Wednesday, December 28, 2005


I spend hours scouring the Internet some days. Nope. Not for free porn, however noble a pursuit that may be, but for broadcast journalism courses at this fine nation's colleges universities.

Because I need the lesson? Ha! Ha! You're a regular Seinfeld, you are. But no. I'm looking for places to market a DVD (A Reporter's Guide to the Art of Television Storytelling) I produced this past summer.

I look through a school's web pages, which in some cases requires quite the detective work, to find courses whose students can benefit from the DVD and the professors who teach them. I e-mail the prof, or the department chair, and offer to send a demo copy.

Technically, I suppose I'm spamming. Except I'm not sending random bulk e-mails. And the product offered is actually something useful. Even better for the targets, I'm not asking them to buy anything, just to require (or at least recommend) that their students buy it. So I suppose I'm not spamming after all.

How do I know I have a useful product besides the fact that if I made it it must be good? Because the first two college professors I asked to review it both adopted it into their course materials. And because all of the actual working professionals I asked to review it thought it was great too. Some even said they learned from it themselves.

Praise doesn't get any better than that.

So why didn't I start my e-mail campaign sooner? Because I know television storytelling a lot better than I know marketing, that's why. I should be happy the thought struck me at all.

I've sent out about 80 e-mails so far -- right during the holiday break when no one's in school to read them -- and I've still gotten more than a dozen requests for copies of the DVD. I've been collecting names and e-mail addresses for more contacts and will wait until after the new year to pitch to them. If the people I've already e-mailed come back next semester and flood me with replies, I don't want to run out of DVDs to send, especially considering I'm also filling some orders for paying customers.

I've got to set up a method for taking orders over the Internet. PayPal scares me. It's too much like a bank without any of the regulatory oversight. And I've read some horror stories. So I'm looking for alternatives. One recommendation I got was for It's got a low set-up fee and low commissions. If you know anything about this stuff and have ideas to pass along, please do!

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