Lessons from the KDMC News Entrepreneur Boot Camp

All this week I will be teaching at the 2011 KDMC News Entrepreneur Boot Camp, being held at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. This is the third year for the camp, and we have an exciting crew of 16 journalist-entrepreneurs in attendance. I won’t introduce you to them just yet – we’ll wait until they are ready for their debuts, then Michele McLellan over at KDMC’s Leadership Blog will have the privilege of helping you to follow their emerging careers.

Because these campers are in the process of developing their entrepreneurial ideas, we are not webcasting the proceedings. But there is one way to follow along, and share in some of the learning that’s happening at the camp. Just follow the #KDMCcamp hashtag on Twitter. That’s the tag we’ll be using during the camp to tweet out interesting nuggets, lessons and wisdom that camp faculty and participants think will be of most use to the journalism community.

Here are a few of the lessons offered, from the first day of the camp:

– Advertising isn’t simply a source of revenue to you, the publisher; it should provide a benefit to the advertiser.

– If you can’t define the benefit to the advertiser – your customer – then you’ll never make a sale.

– Non-profits must be able to define deliverables to a sponsor or supporter, just as for-profit news sites define deliverables to their advertisers.

– Selling isn’t the act of presenting something, it’s the act of qualification.

– You’re not pushing something unneeded onto an advertiser when you sell, you are finding the advertisers who need the benefit you provide.

– You should listen two times as much as you talk to find out what someone’s willing to pay.

– “Tell me one thing to do that would make your life better.” Make that a required line in any pitch to an potential advertiser or supporter.

– If you meet customer needs, the money will find you.

If these are the sort of items of advice you’d like to hear more of, then, please, do follow the #KDMCcamp all this week. We’ve got a great line-up of faculty and alumni panel speakers coming – including Susan Mernit, Mark Potts and Rusty Coats. We’re having some great conversations at the samp, and we’d love to welcome you into them via Twitter.

About Robert Niles

Robert Niles is the former editor of OJR, and no longer associated with the site. You may find him now at http://www.sensibletalk.com.


  1. says:

    Tracy from West Seattle Blog, panel participant at last year’s camp: One thing to add. Do not undersell yourself. Do not. I am still horrified at how many people I see/hear who are selling ads for $25, $50, $100/month. We set a price point when we started selling 3 1/2 years ago. Out of respect for economic woes, we haven’t raised the prices, but it was a price that was fair to the potential sponsor AND to us, in terms of being able to actually make a living off a reasonable number of ads. It is easier to set a price going out and then drop it if nobody buys (or better yet, retool your message – as Robert writes, you have to sell the benefit – are you doing a good enough job of that?) than to keep raising prices to something reasonable. Good luck, all!