We Tried To Sell This Idea To The New York Times

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I was a subscriber to the print edition of the New York Times.

Why, you ask?

Because, it’s the best overall reporting in the world. Add The Economist, Harper’s, New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal. And maybe Esquire for some smart sass, Outside for the quick read, and you’re a well-rounded “content consumer”.

I stopped subscribing because I could get what I needed online. Definitely a different user experience, but in some ways the content was commoditized and the print edition wasn’t a necessity. Unlike a lot of local Alternative Weeklies’ content, that’s hyper local, and only available in one spot.

Side note: I read nyt.com every single day. Every. Day.

The New York Times sends me direct mail to renew my print subscription (Okay, to be fair, it includes digital subs, too).

The problem?

Its presentation shares none of the smart, keen, and robust aspects of its content operation. It looks dated. It looks old. It says, “Welcome to 1987”, and “recycle me right now”.

The New York Times digital media audit was leaked a year ago and it shows they’re battling with the same issues every other legacy-to-digital operation is facing. There’s no clear answer. There will be casualties in the process. You can’t deny they’re making the right moves.

So, given that reader acquisition is so tough, why isn’t this aspect of their business full throttle? Why aren’t they making it compelling?

Have you seen their original video content? It’s fabulous. Take a look at their direct mail. Ugh.

The idea: Make it look beautiful. Make a statement. Make it a fit for the brand.

We wanted to take on this challenge — Redesign their direct mail marketing. Connect their messaging more closely to their undeniable brand. And, of course, grow their audience.

Even Tech companies use direct mail. Check out what Google sends you.

We did get the chance, a conversation. It was short, but still exciting.

In reality, it’s okay if we’re not a fit. It’s okay to not like us. The disappointment is a lack of interest in the idea itself. It’s a central theme in the future of that business. David Carr indicates 50% of NYT’s revenue comes from subscribers (Note: There’s a lot to unpack on that one).

Maybe it’s a mindset? Maybe it’s an aspect of the large machine that they are? Maybe they have data that shows their current model is the best fit (though, we would like to see that report).

Alright, New York Times. Let’s make 2015 a great one.

Oh, and we’re still game if you are.


Good Soil Agency

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