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 Post subject: Proposal to MPC and FN for online MPC Store
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 9:57 am 
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Proposal to MPC and FN for online MPC Store

Introduction

Some of the readers of the magazine Maximum PC (MPC) owned by Future Network USA, a division of Future Network PLC (FN), have expressed the desire for an expanded MPC product and feature line. Repeated communication and discussion by MPC readers through Delphi Forum’s Commport (The Commport) and the MPC forum attest to the significant interest in an MPC feature/product expansion. Unlike many other hardcopy magazines, many of MPC’s readers are “fans” and are proud to be readers of the magazine. The lack of support for this “fandom” is a missed marketing and customer retention opportunity.

The purpose of this document is to explore possible extra-print options for MPC to expand into. The objectives of this proposal are limited to extra-print options in an effort to “expand” MPC rather than change it. Toward this goal, a number of things are discussed:

    • The types of product MPC readers have suggested or have expressed a desire for.
    • Possible methods of delivery.
    • Addressing piracy concerns.
    • Addressing funding concerns.
Discussion

Maximum PC (MPC) is a magazine with a large following. Yearly circulation reaches approximately four million copies. The MPC target market is the computer hobbyist, enthusiast, and consumer. Magazines of this class often develop a devoted following or “fandom”. Forum members indicate this devotion in posts. In fact, the very existence of two well populated MPC related forums is an indication of this "fandom".

Like any product that develops such a following, merchandising becomes a viable and customer desirable aspect of the product. Often large parent companies are blinded to the real value of such endeavors because the profit margins are small in comparison to the parent product – in this case a hardcopy magazine. What the parent company may fail to see is the marketing and branding potential of such efforts. Further, publicly shared companies may fail to see the usefulness due to a business and shareholder taboo called “defocusing” in this proposal. Defocusing occurs when a company strays from its proven objectives. An example would be a car company developing and investing in a program to build motorcycles. Such programs often make shareholders “nervous” as they can have a tendency to distract the company from its proven objectives and mission. A company may view merchandizing in this “defocusing” light as a distraction and one of small profit potential. However, merchandizing can be a form of promotion and support for the parent product and increase profits through more parent product sales rather than large profit from the merchandise itself.

Merchandizing allows for product advertisement with much, if not all, of the expense transferred to the devoted consumer. The consumer enjoys aligning themselves with a product they believe in and continues to invest in the product both financially and, in the case of the “fan”, in a less tangible but still important emotional role. This is a form of branding.

Branding occurs when a consumer has decided that they trust a product and it is more useful to them than a similar product. Often this perception of usefulness is not based on a tangible rational, but one of familiarity, trust, and camaraderie. Fostering these aspects is important and, in the case of a product with a “fan” following, developing camaraderie is key. Merchandizing and participation are useful tools in developing a sense of “belongingness” to a product. While MPC has made efforts to foster reader participation in the form of online forums, merchandizing seems lacking and should be addressed.

Products

A number of products have been suggested by readers via the online MPC affiliated forums. They include “fan” type products as well as products designed to make the MPC experience a better one. The list that follows should not be considered all inclusive.
    • MPC coffee mugs
    • MPC adhesive PC case badges and stickers.
    • MPC t-shirts and other clothing apparel (hats, sweatshirts etc…).
    • MPC Annual binders.
    • Posters covering various reference subjects.
    • CD racks (with the MPC logo, 12 CDs but can attach to each other as a collection expands)
    • MPC Memorabilia (i.e. old radio show)
    • Back issues in hardcopy format available up to date.
    • Back issues or annuals in DVD / PDF form available by year with a black out period (explained below)
    • Patches (preferably humorous)
    • Pens
    • Wallets
    • Key chains
    • MPC branded computer tools
    • MPC exclusive software applets (such as the MPC screen saver)
    • MPC Books and desk references (already being published)

Delivery Methods

Readers have suggested an MPC online store as a method of delivery for products. Additional methods can include the magazine its self for products that can be incorporated (like stickers). It is important to note that not all PC savvy persons trust the use of a credit card online and alternative avenues such a certified check and money order should be available. The online store should be advertised both in the magazine and at the MPC website.

Piracy Concerns

Anytime an electronic medium is employed, piracy becomes a concern. In the above product suggestions an electronic version of back issues was suggested. This is important to some readers for reasons of storage. A DVD can hold twelve issues including CD content and take up very little space. To combat piracy, the DVD’s should be issued with a six to twelve month lag. Further, it may be possible to archive very old issues and sell them - including Boot Magazine. Because of molding expenses in a short run production, it may be an advantage to burn DVD’s in house.

Funding

While initial funding is required, care should be taken in introducing products in order of highest popularity and profit level. The MPC store should be self sustaining using its own profits to expand itself whenever possible (positive feedback loop). Additional funding may come from marketing budgets when needed. However, the MPC store should be considered a marketing tool and not a profit tool in itself. The goal should be to establish a self sustaining marketing device with few input needs in both man hours and direct funding. A third party for actual operation should be considered.

Manta

(I figured - well, why not? If you actually read down this far, tell me :) )


Last edited by MantaBase on Sun Sep 26, 2004 11:20 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 11:08 am 
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Oh man - I am laughin at myself :D

Manta


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 4:27 pm 
Smithfield*
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well written, but how many suits are listenin to a comp. geek on a forum for one of their many mags? i dunno but i'd sure enjoy wearing some MPC t-shirts. i especially like the idea of having annual dvd's and MPC computer tools.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 4:33 pm 
Smithfield
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gramaton cleric wrote:
well written, but how many suits are listenin to a comp. geek on a forum for one of their many mags? i dunno but i'd sure enjoy wearing some MPC t-shirts. i especially like the idea of having annual dvd's and MPC computer tools.


MPC comp tools - definetly
MPC back issues on DVD - OH HELL YEA!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 4:43 pm 
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Great job manta. If this idea were to come true i would be wearing mpc head to toe.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 5:11 pm 
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gramaton cleric wrote:
well written, but how many suits are listenin to a comp. geek on a forum for one of their many mags? i dunno but i'd sure enjoy wearing some MPC t-shirts. i especially like the idea of having annual dvd's and MPC computer tools.


Heheh - maybe not.

I just had an extra 1/2 hour.

If they don't listen that is fine :)

I'm not a computer geek really. I am an image analyist/EMP tech. and product/PR/technical improvement consultant. But alas, I am in school studing Martian surface processes using remotely sensed data (mainly MGS/MOC).

My posts have become long winded because I am avoiding editing my thesis :)

If FN doesn't listen thats fine - CPU's pubber might :)

Manta


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 5:19 pm 
Willamette
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Thanks for the post. I like your ideas. We already are expanding our line of merchandise with the extra specials and now books, but we haven't really gotten into the shirts and mugs and all that. I"ll definitely pass your ideas along though, and take full credit for them :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 6:52 pm 
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You could always make your own or go through Cafepress to have them made up and they'd be one of a kind. You couldn't sell them of course but you could have one.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 11:42 pm 
Little Foot
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Nice job Manta. Well said. I know it is well written for business when my head starts to spin from the "market speek."


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 12:10 am 
Willamette
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If anyone could lead me to a searchable electronic archive of MPC issues of the past i would appreciate it. I have almost all my issues since 1998 but going back to find something i though was cool....you know....is kinda impossible to find without some kind of index.

BTW i like the ideas.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 4:53 am 
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joshnorem wrote:
I"ll definitely pass your ideas along though, and take full credit for them :P



Heheh - of course. Should it be any other way?

:)

Manta


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 12:50 pm 
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MPC comp tools! Wow...never thought of that! A little plastic tacklebox containing assorted little tools just to work on my PC!? YES! What I run into with my own tools is that I also build motorcycles and work on Jeeps with them, so it's not rare to have them coated with a layer of oil.

And imagine the joy in pulling out my official MPC #2 phillips with a compass in the stock.

Ummmm...I may have done something illegally a year ago at work. We had corperate logo'd items, but none really seemed to reflect what our division did, so I struck up a deal with a place called Branders to make our own little coffee cups, Polos, keychains, etc...Well, to try them out I may, or may not have used the MPC logo for the examples, as using our corporate logo would have been really really bad. If the boss didn't go for them, well, at least I might have a couple MPC items to take home. They might have turned out really cool if I had done such a thing.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 5:28 am 
Smithfield
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Some good thoughts here, but I'd want MPC to move very carefully. I've seen any number of good computer user mags go down the drain over the years, usually because they expanded beyond their scope. I don't want to see MPC go the same way.

Maybe license the right to make MPC mugs/t-shirts/whatever. They make a few bucks to help keep the mag going with less if any financial risk.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 6:55 am 
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whitecree wrote:
Some good thoughts here, but I'd want MPC to move very carefully. I've seen any number of good computer user mags go down the drain over the years, usually because they expanded beyond their scope. I don't want to see MPC go the same way.

Maybe license the right to make MPC mugs/t-shirts/whatever. They make a few bucks to help keep the mag going with less if any financial risk.


Well, pretending that the proposal is real for a moment, I think the last paragraph lays that out.

The nice thing about merchandise is that if it fails to sell, you are only out the initial investment. It doesn't continue draw on you. (and you have a kewl box of door prizes).

Manta


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2004 7:38 am 
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:oops: Sometimes I forget to switch on the humor circuit.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 6:13 pm 
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whitecree wrote:
Some good thoughts here, but I'd want MPC to move very carefully. I've seen any number of good computer user mags go down the drain over the years, usually because they expanded beyond their scope. I don't want to see MPC go the same way.

Maybe license the right to make MPC mugs/t-shirts/whatever. They make a few bucks to help keep the mag going with less if any financial risk.


MPC Readers are probly more layle than any other computer magizine readers though. I think their thiss stuff would do very well.


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