David Gardner has a deal for me as a member of The Motley Fool: for just $1,499a savings of $500 over the real $1,999 priceI can be one of the few, the proud, the members of Motley Fool Pro. While newsrooms and startups stress over whether people will pony up $120 or so a year for news and information, Gardner is using exclusivity (only a fraction of the 20,000-plus who already have "indicated interest" can sign up), time pressure (limited window that closes at midnight Wednesday) and hype (an e-mail totaling thousands of words, stuffed with charts and bold-faced factoids) to sign up subscribers to what essentially is a stock-picking service. Far be it for me to pass judgment on its value.
A radio ad running now tells people whose names start with one half of the alphabet to call in on one day for a freebie and the other half to call in the next. After a recent airing, the DJ said he doubted anyone would be turned away. I'm having a hard time believing Motley Fool will say no to money that comes in after the deadline.
What if we pitched news like that? At those price points, not much but hysterical laughter. People pay for services like this because they convince themselves it's an investment that can pay off. The newspaper campaigns that promise a certain dollar value of savings in Sunday couponsone ad concept that so far doesn't translate well online probably come the closest, but they also sound like an encouragement to keep the inserts and dump the rest.
By Staci D. Kramer