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When Customers Won't Pay

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What do you do when customers love your content but won't pay for it? It’s time to consider advertising. 

Frederic Filloux. editor of the Monday Note, writes, "Publishers can’t have both ways; people paying for content should be spared advertising, period."

(And if they're not paying...)

When listeners love your podcast (or video show or social media channel) but won't pay for it, it’s time to embrace the advertising model. Basically, choose from two revenue models: get paid by your listeners or get paid for access to your listeners.

Readers and listeners get access to your free content and advertisers get access to your fans. It’s a win-win. No matter what many choose to believe, in the advertising model, advertisers are the customers; readers and listeners and viewers become the product.

I am disappointed to hear podcasters say they are uncomfortable endorsing advertiser products, even for products they actually use and love.

I feel certain that Josh and Chuck on “Stuff You Should Know” use the products they endorse; they wear MeUndies and eat stuff from Blue Apron. And Hrishi Hirway of "The West Wing Weekly" uses (and endorses) SquareSpace for the podcast blog. 

If these folks don’t actually recommend these products, then they shouldn’t produce ads for those companies—and certainly shouldn’t endorse them.

So if that’s your business model, you shouldn’t scorn the advertisers. They’re the ones paying your bills.

After all, advertisers don’t spread money around to be nice guys. Podcasters have built up a listener base that is large enough and focused enough that advertisers will pay to reach them.

Do you remember the Mean Joe Greene advertisement from years ago?

People loved it! I’m sure it got awards for the agency. And many still remember the ad, even though it ran way back in 1979! But according to Sergio Zyman, the former marketing czar at Coca-Cola, the ad didn’t increase revenue—so he quickly canceled the popular ad.

When determining your business model, consider who will use the product and who will pay for it. You must meet the needs of both to have a successful product business.

And scorning your customers can never be part of a good business plan.

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