Fred Wilson writes: “Online does not cannibalize offline, it turbocharges it.”
Here are my proof points:
1 – The South Beach Diet. The book was doing ok. Then the publishers cut a deal with Waterfront Media where Waterfront paid for the rights to create subscription based online newsletters with diet tips. Waterfront then went into the paid search market and bought a huge amount of keywords around the south beach diet theme and drove a ton of traffic to the South Beach Diet website where they sold these online newsletter subscriptions. Guess what happened? Sales of the book took off. It turns out that all this online advertising, which the publisher was not paying for and in fact got paid for, were having a huge crossover effect on the sales of the book itself. The Wall Street Journal did a very good piece on this story several years ago. I am not going to take the time to go back and find it, but I assume if you are a subscriber, its in the archives.
2 – Seth Godin’s Books – Seth regularly puts his books in pdf form on the web for free months before his publisher releases them in print. Sounds crazy, right? Wrong. The viral spreading of the pdf version of the book creates buzz, word of mouth, and thought leadership for Seth’s book. When he releases them in print, they go to the top of the charts for business books. Read Seth’s books and blog for details on how this works.
Put your content online. Let it go where it wants to go. It won’t hurt your offline business, it will help it.