Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why are magazines such liars?
Because it works

Readers, such as the ones who routinely mail back business reply cards and postage paid forms blank to "get even", often wonder why magazines insist on sending them. And the answer is invariably that blow-in cards and direct mail work, that's why.

In a post on his blog, Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson asks the question why magazine circulation departments are such liars.
I love magazines, but the way we treat our readers is infuriating. I've already explained the perverse economic incentives that result in us carpet bombing the world with "blow-in" subscription cards. Now I want to highlight the subscription offers that magazines send through the mail. They're full of lies.
Among the lies routinely found on subscription solicitations, he says, are:
* there is no such thing as a "special courtesy rate"
* "guaranteed savings" is a meaningless phrase (and indeed you can often find magazine subscriptions cheaper through an agent--check eBay--or a credit card loyalty program)
* it makes no difference if you reply by the "reply by" date
* "statement of benefits itemization" are just empty words meant to invoke an invoice
* all those "free" or "included" things are just the regular content that's in the mag for everyone.
Why do magazine circulation departments treat people like idiots? Well, sadly you know the answer to that one, too: because it works. Is the sort of reader who responds to this kind of insultingly dumb deceit really the target audience for this magazine?
If you want to find an entertaining series of rants, look at the lonnnnggggg list of comments to this posting, some of which come from circulators, others from aggrieved Wired subscribers who talk about their outrage that the magazine uses a collection agency for subs!

[Thanks for passing this on, Jessica.]

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Blogger Unknown said...

It's time to find a more truthful way to do business if we want to stay in business. I don't believe you can lie to your customers forever. Sooner or later these "standard" tactics will erode our customer's trust.

10:55 pm  

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