Anatomy of a digital pioneer….

It was early 2001 and Connected, the weekly email newsletter for the consumer electronics industry that had launched a few months earlier was spreading like wildfire (literally, we discovered it was being on-forwarded to 800 email addresses in China).

Our subscription revenue model was holding, just. But it had become apparent that we needed another income stream it we were going to make it to the next year. We had already sold our AMP shares and dipped into our mortgage advance account to fund the business and our resources were diminishing. The phrase ‘crowdsourcing’ was yet to be devised.

The path ahead was tricky, websites were popping up everywhere and it seemed obvious to go down that track. But I knew that our key reader, the male CEO of large consumer electronics companies such as Breville, Miele, Electrolux and Winnings, didn’t even use the Internet and usually asked their secretaries (who had the PC’s on their desks) to print out the newsletter so that they could read it in a paper form.

So, could we make the move to a website and more importantly, how could we sell the concept of ‘digital advertising’ to traditional Australian appliance businesses, many of whom were rusted onto the B2B print magazine offer and couldn’t discern if the Internet was really going to last?

But digital pioneers are resilient and the growing team at Connected had a few tricks up our sleeves. Firstly, I had been the founding editor of the consumer electronics B2B magazine and had helped to guide it from a startup in 1995 to a million-dollar revenue earner in under five years.

My contacts within the industry were deep, many were loyal and thank-goodness, they trusted me.

Second, my business partner and sales manager Patrick Keaney, was a charming yet tenacious Celt raised in the wilderness of Connemara on Ireland’s West Coast. The fact that he had never sold advertising previously was irrelevant. He was a fast learner and passionate about the opportunities which lay before us; he was hard to resist.

Finally, we had discovered a fledging digital agency hidden in a cranny in North Sydney. The owners of The ConstructionSite George Opadchy and Peter Smoygi were young and somewhat eccentric, but managed the digital platform for Quiksilver and they were also riding a wave.

They focused on the solution to our dilemma and Peter Smogyi eventually developed the concept of an “animated advertorial and banner” which would enable the advertiser’s product to actually move within the newsletter. That was game changing for an industry dominated by emerging technology and something our print media competitors couldn’t discern…we were on our way.

Claire Moffat

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