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Green Sheet Scores High Marks

 

W e’ve received and tabulated the results of our annual readership survey and are excited to report that we received a 7.8% response. Those of you who work with direct mail can appreciate what a phenomenal response rate this is. So first, we would like to say thank you to the hundreds of subscribers who completed and returned the survey. We use this data to determine editorial projects, issue themes, and special reports, and your responses guarantee that we will be able to meet your needs throughout the coming year.

     So, on to the results.

  • The Green Sheet Bi-Weekly

     Our survey results show that 78% of respondents read every single issue of The Green Sheet every two weeks. An additional 20% admitted that business keeps them hopping and they are not able to read every issue, but they read most issues. So, that means that 98% of GS readers read almost every issue. This is on par with last year’s result of 97%.

     Not only do our readers read their Green Sheet issues, they keep them for reference. Sixty-two percent hold on to every back issue for future use. Another 23% keep most of their issues, so, again, we have a successful figure of 85% of respondents holding on to most or all of their issues for future reference. In fact, 87% of our readers share their Green Sheet issues with colleagues and associates, up from 81% in last year’s survey.

  • GSQ Quarterly

     We were happy to see that the GSQ, more than 10 years junior to The Green Sheet, is read just as thoroughly, and the information is as valuable to our readers as the data in The Green Sheet. As evidence, 73% of our readers read every single GSQ issue while 18% more read most of them, which means that 91% of our readers hang on every word of the GSQ, which is up from 89% last year. And, not only do they read it, 80% hold on to most of their issues for the purposes of industry information, up from 78% last year. Of those 55% who retain every single issue. 70% of survey respondents share their GSQ issues with associates and colleagues, which is an increase from the 64% figure of last year’s survey.

  • The Green Sheet, Inc.

     When The Green Sheet and GSQ are considered in tandem, 87% of our readers report reading almost every word we print! On the issue of retaining and consulting back issues for reference, 91% of our readers consult their GS and GSQ back issue for educational and informational purposes. In that same vein, 71% use those issues in business presentations. Hand in hand with that figure is the fact that 97% of respondents recommend both The Green Sheet and GSQ to associates.

     Moving on to specific aspects of The Green Sheet and GSQ, we are pleased to know that 82% rate the quality of writing in our publications as being very good to excellent. This is up from last year’s response of 76%. Another issue we queried readers about is the page layout and graphic design of The Green Sheet and GSQ. We are pleased that 96% feel that our production staff is doing a good to excellent job, a three point increase from last year. We also want to know how our topics and writing meet the needs of our readers, therefore, we asked our readers how the level of writing in  The Green Sheet and GSQ, suits their needs. A full 91% of respondents told us that they feel the level of data is “just right.”

     Delving into that topic further, we broke down our inquiries into the types of information provided in The Green Sheet and GSQ, and how useful the information and data is to our readers’ businesses. Where the editorial comment articles are concerned, 92% told us that they find this information useful to essential, again an increase from the 90% of last year.

     Articles and topics covered in The Green Sheet publications can be broken down into six categories: Financial Services Acquisitions, Internet Commerce, ISO opportunities, POS Trends, Resource Guide, and Sales Tips. Last year, respondents felt that POS trends and equipment articles were the most useful, followed by the Resource Guide, Sales Tips, Financial Service Acquisitions, and a three-way tie for general banking info, Internet commerce, and ISO opportunities. This year, the break down is slightly different, but POS trends and equipment is still first, followed by The Resource Guide, Internet Commerce Tools and Development, Financial Service Acquisitions, and a tie between Sales Tips and ISO Opportunities.

  • GS Online

     As was the case with last year’s survey, we found that The Green Sheet paper version has an entirely different audience than The Green Sheet online. Last year, 68% of our print readers had not accessed The Green Sheet Online in the last 30 days. This year, as the Internet becomes more commonplace, that number decreased to 61%, which proves to us that our print and online readers are two separate audiences. To further drive the point home, a full 49% of respondents do not use online resources at all, which is a peculiar increase from the 43% of last year’s survey.

     ISOs have taken advantage of the free ISO Web sites. Sixty-two percent report that it has been useful or essential to their business efforts. For those ISOs who have not taken advantage of this service yet, go to http://www.greensheet.com to set up your free ISO Web site. In that same vein, only 8 % have placed an ad on The Green Sheet Online, down from 12% last year. For those who wish to take advantage of this free service, visit http://www.greensheet.com to post your free ad.

  • Advertising

     When it comes to advertising with The Green Sheet publications, if you’re one of the many on the waiting list for ad space in The Green Sheet and GSQ, the answer to our advertising questions will not surprise you. Half of our respondents have contacted a company because they advertised in GSQ. And, 67% of respondents have contacted a Resource Guide advertiser, based on their Resource Guide listing. Finally, 74% of respondents reported that they have contacted a company based on the ad they saw in The Green Sheet.

  • Who Are You?

     As many readers know, the main reason we ask our subscribers to complete the annual readership questionnaire is to find out who our readers are and what’s on their minds. It was not surprising to find that 78% of our readers classify themselves as an ISO (up from 73% last year). Twenty-four percent are equipment vendors, which is a significant increase from the 8% of last year. Eighteen percent are e-commerce providers, which is significant since we did not even have that category last year. Eleven percent of Green Sheet readers are merchant bank providers, 11% sell software (again, a category we did not have last year), and card issuing banks pull up the rear with 2%. But, that 2% is significant when it is ranked up against the 0% of last year.

     As far as what types of products and services our readers rep for, the number of Green Sheet readers representing AMEX, bankcard services, check drafting, check guarantee and verification went down while debit, Internet service, and Web site providers went up. We also added a few categories that were not included in last year’s questionnaire, including smart cards (11%), software (a whopping 60%), and e-commerce, which received a considerable response of 55%. If you haven’t heard it enough, e-commerce is “where it’s at.”

We also asked our readers to tell us about their prospecting and sales methods. The old standbys, such as telesales and telemarketing, remained constant. Autodial computer systems went down from 9% to 5%. Surprisingly, broadcast e-mail went down from 10% to 6%. Our guess is this is due to “Spam backlash.” Direct mail and door-to-door, perennial favorites at approximately 50% each, remained relatively constant. Internet marketing had the biggest jump, from 28% to 35%. Of course, customer referral is the resource used most by our readers at 80%, a slight increase over last year.

     Another popular sales prospecting method is attending industry trade shows and seminars. These events can lead to sales and are also great educational opportunities. We are happy to see that so many of our readers take advantage of these resources. If you are reading this at the ETA show, you are among the 27% of our readers who have attended an ETA show in the last 12 months. Forty-nine percent attended a Bank Administration Institute event, 27% took in a Treasury Management Association event, and The National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) attracted 58% of  The Green Sheet and GSQ readers.

     The numbers are healthy, but could be better. This could be due to fees, timing, or locations. These are the factors The Green Sheet Inc., considered when planning the five Green Sheet seminars to take place this year. (Cost is $95, call 800-757-4441 for more information.)

  • Industry Comments

     As always, The Green Sheet, Inc., asks our readers to identify problems and trends in the financial services industry. Not surprisingly, in our 1998 survey, 23% cited Y2K compliance as a significant problem. When the same question was posed in 1999, just 10% were concerned. Our readers are also less worried about tax compliance than they were last year, but they have growing concerns about finding qualified reps (51%), the decline in service providers (19%), and the cost of sales (38%). Regarding changes in the market, you would have to be living in a cave (a cave without a wireless modem that is) to not know that Internet business growth was cited as the most significant change. Last year 29% of respondents felt that the Web was the biggest area of change, this year that number more than doubled to 65%. Technology in general, finding quality reps, and cost of sales were also cited as significant changes.

     Again, we thank you, our readers, for taking the time to share your opinions and views with us. And please, if you have a thought to share, don’t wait for the next survey—go to the ISO forum at http://www.greensheet.com or e-mail greenshttx@aol.com and share your opinions with your peers and colleagues.

 

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