Posts Tagged ‘new media’

Our Interview with New Media Marketing Innovator, Author and Restaurant Owner, Justin Levy

September 1, 2009

justin-lcp-gradsmFor part four in our series of “451 Heat 1-on1’s,” we spoke with the General Manager of New Media Marketing Labs, Justin Levy. Justin, based in Boston, helps businesses understand the potential of new media marketing, including how to use social media tools like blogs and community platforms to listen to clients and drive business revenue. He is the author of a forthcoming book, “Facebook Marketing: Designing Your Next Marketing Campaign,” and the Partner/General Manager of Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse.

To read more about Justin’s experience using social media to the benefit of his restaurant business, his new book, and his experiences working with Chris Brogan and New Media Marketing Labs, scroll on.

What first compelled you to engrain yourself in the world of new media marketing? Did you immediately recognize the potential that these tools could have for your restaurant business?

I have always used these tools as they continued to evolve. It first started out with forums, user groups, chat rooms, IRC and IM. Over the years it evolved into social networks such as MySpace and Facebook. Of course, the number of social networks have continued to grow and now there are a whole host of networks which make up the tools and core of new media marketing.

As it relates to the restaurant. I began experimenting with these tools because they were free and we needed to find ways to extend our brand. Our issue was never a quality of food or atmosphere inside of the restaurant. But, if no one is coming in and buying your stuff, then all of that other hard work doesn’t matter much. We began using new media marketing as a way to grow our brand, build community and leverage that community to spread the word about our restaurant.

Tell us about New Media Marketing Labs and what sort of brainstorming led to the creation of the popular events, Inbound Marketing Summit and Bootcamps?

New Marketing Labs is a social media agency that was founded by Chris Brogan. We opened at the beginning of 2009. At New Marketing Labs, our team works with medium and large businesses to help them use these tools to move needles that are important to them. We do this by helping them to develop a strategic plan with clear deliverables backed by a strong analytics dashboard. We do everything from strategic development to blogger outreach to manning listening and monitoring stations and a host of other activities related to using social tools to fulfill business needs.

Our Inbound Marketing Summit event is a 2 day conference that was formerly the New Marketing Summit. The New Marketing Summit has been around for approximately 3 years and was run by our parent company, CrossTech Media. When we started New Marketing Labs, we acquired the Inbound Marketing Summit from HubSpot and adopted the name. The Inbound Marketing Summit brings together some of the top thought leaders, marketers, brands, and agencies in the industry to discuss using these tools to take strategy and turn it into action. For 2009 we brought the Summit to 3 cities: San Francisco, Dallas and Boston on October 7th and 8th.

The Inbound Marketing Bootcamps are intensive one-day keyboard level training events. Topics typically include blogging, social networks, social media marketing, listening and monitoring, profile development, reputation management, and how all of this ties into business needs. By the end of 2009 we would’ve held Bootcamps in 5 cities as well as our private Bootcamps we do for brands.

You are currently in the midst of writing what should be a popular book, “Facebook Marketing: Designing Your Next Marketing Campaign.” Even social media savvy individuals and businesses seem to struggle at times to grasp how they should be using Facebook to connect and mobilize fans and prospects around their product or service. Will you address how Facebook should be utilized by B2B marketers to have a more effective reach and engage with potential buyers?

That is exactly the intention of the book. This book is being written for businesses and will, hopefully, provide them the concepts, strategy and tactical information needed to bring Facebook into the fold of their marketing plans. The book will provide a basic overview of features, deep dives into some of the tools that are important for businesses to understand, a review of some of those brands that are considered the “best in class” through their use of Facebook, and how to build a marketing plan that has Facebook as a main component of it.

Every social media marketer seems to have a slogan, or a concept, that they espouse when describing how best to use these tools for business (i.e. “listen to engage’, etc). What is your go-to?

While I have a lot of ways that I tend to explain how I believe these tools should be used by businesses, I tend to return to topics surrounding how these tools allow business to become humanized. Also, that we tend to want to do business with friends. By showing the human side of your business, it allows you to develop these personal relationships with your customers. In turn, they become fans of your business, product, or service and carry forward the message.

I also think that listening and monitoring is the most important thing that any business can do, especially when they’re just starting out. Conversations are taking place all around their brand, products, services, executives, competition and industry.  It’s up to them if they’re going to be part of that conversation.

What have you found to be the most useful social media tools for marketing your restaurant? Why do you think this is the case?

The most successful tools for our restaurant have been our listening and monitoring station, blog, video blog, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and Flickr. Each of these tools allow us to have two-way conversations with our customers and fans. They also allow people to connect with us on a more personal level and get to see some of what goes on behind-the-scenes at a steakhouse. Tools like Yelp allow us a mechanism for feedback about what our customers like and don’t like.

What kinds of advice do you give to people who are just beginning to get involved with social media?

Start reading as much as possible. Subscribe to blogs that you find valuable and start following those people who you learn from on networks such as Twitter. Also, don’t think you need to start everything at once. You should lay back for a minute and observe everything that is going on and then set a plan on how you want to engage. If you don’t have a clear plan of how you intend to use these tools and what your measures of success are going to be, it will be hard to determine if you’re using the right tools in the proper manner.

Chris Brogan is obviously a very popular figure on the social media web. Can you tell us what the most important thing is that you’ve learned from Chris?

I’m constantly learning from Chris. I’m extremely fortunate to get to work every day with someone that I consider a mentor and a friend. Probably the single most important skill that I continue to learn from Chris is how to build community with trust at its core. In everything that Chris does, one of the reasons he’s able to be so successful is due to how hard he has worked to build and nurture his community. He gives everything he has to his community.
For more information about Justin Levy, visit his blog.

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Marketing to a World with a Short Attention Span

July 10, 2009

Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital recently wrote an article for Fast Company reporting that people are spending a record amount of time on social networking sites: Twitter and Facebook, etc.

These sites are so attractive of course because they offer streams of brief information updates. Because these “pipelines” of brief status updates enable us to consume information quickly, many people are neglecting other news outlets. Traditional news websites present well-researched, quality information in well-thought-out formats, but, this sort of information takes longer to process than the quick snippets available on social networking sites.

People’s desire for ever-speedier information and communication is further evidenced by the demise of voice mail. Boston Globe correspondent Beth Teitell wrote an article about how people overwhelmingly prefer text messages to voice mail because they “can’t stand the endless prompts just to hear a longwinded – and often pointless – message.” With impatience for voice mail increasing, a market for services that transcribe your voice mails to text has erupted.

With the reach of online ads on mainstream news sites declining due to the decrease in website traffic, marketers are having to adjust their promotional strategies.

But, these streams of constantly updating information are posing quite a challenge to marketers. How can they break through these streams and reach their target audiences in real-time?

To make their messages stand out, some marketers are posting messages frequently, thereby increasing their visibility. However, these frequent status updates often come across as spamming (a big social media “no-no”). Other marketers are fairing better, by building a presence on all key social networks and integrating information across the different platforms. They’re using social media to build relationships with their current and prospective customers. They’re listening to them, engaging them in conversation, and making them feel as though they belong to their “brand tribe.” And, of course, they’re empowering them to be ambassadors of their brand.

It’s a point that we continue to hammer home, but it’s an important one. New communications outlets require new communication strategies.

Facebook Vanity URLs

June 10, 2009

Since its inception, Facebook has linked to user profiles through randomly assigned numbers in the URL (e.g., “http://facebook.com…id=592952074/”). While effective, the method has not allowed users to easily share links to their profiles with others. When copying and pasting a link was the main option, users often found themselves sifting through Facebook search results in order to find the right profile.

Finally, this Saturday, June 13th, at 12:01 A.M., this will all change. Facebook users will have the opportunity to choose usernames in order to create unique vanity URLs, making profile sharing easier than ever.

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One minute after midnight, the site will invite its 200 million users to either choose from a list of suggestions (all of which are a combination of a first and last name), or to create an original name. Social media addicts and those with common names will need to be diligent as usernames will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once facebook.com/jsmith has been claimed, all other J. Smiths hoping for that URL will be out of luck.

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Users will also need to think carefully and strategically about their vanity URL choice, because once applied, they will not be able to alter their selections. In other words, think twice before rushing to grab “xXRockerJamesXx” first.

Facebook not only blogs about the new vanity URLs, but also provides users with a link to a live countdown.

Our Interview with Boston-based Media Maven, C.C. Chapman

June 3, 2009

If you are an active member of the social media community, particularly here in Boston, then you undoubtedly know the name C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman). A Co-Founder and Managing Partner of new media consultancy The Advance Guard, and an avid blogger and podcaster, C.C. specializes in helping brands to better understand the social web and how to leverage the conversational and social nature of new media to build more dynamic and lasting relationships with customers, fans and prospects.

ccRead on to learn why a brand’s customers can also be their best salespeople, how service-selling companies can get started with social media, and why Boston is primed to remain the hub of “inbound marketing” activity.

Q: You’ve formulated a great presentation about passion, specifically how “passion is contagious.” Could you give us a high-level summary of why brands should be leveraging the passion that their fans/customers have for their brand, and how the social web is the perfect place to capitalize on the contagious nature of it?

Think about the last time you bought anything. More then likely you went out online looking to see what people had to say about the products. This might be a quick Google search, or reading reviews on a site like Amazon. Either way, what people have to say about a product or service has a direct effect on purchasing.

We also know that each of us loves certain gadgets, tools and other things that we use on a daily basis. Why wouldn’t a brand want to encourage and empower someone who is passionate about their products to talk, share and expound on their passion in whatever way they want? I think this is something that most brands are completely forgetting about. They get hung up in messaging and the layout of a print ad and completely forget that people are people. They are going to talk about it in the way they want to, and not what someone has written up for a press release.

Q: Could you provide an example of a brand that is doing an excellent job here?

Zappos is really doing great in this lately. They’ve asked people to take pictures of themselves with their products. They did a whole series of videos around people opening up their Zappos box when it arrived to capture their excitement.

Don’t forget Zappos doesn’t actually make anything and yet people love the company and are passionate about purchasing from them. There is a lot to be learned from how they are approaching their customers and why it is working.

Q: How engaged should brands be with their customers online? Should they just create the platform (blog, contest, etc.), and let the users run with it, or should there be a system in place to respond to comments/suggestions?

This really depends on the culture of the company. Some companies just won’t be able to deal with interacting with their customers in the way they should online. That being said, if they can’t, then maybe they shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing because it probably won’t be successful.

To be successful, the brand needs to engage with their customers. Yes, setting up the contest, portal or platform is a big step, but the most passionate people will be excited by having someone from the brand talking with them. They want that contact and personalized approach. They crave it.

Q: Should brands be identifying “brand ambassadors” online and leveraging them to keep it up? For instance, what if a very active account on Twitter (with a host of followers), constantly raves about how they love Starbucks? Could there be a paid relationship?

Sure, there could be a paid relationship there, but that depends on the person, the company, and the deal that is made. But, at the same time in that example if the person already loved Starbucks just think what sending them a $100 gift card and a hand written thank you card would do for them as well. They’d love it!

The idea of finding your biggest fans and then somehow making the relationship with them more formal and beneficial to your company is a great idea. Yes, you have to tread carefully and smartly because this isn’t some actor you are hiring to be a spokesperson. It is different and many companies will approach it in that fashion and blow it. Talk TO the person and figure out what works best for them. They may have some strong ideas on how you can work together, but if you come in with an iron fist it could completely turn them off.

Q: What about a company that offers a service, say a law firm or an investment bank. The passion for these brands may be harder to find and difficult to quantify and broadcast. Do you have suggestions for these types of brands that want to utilize social media for their benefit?

Certainly a lot harder indeed. But, start out small and smart. Begin establishing an online footprint using the various and appropriate platforms so that people can find you. Don’t forget that this is not a quick hit solution, and rather it is something you are going to have to grow over time so it may take a while, but people will start coming to you.

There is no silver bullet solution, but consider setting up a Facebook Page for your service and then doing a few weeks of targeted ads to the towns around you to drive traffic to the page. It is a great cost effective strategy to see if your audience is there while not breaking the bank. The key is to think long term and build a strategy that helps you reach your goals. What works for one company is not going to work for the other.

Q: We like to use the phrase “inbound marketing” to classify the shift we are all noticing in marketing (and advertising and public relations). What’s your go-to terminology?

Honestly, I go back and forth on this because it is changing every day and while a few years ago everyone was saying “new marketing” or “conversational marketing,” I feel neither of those truly capture how things are today. Even “social media” is getting a bit old because the nature of how we do everything online is beginning to play along the social graph and becoming more conversational and social in nature. The last thing I want to do is add any new buzzwords to the world. I’ll let someone else decide what to call it!

Q: Boston, as reported in Scott Kirsner’s piece and has been well evidenced, has become sort of the hub for this industry. Why do you think that is? More importantly, did Stuff at Night miss the boat by not including any of the thought leaders like yourself in their “Players” issue?

There was a Players issue? Guess they must not have promoted that well online since I didn’t see anything about it. *laugh*

I’m a life long New Englander so I think it is very easy. People who live here love to talk to other people, help people out, and come from a variety of backgrounds. With all the colleges we have here, people come from all over the world and never leave. That mix match of people makes for not one set of ideas and I’d argue that it mimics the web in that nature.

People seem to forget that this are has always had a strong tech footprint. Rt-128 may be littered with the shells of a lot of companies, but they are being replaced by the new generation and that is exciting. While I love San Francisco and New York City, you’ll never find me leaving New England. We’ve got something really special going on here.

You can read more from this Boston-based “Media Maven” by visiting his blog at http://www.cc-chapman.com/

B2B Company? You Need an Agency with B2B Experience

May 14, 2009

If you are a marketer for a B2B company and are considering contracting an agency to execute social media marketing initiatives on your behalf, you should look to agencies with expertise in B2B marketing. Most agencies that specialize in social media have a lot of business-to-consumer (B2C) experience. They identify clients’ target markets and use online social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace to boost brand awareness with the goal of turning people into customers, donors, users, members, etc.

But the B2B sales cycle is different from the B2C cycle. It is more complex, and is much longer. To be successful in B2B sales, companies need to connect with prospective clients and develop relationships with them prior to the beginning of the sales cycle to establish baseline awareness and engagement. A competent social media agency recognizes this, and initiates conversations through Twitter or other social sites to introduce individuals to their clients’ services and provides them with insightful and helpful content. Once this engagement is established, the agency will continue to monitor the activities of your prospective clients, and will be able to recognize when the opportunity arises to position your service as the solution to your prospects’ business needs. Only an agency that understands the complexities of a client’s industry and business model, as well as the typical pain points of the client’s prospects, can be effective at managing these communications and generating new business leads.

A superior agency also recognizes that the sales cycle does not end when you close a deal. Good social media agencies understand that social networks can amplify voices, and that a satisfied customer who raves about your product or service on Twitter can increase word-of-mouth brand awareness, and ultimately, generate more sales for you. But on the other hand, a dissatisfied customer can cripple your sales success, so an effective agency understands the importance of staying in touch with your customers after the close of a sale. If a customer tweets about a problem he or she is having with your service or relationship, your agency representative will reach out and ask how he or she can help. Or at the minimum, the agency will direct the customer to the individual capable of solving his or her problem to avoid any further negative discourse.

Based on our experience, successful B2B Social Media Lead Generation Programs are the result of carefully planned and executed strategies that incorporate the above. These programs typically involve tactics such as:

  • Content development (e.g. white papers, webinars, podcasts, etc.)
  • Monitoring online networks frequented by prospective clients
  • Starting and participating in conversations with prospective clients through these same social channels
  • Web site landing page development to capture business leads
  • Customer relationship management (the process of recording interactions with current and prospective clients and using the information to improve customer service)
  • Drip Marketing (distributing several promotional items over a long period of time to maintain contact with current and prospective clients)

A good B2B social media marketing agency will know how to leverage these tactics and social tools to build brand awareness, listen effectively, start and participate in conversations, maintain good relationships, and most importantly generate quality new business leads.

Mass High Tech: Tech heads tackle stress, build leadership on the rugby field

May 12, 2009

One of our very own founding partners, AJ Gerritson, was featured in the most recent issue of Mass High Tech. Journalist Lynette F. Cornell compiled a piece that focuses on how some of the important skill sets that are honed by playing the game of rugby–leadership, team work, mental toughness and dedication–are easily transferable to the corporate boardroom. Take a look at the piece below, and read about how AJ and others have overcome some of their business challenges by channeling their rugby-playing past (and present).

Tech heads tackle stress, build leadership on the rugby field

By Lynette F. Cornell

Special to Mass High Tech

When AJ Gerritson shows up to Monday’s board meeting with a shiner, don’t assume he got whacked in a weekend bar fight. He was just letting off steam with some fellow executives, all of them pounding each other in a fierce game of rugby.

Gerritson, a founding partner at 451 Marketing in Boston, is just one of many C-level people whose nights and weekends involve props, locks and hookers — the strange yet standard terms for various positions in rugby.

“It takes a certain person to play rugby,” said Gerritson.

That person, he said, is team oriented, a necessary quality for the game and one that carries over into being a successful company leader. Networking with other business leaders, he frequently met other current and former rugby players. The connection was always instantaneous and one he has never experienced with any other sport, he said.

Looking to unite other executives passionate about rugby, he recently created the Massachusetts Rugby Executives, a co-ed group of rugby players in various leadership positions.

The manager of the group, Steven Drew, has been playing rugby since he was a freshman at Babson College. He has also played hockey and soccer but says that there is something completely unique about rugby.

“I’ve never seen anything like the camaraderie and true team spirit as I’ve seen in rugby,” said Drew.

Now in his mid-forties, Drew doesn’t play rugby as much as he’d like. Yet, the 26 years he spent playing still influence his skills as a leader, he said. As the managing director of Hollister Inc., a Boston-based staffing agency, he is responsible for leading a team of employees. The importance of teamwork in rugby, he said, has helped him become a better team member.

For Linda Bourque, owner of B&B Realty Inc. in Watertown, rugby influences every aspect of her life, including her career. She said her 14 years of rugby playing have helped make her a better listener, a skill she greatly used while holding various leadership positions at Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox Corp. The sport also shaped her thinking, she said.

“It gives you a different mental attitude, that ‘you can do,’” she said.

When she began playing rugby, few Americans even knew what it was. People who pursued the sport didn’t do it for the notoriety, said Bourque. Rugby demands a high level of commitment to training and personal fitness, a dedication that Bourque said requires self-motivated, self-starting people who are secure in what they do.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” she said.

Those unfamiliar to the sport can expect to see more of it soon. In March 2010 the US Rugby League will launch. Boston is one of six major cities where franchises have been set. Gerritson said he is not worried about the mainstreaming of rugby affecting the special bond he shares with other players.

“At the end of the day a rugby player will always have a special set of qualities that you don’t find in other sports,” said Gerritson. “Because of this fact the bond will always be there whether rugby is mainstream or not.”

How exactly should we be using Twitter?

May 6, 2009

mm_twitter1Quite often we receive this question from individuals that possess varied amounts of online savvy. Some have a solid grasp of how to utilize sites like Facebook and LinkedIn for personal and professional purposes, but they struggle to understand the benefits (and the “point”) of Twitter. Others are just confused about everything that is going on in the world of new media and find Twitter to be the most perplexing.

The fact of the matter is that there is no easy answer to the question. As an individual, you can do whatever you want to do with Twitter. You can follow your favorite celebrities, follow your favorite news site for real-time news updates, or you could just follow a few of your friends in order to communicate with them all within one channel.

But there are plenty of ways to get more out of the time and energy that you devote to Twitter. For the job seeker desperately looking for employment opportunities in a recession, there are hosts of individuals, recruiters and businesses available to follow and add to your network. If you are gainfully employed, you should follow those individuals and organizations that can provide insights that are relevant to you and your industry–journalists, competitors, trade groups, thought leaders, etc.

The key to running a Twitter account for your business differs a bit. As a brand on Twitter, it is important to be even more engaging with users, and also mindful of all of your brand mentions. Every Twitter user out there should be considered as either a customer or a prospect. The opportunities to respond to customer complaints (brand management) or prospect inquiries (lead generation) on Twitter are extraordinary. But bear in mind the importance of maintaining a human feel to the Twitter account. No one on the social web wants to interact with corporate robots so make sure that you develop a personlity for your brand. Focus on posting quality information rather than massive quantities of untargetted SPAM. PC World provides a more extensive examination of how businesses should be using Twitter here.

Are you doing anything differently for yourself or your company on Twitter? Let us hear it.

Non-profits: How Are You Using Social Media to Tell Your Story?

April 13, 2009

section_image_nonprofit2Bloggers, including the crew here at 451 Heat, have discussed at length how and why companies should be utilizing social media tools and social networking sites to their advantage. But it is important to also note that non-profits—charities, community service organizations, preservationists, and causes of all kinds—can also stand to benefit immensely from the tools available on the social web. Non-profits will find that there are a host of tools available that can enable them to express their mission by telling a story and establishing a dialogue with supporters, benefactors, and current and potential donors.

A blog, for instance, is an excellent venue to post testimonials of individuals and organizations that have received support from the non-profit. Blog content can be peppered with photos, interactive videos, background information, additional links, director bios, and other features to enhance the story and keep the conversation dynamic.

And obviously, there are plenty of other ways that non-profits should be using the social web to raise awareness for their cause and story. Idealist.org, one of the most popular online destinations for non-profits, recently ran their thoughts on the importance of managing multiple on-line communities to effectively build an online presence. The crux of their observations revolved around the importance of interacting directly with users to build a following and a conversation, while also making sure to tailor voices for each different social media tool. The site  echoes the importance of making sure that the overall approach is integrative (a blog with event listings, Flickr photos, and YouTube videos for instance).

Simple Google searches will demonstrate how specific non-profits have certainly been quick to recognize the benefits of social media. But there are certainly examples out there that merit more visibility. The Jenzabar Foundation, an organization that supports the service and humanitarian endeavors of students around the globe, is now offering a $3,000 grant specifically for a non-profit that can demonstrate how they have effectively utilized social media strategies and tactics to raise awareness and/or funding for their cause.

So, in light of this post, head over to the blog and submit your campaign for a nomination.

Not actively involved with a non-profit but have an idea for a campaign that could tear the roof off for one? Let them hear that too. Those ideas are also eligible for the grant.

An Online Dilemma, and an Opportunity, for the News

April 8, 2009

An article in today’s New York Times examines the “free-versus paid online content” debate that is currently on the minds of all members of the newspaper and magazine publishing industry. Amidst a decline in their subscriber-base, many publications embraced the internet as a channel to help build their audience and increase revenues. But the recession has forced advertisers to tighten their spending across the board, leaving newspaper executives to grapple with new ways to turn a dollar newspaper1from their online content.

The biggest issue here, is, as the article points out, “How do you get consumers to pay for something they have grown used to getting free?” The reporters draw a parallel between the industry’s current situation and that of the recording industry. Music fans spent years downloading songs illegally for free from sites like Napster and Kazaa, but today, many of these same individuals have reverted back to paying for their music through iTunes. The difference is, of course, these individuals switched their habits because of the nascent fear of the possibility of legal action against them.

None of those fears exist here. With a few exceptions, internet users have come to expect to read their papers for free on-line with no questions asked. It won’t be easy to change those habits. As the article states, “Getting customers to pay is easier if the product is somehow better — or perceived as being better — than what they had received free.”

So what can publications do to make their content worth an investment from their readers? To paraphrase what Mark Mulligan, vice president of Forrester Research, says in the piece, it may be all about “chasing niches.” Finding what certain readers need on a daily basis, targeting them separately, and charging them for it.

It sounds a bit like the industry could use some more help from an inbound marketing campaign and other new media tools. Newspapers and magazines need to better capture their reader’s information; what they are reading, what sections they check most frequently, what journalists they read religiously. As some publications already do, requiring the readers to input their contact information into a free online form before reading certain content is a good way to start (it may be necessary to make sure this content is downloadable for tracking purposes). The reader won’t be forced to pay a fee, but will give up his/her e-mail address, providing the publication with a better sense of the content that they find necessary to have access to. Over time the publication will have a network of data on all of their most frequent visitors and will be able to engage certain individuals with exclusive, relevant and targeted offerings (podcasts, reporter chats, blogs, invitations to roundtables)—for a fee.

There is more to it here that should be considered. RSS feeds, text alerts, and other features can be tailored, or utilize existing content, and offered exclusively to certainly readers. Think of a way to aggregate all content for someone’s favorite sports reporter (their articles, blogs, Twitter feeds, etc) and package that offering to your “premium” subscribers. The key is for the industry to leverage the web to capture a better understanding of their audience to discover what exactly it is that they won’t be able to live without.