike (Ho, that is)).
Highlight User Comments by Brendan Moore
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 @ 4:20AM
I'm choosing to focus on the "Connect with Fans" aspect a little more heavily here. In fact, this suggestion doesn't have any buying directly connected to it -- though, hopefully it might lead to better fan relationships resulting in giving them RtB.
It's simple: Read the user submitted comments attached to your stories, and highlight those that are particularly insightful or interesting.
It can be as simple as providing a coloured background to the comment. Perhaps it gets a little tag ("Mike likes this") or the comment gets bumped up to the top and is displayed immediately beneath the story (or even shown with the story on the front page!).
It costs Techdirt nothing (except a little time), but it would make the user/Fan feel like their input is valued at Techdirt when they put the effort in. They get the other end of the Connection which hopefully gives them a reason to stick around, and eventually a reason to buy.
There won't be great comments on every story -- maybe not even every day -- but, it takes very little effort to show them they are appreciated when they do show up.
Might even have the side benefit of taking the quality of all comments up a notch.
Think way cheaper by Devin Moore
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 @ 5:12AM
Five bucks should get you a window decal or some kinda cubicle art, not just an online badge. If you want to sell something just online for very very cheap, why not put up a carpet page and sell squares for a dollar each to members, sorta like milliondollarhomepage.com did?
Move From Products To Services Woven into the Techdirt Experience/Community by Phillip Baker
Thursday, August 13th, 2009 @ 2:59PM
Some CwF+RtB packages are not really that closely tied to use of Techdirt content and the Techdirt experience. Packages should offer something deeper for the most engaged Techdirt readers/commenters/insight community members. I also echo the commenters that have suggested CwF+RtB packages should move towards becoming ongoing services rather than one-off product buys.
I like some of the ideas already mentioned (my fault for not being fast enough) but I'd also extend or augment them in the following ways:
1. Paid 'Member' profiles: Sam Erb already mentioned this towards the top and I really like the idea to color/badge/highlight profiles for paid members to distinguish them from regular profiles. LinkedIn does this with paid subscriptions. Subscribers get a bunch of additional services there but I think the badge is valuable in itself. Memberships could be limited to a certain number of profiles to create exclusivity. Once filled, they only become available when existing members don't re-new. I'm not sure how existing Techdirt badges work but membership in an exclusive model would become more appealing if badges could be embedded into users' own blogs/sites etc. Alternatively, in an uncapped model, as the number of memberships go up there is the potential to introduce levels i.e. blue, silver, and gold in reducing numbers at higher price points to preserve status. However, this could also become less effective if seemingly every comment/profile is a different color.
Paid member profiles is also a no-brainer candidate to extend as an ongoing subscription. Perhaps Techdirt editors could promote (up to) one 'member' comment per post to the top of each thread as a 'featured comment.' This adds an incentive to become a paid member but might not corrupt the user experience as much as a paid service to promote comments directly, as Brendan Moore suggests, although that is another option:
2. Paid Comments: Brendan's idea for paid comments might also be a very worthwhile experiment and could be done a number of ways.
Users could pay for their comment to be badged/highlighted where they naturally appear in threads, or perhaps you make room for one paid comment per post at the top of each thread (or some other prominent position) on a first come first served basis. This avoids a slew of paid comments on any given thread.
Either way, paid comments is another great candidate for an ongoing subscription and could be offered as a monthly allowance (with rollover?) or as a flat-rate subscription (as well as piecemeal and all of the above).
3. Brown Bags/Open Days I am trying to think of more things that deepen the Techdirt offering and appeal to the most engaged users. It seems like having lunch with the Techdirt team has appeal for that reason. What if this access is formalized as brown bag lunches or open days at Techdirt offices or elsewhere? Paid attendees could discuss current issues/topics of interest to the Techdity community. Perhaps these could even be created as virtual discussions in order to remove any limits on geography. These might also appeal to your Insight Community clients as well, either as paid attendees themselves, or as lead generation for you if they get free-access to witness or participate in discussions with the Techdirt community before sponsoring a case.
"Case Study" feature by Lucciana Costa
Friday, August 14th, 2009 @ 10:33AM
This may be the independent musician in me speaking here, but I know I am absolutely not the only one out there who is their own entrepeneur, so I think a lot of people would find this as exciting as I would.
Select an independent business person, whether it be a musician or small business owner, or artist, or filmmaker, or whatever you choose, who is unknown to a mass majority of people. Conduct a few email interviews with that person and then feature them in a "Case Study." Each Case Study would be comprised of two articles. The first would be an introduction to who each person is, what they do, their thoughts/experiences with CwF+RtB, etc. The second article would be a follow up as to how being feautred in TechDirt increased their sales/website hits/exposure. Anything they've noticed from the TechDirt shout-out, you write about it in the second article. Hence, the case study!
It's sort of similar to what you have been doing with Amanda Palmer and Trent Reznor, but much more personal and grassroots and sort of a hands-on way for both you and the potential subject to truly see how CwF+RtB can work. I am not sure what a fair price would be for the feature...I would assume somewhere in the $250-$500 range. Even though I am a mostly broke musician, I would definitely shell out that much! I think a lot of other people would too. It would just be too cool not to. :)
CwF+RtB by Gene Cavanaugh
Saturday, August 15th, 2009 @ 10:50AM
After giving this some thought, I think I see (IMO) a fundamental problem in the presentation of the problem. "Connect with Fans" gives the impression of "artists" from high on Mount Olympus connecting with "those little people". I am aware that is the feeling many in the industry have, but to me it Of course, I am unimpressed by things like "Idle American" (or is that American Idol?) and similar "icons". I like music, and some movies, but even though "artists" make more than what I consider to be important people (engineers are an example); to me, these are people with a job, and if I feel they are friends, and I like what they have to sell, I will buy; but I prefer buying from friends, not Gods.
Physical badge by Philip G
Monday, August 17th, 2009 @ 3:09PM
Not really suggested, completely, but one minor piece you could add is giving away a physical "Techdirt Insider" badge (think Boy/Girl-scouts) with the purchase of a higher level teir (say starting with the Club teirs). It's unique -- I don't know of any site that gives away, let alone sells, badges these days.
I don't see any ball caps in the deal, that's something else - shades, pants (gotta have pants!). Add-in some boxers and you'll be set! ha.
Subscription to some publications? I'm not a news guy, or anything near it, so this may be a bit out there. But I'm sure there are some, concidered good, publications that would provide some additonal insights to the market.