Hot Tip: Tap Customers for Money
Company: Fawcette Technical Publications
Founded: by James E. Fawcette in 1991
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
Business: Publishes electronic and print materials
Start-Up Capital: $0
A publications specialist for years, Jim Fawcette had wearied of wrestling with other people's problems and elected to launch a magazine himself. His plan was to attract a readership of software programmers by teaching them how to write Windows applications for the burgeoning third-party market, and then to tap that subscription base and the advertisers it drew for expansion into higher-margin arenas, such as conferences. Among the first to sign on for ad space was, predictably, Microsoft Corp. After that, however, up-front cash support dropped off to nothing. So Fawcette contacted potential advertisers and, rather than delivering a sales pitch, solicited their participation in planning and designing the product itself. "To create this market and make you guys successful," he asked, "what do we have to do?" The potential advertisers he aimed at "were small companies working out of their basements, like myself, so they understood. They wouldn't be buying ads in a magazine, they'd be buying a market we'd developed together." Fawcette acknowledges that "their advertising support for a magazine that didn't even have a circulation was critical in getting my company off the ground."
This article was adapted from material that first appeared in Inc. magazine in August 1997.