A Sample FairPay Offer
The following is a rough model of how a
FairPay offer might be framed to a buyer.
(A skilled marketing communicator might do this much better and more simply
-- this is just a suggestion of the kind of things that might be said.)
For this simplified example we consider a
newspaper that has decided to go to a freemium "soft" pay wall model such as planned by The
New York Times, and by others considering the Journalism Online Press+ platform. Call
it The Times Journal. A sample FAQ is also included.
progress - 6/17/10, revised 8/15/10, 7/15/11)
As you know, The Times Journal Web site has been
free, but we cannot continue to offer it without some subscriber payment and
still provide the quality content you count on. Providing the
journalism you expect from us is very costly, and more and more readers now
get it online.
offering a conventional subscription plan, but also are experimenting with a new way to give our readers an unusual degree of freedom,
largely on a "pay what you think fair" basis, as an alternative to more rigid
conventional pricing methods.
Standard Subscription Plan:
As with many Web
services, we now offer a simple pricing plan with two levels of service: a
basic level of up to 10 articles per
month free, with a subscription level that is required for more intensive reading
(more than 10 articles per month).
The standard subscription costs $4.95 per month. You may elect
that subscription plan now, or at any time that you decide you want more
than 10 articles in any month.
As a preferred, more flexible alternative, we are selectively
offering to you and other regular readers what we call our FairPay Plan. This monthly
service works on the basis that you "pay what you think fair"
-- you are free to set the
price each month to whatever level you believe to be fair, considering your
level of use and the value of The Times Journal to you, at the end of each
The FairPay aspect of this plan
comes in from the fact that we will review what you elect to pay each month
(and your usage for that month, plus any feedback you provide in your
pricing form), and will determine if you have been paying
at a level that we can accept as fair. If so, we will continue to offer monthly
renewals to you on this FairPay basis. If not, you will be offered a regular
subscription at $4.95 per month, or can simply revert to just the 10
articles per month that are offered free, with no subscription.
Introductory FairPay Bonus ...and continuing Special FairPay
If you try our FairPay Plan and continue it at satisfactory
pricing levels for three months, we will provide a special
bonus, a Times Journal "FairPay Patron" tote bag, in fine
canvas. This $15 value item is available only to FairPay
subscribers in good standing. As you continue on the FairPay plan, we
will provide other special bonuses from time to time, as a
reward for your cooperation and continuing readership and
photo of tote bag with prominent "FairPay Patron" label***]
We view FairPay as a way for us to
jointly learn how to exchange the value you get from us for the money you
agree to pay us for our newspaper. Over time we hope to add more nuanced offers, so that
we learn to understand our subscribers better. Those who pay well will get premium
service levels and various special benefits, and those who pay less well get more basic service levels.
Of course those who pay much less, at a level we cannot accept as fair, will
be offered only the standard subscription plan.
Also, after a few months we plan to allow
readers who pay at acceptable levels to set prices less often, going from
monthly to quarterly, and later to yearly pricing reviews (unless you prefer
more frequent reviews), so that the process becomes even easier.
We hope this FairPay Plan will work well for you
and for us. However, if after a period of experimentation we find that
it does not result in good pricing behavior from a sufficient number of
readers, we may be forced to discontinue the plan. We hope you find
this plan attractive, and that we will be able to continue it and expand it.
(We will also maintain the conventional subscription plan, so you may opt
for that at any time, should you so desire.)
Additional information is in the FairPay FAQ
Consumer FairPay FAQ [sample]
Why are you offering this FairPay Plan?
We want to give you the maximum flexibility to set a price that is
fair with respect to how you use The Times Journal, and how you value our
journalism. We are counting on your fairness, and we want to build a
cooperative relationship with you, as one of our valued readers. If
you play fairly with us, we will do our best to give you maximum freedom,
and to find other ways to reward you.
The FairPay Plan is intended to let you tailor a plan that fits
you exactly -- and to continue to make adjustments as your usage
warrants. You may feel you will not read enough articles often enough
to make the standard subscription fee of $4.95 worthwhile. Maybe you will only read a few more than
the 10 free articles. We know that standard subscription plans have
many disadvantages. Obviously, we have to set our regular subscription
price at a level that covers the usage of our average subscriber. We
have to balance a price that will not discourage occasional readers, but
will also not be so low that regular readers do not carry their weight.
One single subscription price does not really fit all.
What if I view only a few articles in one
If you view less than the 10 articles that would otherwise be free, or even
a few more, you are free to pay nothing, without fear that we will revoke
your FairPay privileges. However, as a regular reader you might also
feel that those articles were valuable, and that some payment is appropriate.
What if I am a heavy reader of many
articles almost every day?
We hope you find greater value than the average subscriber and will feel it
appropriate to pay proportionately more than the $4.95 rate (which is aimed at average
subscribers). If you do so, we may offer special services to show our
appreciation. But a payment that is not well below the standard rate would
not lead us to revoke your basic FairPay participation.
What information will you use to decide what
We will provide a usage report with a simple Web form that you can use to
indicate why you paid what you did. You might use this to
clarify your usage of
services, your view of the value received, the context of your use (such as
business or pleasure or student), and to note any service problems you encountered, and the like.
If your pricing is above or below average, this will help us understand why
you think that to be fair.
We will also ask if you are willing to share some basic data on your demographics
and income (but will not require that). We may also check commercially
available databases to better understand your situation relative to our
if I am on a limited budget?
We understand that people have varying means, and are willing to adapt our
expectations accordingly, based on what you tell us and what we may know from
What if few readers pay
as much as you would like?
Our hope is that readers will understand that we need to cover the costs of
If too few readers do, we may be forced to eliminate the FairPay option,
and require all readers to subscribe at fixed rates if they want to read more than 10
articles per month.
Do your really expect people to pay more than the standard rate
Much as public television and museums have premium subscribers and benefactors, we hope those who
are regular readers -- and those
value the quality of our content, and can afford to pay more, will see fit
to do so.
We hope you will see that as a way of helping
us to serve you -- as well as to compensate for those who cannot afford to pay full
price. We will seek ways to show our appreciation to those who pay at
premium or benefactor levels.
Can my payments vary widely from month to
Sure, if your usage varies, or your value-received varies, it would be fair
to reflect that in what you decide to pay. For periods you use a lot,
and get high value, a higher price might be fair. If there are periods
you are away or otherwise not reading often, a lower price might not be
inappropriate. And if we help you achieve financial success, perhaps
you will see fit to thank us with a higher price. To the extent that
we see that your usage varies, we will report that and suggest a price that
we think corresponds accordingly, but you will still be free to adjust
upward or downward from that as you judge fair. The pricing form will
ask you to set your price in terms of a percentage of the suggested price --
you can price at that suggested price, or higher or lower by whatever
percentage you wish to specify each time.
Can I pay nothing at all?
Yes, any time you really think that is fair. If you give a
reason why you think that is fair, and it is a reason we can accept as
reasonable (such as being away, or having reported technical problems, or
some other reason why you feel that you got little or no value), we will try to be
accepting of that. But if there you do not provide a reasonable explanation, we
will not continue your FairPay plan.
I get cut off from FairPay if I make a single mis-step that you consider
Not if you make a reasonable effort justify the fairness of any payments
that are well below suggested prices. FairPay is designed to converge
on fairness over the course of a relationship, so if you show a good-faith
effort to explain low payments on your pricing form, we will seek to
understand your reasons, and work with you. We may ask for more
information, and/or may put you into a probationary status while we try to
continue to work with you, to see if we can agree that you are being fair
over a series of transactions. But if you set a very low price without
giving any justification, then you might be excluded from further
transactions. Even then, we will offer a dispute resolution process if
you wish to seek re-instatement.
this monthly price setting going to be a burden?
We will do all we can to streamline the process.
Once we see that
you are pricing at acceptable levels, we will extend more FairPay "credit," allowing pricing to be done quarterly, or even yearly.
We expect to start that after three months.
Your monthly pricing form will have simple buttons to let you select the
standard subscription price of $4.95, or a suggested price based on your
actual usage, or the price you had set for the
previous month, or to let you enter any other rate you wish.
The form will
also have a simple multiple choice form for feedback on any issues that
affect why you set that rate (and a space for entering any comments, if
We hope you will find that it
provides you with a high level of flexibility and satisfaction, and helps us
serve you better, and that compensates for any minor effort it adds.
Seeing the full power of FairPay, and how
it works, takes a step outside conventional thinking...
-- please contact us
for a free consult on how it can work for your business: