Wednesday, March 01, 2006

msb-0006 What's the Plan Stan?

DasGimp aka Walt gave me some feedback. [In my best Fozzie Bear voice: "Yeah!!"]

Thanks for the email.

I have a request and its the same this week as last week.

Could you get yourselves on my Frapper map?

Its just down the left hand side of the page.


Just above that, you can Subscribe with iTunes.


Just above that, you can Email Me.


Just above that, you can fill out my simple little Audience survey.


And some comments left on the episode you liked, or didn't like, would help me guide my future episodes to reflect what you want.


Here is a 'prize question' for my listeners out there. (Like, who else could possibly answer?)

The winner will get a gift certificate for $50 bucks worth of iTunes.

I've been Googling since yesterday (you didn't think I was going to make it easy, did you?) and I can't find out the answer to a simple little question:

"Who designed the "'broken M, broken S' logo" for the MS Society?"

Maybe it was just a Canadian thing, I don't really recall seeing it in the 'States, they seem to favor a rather florid cartouche here, but it was the most evocative one and descriptive of the effects and of the disease.

I think it was based on Helvetica bold, or some other sans-serif typeface, with a stripe of the upper right ligature of the M and the middle of the S blocked out (or that's how I replicated it in the '80s.)

Computer typography has moved on quite a bit since I started and I no longer have neither the typeface nor the tools I used to replicate it. Actually, I doubt it would still work even if I had it; I'd used PostScript 1; they're up to PostScript 3 I think. Its been a while since I followed it.

That's why I want to get a new version of it to use in the blog, the media and to give my late cat a chance to finally get some rest on the iTunes site.

Even a GIF or two of the 'MS' would probably do but I'd really love it if it was an entire typeface with the capitals 'blocked out.'

Remember, I need the typeface. Just telling me "Hermann Zapf" or "Milton Glazer" doesn't cut it. I need an email address where he/she or their studio can be reached.

Think on it.

$50 bucks at the iTunes Music Store, my eternal gratitude and a chance to beam proudly and point at it whenever you see the logo.

Got to be worth something, even if its only $50 bucks.


On with the show.

I did some research,
crunched some numbers, checked my finances and I came to a conclusion.

I needed a business plan, complete with spread sheets, market stats, operational plans, the works (I must say that I found a template to follow at

Here now is the exerpted management précis:

1. Executive Summary

Podcasting, the iTunes Music Store, RSS feeds, MP3s, show subscription statistics, individual show circulation statistics and content related to multiple sclerosis (MS) are at the heart of modern targeted advertising and at the heart of my business.

These things are the demystifying factors which enable people with MS as well as people who care about people with MS and people who care for people with MS, to easily and simply access the media and to access content.

A couple of clicks and these people are listening to, and possibly viewing, the MSB Podcasts, complete with ads focused on the MS market needs.

Product, customers and audience.

My product will be a podshow which can feature ads focused on people who have MS, people who care about people who have MS, or people who care for people who have MS, in addition to content on and about MS, and more.

This kind of focused advertising has never been possible before with the mass media. The expected rate of returns was simply to low to consider advertising, yet the products and services were needed by this audience.

My customers will be the pharmacological houses and the service providers who make products or provide services for people with MS, a market that has to date been neglected.

My audience will be people who have MS, people who care about people who have MS, or people who care for people who have MS.

This gives me wide latitude as to the actual show content which will span the gamut of news, view, reviews, interviews, special events and many other other things related to multiple sclerosis.


I am the sole owner of this show and of its related websites. I am the sole owner of the studio and mobile podcast production, and of the web production equipment, studio and ancillary facilities.

Future prospects for podcasting:

The future holds great promise for this kind of media.

It will take its place along side specialized print publications and provide new venues for soliciting comments and content that the print media could not and would not solicit for publication.

Company websites do not mention competition. Its not good business. But podcasts can.

Company websites do not mention other websites that are ancillary. Its not good business. But podcasts can.

Newsletters are static, limited in their print-budget (the mix of content, and of the kinds of content, to advertising,) of limited duration and accessibility and, speaking from personal experience as I produced a newsletter for the Ottawa chapter of the MS society, can't respond to the subscribers and can't really entertain while disseminating information.

Podcasts can act as aggregators and disseminators of a whole range of information from specifics treatments to MS Society gatherings anywhere in the world, and can do so with a mix of entertainment needed by the audience.

They are time-shifted, location-shifted, persistent distribution of show content. Think of them as an audio or video Tivo on steroids, for a specific marketplace.

Reason for this business plan:

I am not applying for financing, a loan of for financial assistance of any form at the current stage of the evolution of the podcast.

If I would be applying for a loan, I would state clearly how much I wanted, precisely how I was going to use it to update my facilities and/or equipment, to to hire any staff, and precisely how any money provided would used to make my business more profitable, thereby ensuring repayment.

At the moment, no such funding is required.


Sounds great doesn't it?

Its not going to make me a rich man.

I'd have to capture the entire market.

According to the MS Society there are 250,000 people with MS in North America, there are about 80 makers of MS products, at $50/M impressions, my schedule permits 52 shows/year, giving 250k*80*$50/k*52 = $52,000,000/year in advertising revenue; which would be utterly impossible with each show consisting of at least 40 minutes of ads and no content whatsoever. It wouldn't be worth listening to twice and I couldn't see doing so even once.

Actually, given the ratio of people with MS to the general population, abouty 1,200 to 1 (0.0083% of the population) and the number of iPods sold (according to MacWorld thet is about 42,000,000,000 as of this writing) ceteriparibus I can estimate that about 3,500 of them have or will develop MS.

Fortunately for my business plan, there are a lot more copies of iTunes and people who can access the iTunes Music Store in circulation and every PC sold can play MP3s so market size is not an issue. The number of MP3 playing PCs is in the hundreds of millions and their geographic distribution is almost total.

If I'm lucky, I might get 5% of the market (12,500), 10% of the advertisers (8) and charge half the going rate ($25/k impressions) for 52 shows/year. ($130,000)

A nice chunk of change from which I can then deduct all of my expenses for printing, advertising, studio equipment, accounting fees and auditing fees, LibSyn fees, Kiptronic fees, mobile recording equipment, transportation and travel expenses, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, pay a chunk to the gummint and then I can mete myself whatever's left.

Its chump change. Not worth the big firms even crossing the street to pick it up off the sidewalk.

It quite frankly isn't worth any competition either.

The market is too small to support more than me. Which is why I am willing to teach people podcasting as a means of niche marketing in order to keep them out of my market and let them find their own niche. (Okay, maybe 19 more direct competitors.)

But that also imposes a big burden on me to be the best and most representative person out there for my fellow MSers. That is a responsability I don't take lightly.

This podcast is needed by people who have MS. And people who have MS are likely to be picking up the podcast, finally get the information they need and, in the process, feeling less like poor orphans, feeling like nobody out there gives a, uh, crap.

Its called focused or niche advertising and its some that podcasting can really deliver.

The internet in a way of disseminating textual, graphical, audio and video information without regard to distance, without regard to time, without regard to audience size. In effect, its like Tivo on steroids for markets of any size.

Now Adam Curry may be right about the stranglehold that the **AAs have on the content and, something I have not heard him go on about, the chokehold that the broadcasters have on the **AAs, but it is really immaterial to the scale of the problem (or it would be if only they all weren't a bunch lawsuit happy accountants who feel that they they can't let you exist if your business model isn't aligned with theirs.)

The scale of the problem is really at the heart of the problem.

They were like we are less than a hundred years ago, but they have grown from small operators into really big fish which need enormous amounts of profit in order to keep their marging up.

And because we could never generate the numbers of dollars they need, they'll walk over or around our corpses, muttering about efficient markets and profit margins, never seeing us or hearing us yelling at them that we don't need efficient markets or profit margins, we'd just like news about what we care about without having to shore up the whole rotting edifice.

That's the premise anyway. Since the MS marketplace can't support can't support more than two or four or ten individuals doing this for them, providing this service, we have to be careful about how we tread and who we tread on. Given the monopolistic mind set present in the computing world and its seeming inability to deal with more than one vendor at a time, at least its something.

Please collaborate with me or find your own niche because, unlike Schrodinger's cat where it was iffy, there definitely ain't enough air in the box for two of us.

Then again, if you draw write your own business plan, you're not likely to find any backing. The returns are too low.

I'm going to be attending an MS function on Sunday the nineteenth of March and you'll be hearing all about it.

And I'm still working on a review for Rachel Knight's book. (My wife likes it too, perhaps more than I.)

Wish me luck and success. (Try the email on the page :-)

I'm about to launch myself into a new venture.

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