Famous Last Words: Make an Offer, Not a Threat
One of the great circulation letters of all time was the late Ed McLean's 15-year control for Newsweek. The lede:
If the list upon which I found your name is any indication, this is not the first—nor will it be the last—subscription letter you receive.
Quite frankly, your education and income set you apart from the general population and make you a highly-rated prospect for everything from magazines to mutual funds.
Here was the first warning shot to consumers about "Big Data," and the marketing spooks who know all about you.
McLean's genius was his use of flattery. He told readers they were special and because they were an elite group, they were entitled to great special offers.
By 2007, the only sound coming out of Newsweek was a death rattle. A half-million subscribers were cut from the rate base; in 2008, more than 100 staffers were axed; and, in 2012, editor Tina Brown folded the print edition and announced the future was digital.
Whereupon, Newsweek totally dropped off of my radar screen.
'Newsweek's' Sad-Sack Return
I prowl the Internet every morning for news and ideas. My first stop: the lively Huffington Post—my online wiring diagram to follow the day's top stories.
On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court was scheduled for a historic ruling on the rights of women to receive contraception insurance. The HuffPost headline: "Hobby Lobby: Liberals Worried."
I clicked on the headline and was immediately taken to a pitch for the digital edition of Newsweek. The Hobby Lobby ruling was the lede story, as you can see at right.
Now look at the red arrow in the image at the right. It points to the following threat: "You have reached the limit of 5 free articles a month."