BoSacks: No B.S.: The Bleeding Edge
We can try Chris Anderson's now famous freemium suggestion and use the original plans of King Gillette to give the public something for nothing and then try to up-sell the heck out of everything else. I think in some cases and for some industries this is an excellent plan and could work out very well.
On the other hand I deem it hard to impossible for print products to be profitable with that as a business model. The loss leader of printing, distributing and up-selling is complicated and fraught with too many unprofitable dead ends.
But what if we didn't use the old style of marketing like King Gillette and instead ramped up our products and used the modern razor theory of selling the public something that is 17 times more expensive than what they used to buy, for perceived gains in the everyday experience of reading extremely valuable, maybe priceless, content?
Readers of free content don't have any skin or investment in the game and can come and go as they please without personal loss, while a reader that has paid dearly for the product will cherish each word and the experiences that they deliver.
If printed magazines are going to have a future, it will be as a luxury item and will not be considered a luxury item till the public pays for more than its current perceived value. Just like the razor blades I buy now at 17 times the old price, I have been up-sold and charged for a better experience.
Magazines have to do two things as we move into the luxury product line business. The first is to make sure that our edit is considered indispensable and, as such, more valuable to our readers than ever before. And second, we have to pitch to the public a new value proposition on our industry's products—that they are more than worth every penny of the additional costs.