FaithLife Restructure Affects Verbum Staff?

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This post has 58 Replies | 11 Followers

Posts 13428
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 3:05 PM
Bob's point about "doing well as a product" seems to suggest that Vernum is selling reasonably well, but those sales haven't/won't increase if you throw marketing dollars at it. If you get get 130% of sales at 200% of the cost, it's not worth pursuing that growth - at least until the market natures/expands naturally. (The figures are illustrative, not real).

This is my personal Faithlife account. On 1 March 2022, I started working for Faithlife, and have a new 'official' user account. Posts on this account shouldn't be taken as official Faithlife views!

Posts 13428
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 3:11 PM

Paul Lee:

It would make more sense to solidify their customer base by making their price more competitive. They also need to provide a low cost solution to the young evangelicals: that's where the growth is.

What is the core value of Faithlife? Is it profit? or is it to provide the best service/product?

Faithlife has never been about being the cheapest, they've always been about being the best. They offer premium products, often (but not always) at something of a premium price. A race to the bottom (in terms of margins) will help no-one. I'd much prefer Faithlife to continue to pursue innovation and product development. That will grow not only Faithlife's customer base, but the market as a whole. 

This is my personal Faithlife account. On 1 March 2022, I started working for Faithlife, and have a new 'official' user account. Posts on this account shouldn't be taken as official Faithlife views!

Posts 1723
LogosEmployee
Bob Pritchett | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 4:07 PM

Steve:
Not sure how Verbum is "doing fine as a product" in that light. 

You spend $800k / yr to sell $1 million in widgets.

You decide to invest $800k more (people, ads, technology, etc.) to take widget sales to $5 million / year.

You sell the same $1 million in widgets.

Widget sales are fine -- still $1 million. But now you're losing $600k.

Maybe you needed that second $800k just to keep the $1 million in sales. (Alas! A terrible category...)

But maybe you go back to $800k / yr investment and sales stay at $1 million. Maybe you even drop to $500k expenses and sales stay at $1 million (Yay! Profit growth).

Why no growth?

Maybe the investment was poorly done: wrong people, bad ads, unneeded technology. Maybe you need to spend the next $800k differently.

Maybe the product is awesome, but there's only $1 million in widget demand out there and you're capturing it all.

Maybe you don't even know why.

(These are made up numbers and a made up situation.)

I know it's fun to play Monday-morning quarterback and analyze exactly what we did wrong. (I do it myself with companies where I'm the customer!)

But you don't have all the information.

What's amazing is, while I have more, I don't have all the information either. <smile>

Sometimes things don't go the way we planned, and sometimes we can figure out why, and sometimes we don't (and may never) know. There are a lot of variables.

I try to be as transparent as I can be without running an 'open books company', and while being respectful of the privacy and dignity of the people who work here (and who used to work here). So you're welcome to speculate, if you must, and I'll try to answer what questions I can, but I hope you'll remember that:

Not everything we do is a change of mission.

(In other words, sometimes we do or stop-doing something for reasons that have nothing to do with our mission / feelings / emotions / attitudes. We may not have the cash to subsidize it until it earns enough market share. We may have made a mistake. We may be busy working on another even cooler idea. The guy who knows how to do it could have quit to become a professional skier. Etc.)

My daily job is to make sure that "Revenue > Expenses".

I come to work to accomplish our mission ("We Use Technology to Equip the Church to Grow in the Light of the Bible") but on a daily basis I'm continually working on this deceptively simple, yet amazingly complicated, math problem.

Steve:
If you are able, I would like to hear more about how you "continue support and development" for Verbum.

We plan to keep licensing books, selling the product, etc. We're just making internal changes in staffing levels, organization, investment, etc.

Again, this is the daily business of business...

Posts 36362
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 4:59 PM

I suspect that Verbum will thrive under a user-demand base of features and resources. There are so many sub-markets within Catholicism and so many overlaps with the Anglican-Eastern Orthodox-Lutheran markets that the synergy can ignite seemingly random market growth. For example, today the ACW is being released (I'm still waiting ... impatiently). [Ancient Christian Writers]. With the amount of Patristic material available now, Logos only needs some Orthodox Bibles (on the way) to be well situated for the Orthodox market. They are also positioned for slices of the Church History, Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran markets. They need to add Medieval materials to fit the reception criticism market.

Similarly the ecclesial documents of Verbum - which I keep hoping will get a Guide section like Confessional documents - set a precedent that I wish the Lutherans would clamor for ... they have many interesting and valuable position papers. A number of other denominations with central offices also provide solid position papers.

From my perspective, Verbum offerings are currently strong in Patristics, Ecclesial documents and "professional convert" writings (Hahn, Ray, Newman ...). It needs to grow in Bible studies, Medieval writings and contemporary theology. With the reorganization it will be interesting to watch where Faithlife and user-demand takes it.

And, yes, there are several people leaving that I am sorry to see go but for personal reasons rather than concern for the long-term growth of the product.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1602
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 5:15 PM

Thanks, Bob.  Smile

I had no idea that Verbum was initiating more than $1M in widget differences in comparison to Logos versus projected sales.  Wow!

I understand the change of mission part.  I also understand the "Revenue > Expenses" part.

Thanks for the explanation!

Posts 9175
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 6:42 PM

abondservant:

After Rusty Davidson left, I switched to Mark Wheeler for my sales person... but he sent me an email last week saying that due to the restructuring of Verbum, it seemed a good time to pursue other interests.

So whatever is going on, affects the sales staff too.

No wonder I called today and asked for Mark and they said they didn't have anyone by that name working there...wow!

DAL

Posts 6120
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 7:31 PM

I will have some more comments later, but I hope that Faithlife does not forget that the Catholic market needs dedicated specialists in Catholic theology and practise as salespeople.

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.” St. Peter of Alcántara

Posts 2936
Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 28 2015 11:49 PM

What's a Catholic sales practice...??

Past IT Consultant. Past Mission Worker. Entrepreneur. Seminary Student (VIU).
Christian Debate Forum --- Auferstanden! Blog

Posts 6120
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 4:34 AM

Jan Krohn:

What's a Catholic sales practice...??

That is not quite what I meant. Let me rephrase: Faithlife needs to continue to have salespeople who are dedicated specialists in Catholic theology and practise in order for Faithlife to effectively serve (and sell to) large parts of the Catholic market.

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.” St. Peter of Alcántara

Posts 1602
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 5:49 AM

One last thing ... The change was a surprise for sure, but ...

I'm very happy with my Verbum software and all the books I have.  I plan to buy more in the future.  I also plan to keep talking it up to friends and acquaintances.  I'm looking forward to more titles being made available in the Verbum catalog.  I'm also happy that Luis and Brody are able to make contributions to FaithLife and the Catholic community.

... maybe we can all pitch in and help with content for the Verbum Blog.  I would like to see that keep going.

Smile

Posts 35
augustine9989 | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 9:34 AM

Just my two cents (for what they’re worth). I am very new to Verbum, having purchased my first library about a month ago. In months prior to that, I went back and forth, ruminating as to whether or not I should invest in a library given the cost and the fact that I had no professional need for the software. What ultimately sold me on the library were the specific titles in the collection and the ability to cross-references texts without having to manually search in specific resources. In addition, the ability to read the bible and other books with a commentary in split-screen mode is spectacular. I absolutely love Verbum and have since purchased additional resources and bundles. I see myself using the software (especially via the mobile apps) for a lifetime of spiritual enrichment. All that being said, I must admit that I had to conduct a lot of research on my own in order to discover the benefits of Verbum/Logos for a non-pro user such as myself. I hate to see resources being pulled from the Verbum brand because I think that, with a different marketing strategy, an investment in marketing dollars could (and still can) lead to a growth in “widget” sales.

Catholics have a reputation of being somewhat ignorant of scripture and Church doctrine and, as a Catholic, I can affirm that this reputation is somewhat deserved, at least in my experience dealing with my fellow Catholics over the past 30 or so years. Most Catholics raised from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s received abysmal catechesis. Despite that, I’ve noticed that young Catholic adults are much more fervent in their faith than the generation that came before them. These people would be ripe for a marketing strategy tailored to the layperson. I know a lot of young, tech-savvy and committed Catholic adults who are hungry for the faith and I’ve spoken to many of them about Verbum. Almost none of them have heard of it. Some are familiar with the Logos brand, which they perceive as professional software, designed exclusively for Protestant clergy and academics.

As time goes on, I have no doubt that more and more Catholic priests will discover and use Verbum. While that is good, I think that Faithlife needs to be careful about limiting the product’s marketing to clergy and academia. That is a very small market- especially in the west and I don’t see it growing in a substantial way any time soon. I believe that Verbum needs to be heavily marketed to the layperson with spiritual growth as a primary (not secondary) selling point. A lot of contemporary (and successful) technology/software companies distill their products and marketing into two distinct groups: “consumers” and “professionals.” As a “consumer” rather than a professional, I had to really dig to discover the benefits of Verbum for myself and my family. Those benefits should be front and center and there should be more affordable (smaller) libraries designed for practicing Catholic laity with options to expand as time goes on. The professional market will always be there because Verbum/Logos is the industry leader in this area. I hope that this is not an end to investment in the Verbum brand because there is still a huge untapped market that is waiting to discover this wonderful product.

Posts 274
Average Joe | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 10:48 AM

I guess this is why I haven't received any responses to my emails sent to experts@verbum.com and sales@verbum.com in the past week. I assumed it was a Christmas rush. 

Posts 5321
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 11:12 AM

Thank you Augustine for your great post. People like you are the reason I have wanted to have Faitlife Study Bible expanded to an Ecumenical edition covering the Deutrocanaonical books and an Expanded LEB which could be released almost immediately as from the books being done in LEB LXX. I know $250 seems like a small price to many and the Catechism study bundle at $50 is virtually no barrier at all... But I see a natural progression... Try FSBE see the value, snap up the ultra affordable bundle that is basic to the faith, move on to the starter that gives you a nice library to explore, and finally move onto Foundation (which is likely where a great deal would cease having got the ability to go back to the Greek/Hebrew, but some will move on I am sure). Bob has said that the vast majority of users never move on beyond there initial purchase, but I think for someone like yourself it proves that sales beyond the initial can and will happen when people get to know Verbum well.

-Dan

Posts 8967
RIP
Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 11:18 AM

Augustine:
These people would be ripe for a marketing strategy tailored to the layperson.

I agree. Although I am not a Catholic I bought Verbum Capstone to better understand Catholicism. I am just a layperson so a lot of the professional stuff is lost on me. Focusing on laypersons would expand the user base. I think Faithlife should consider this strategy on both the Verbum and Logos sites.

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

Posts 1602
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 1:38 PM

Thanks for you testimony, Augustine ... really good to hear. 

Marketing and sales are certainly a challenge.  As Bob has pointed out in many examples, there is a cost to doing business.  He is really good at what he does and I don't know what the data says.  But I believe him that things aren't adding up.

If I could share some personal experiences and observations ...

I live in an area of the U.S. where nearly half the population is Catholic, give or take, half a million+.  There is a Catholic seminary where we have ~90 seminarians, 30 or so from this area and the rest from all over the US and other countries.  There are 5 Catholic Universities/Colleges, 10 Catholic High Schools, 32 Catholic Elementary Schools.  There is a local Catholic television station, a bi-weekly Catholic Newspaper, two Catholic radio stations (English/Spanish), at least 4 Catholic book stores that I am aware of, and 50+ religious comunities.

I don't think that Verbum is being promoted, let alone used, in any of the afore mentioned schools.  I can't walk into any of the book stores and see Verbum on the shelf or get a demo.  I don't recall the last time I saw or head an ad in any of the media here about Verbum ... it may have happened at one time ... who knows.  The television and radio outlets mentioned contain both local and inter/national content.

I am very attentive to telling others about Verbum and answering questions.  Some are interested, most don't know what it is.  Those that have heard about it think it's way too expensive.  There have been a few that ask important questions and I have to make sure I take time and work through the benefit with them ... paper versus digital books and tagging, etc.  I show them personally from my laptop and convey the benefit I receive from Verbum, sometimes over the course of several conversations some time.  I think I have been able to convince 3 people to purchase Verbum and a base package.  (Sales is not my charism. LOL!) 

How can all this be?  I don't get it.

We should be able to generate $$$ for Bob and FaithLife just in this area alone, but it's like we are sleeping.  I can do what I can but that is not even close to a sliver of the potential.

I'm not sure what else to say or do to help.  Hence my previous expressions of worry at the loss of Verbum staff.

We are missing something somewhere ... perhaps many somethings.

Posts 6120
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 1:58 PM

I'm going to engage in a brief bit of speculation: FL invested heavily in Lumen. Lumen predictably flopped big time. The big money for Lumen marketing etc. is now done.

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.” St. Peter of Alcántara

Posts 5321
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 2:01 PM

Steve:
I don't think that Verbum is being promoted, let alone used, in any of the afore mentioned schools.  I can't walk into any of the book stores and see Verbum on the shelf or get a demo.  I don't recall the last time I saw or head an ad in any of the media here about Verbum ... it may have happened at one time ... who knows.  The television and radio outlets mentioned contain both local and inter/national content.

Book stores are good, but as Faithllife has no physical products any longer there is nothing to sell in a brick and mortar store. One solution to this might be to offer an installer on a Logos USB and have posters in store with the store getting a small percentage for new users. But I am not 100% sure this is a feasible option. Faithlife has Education page where they have developed a product for schools. But as far as I am aware this only just recently came out... While it could see sales in the next semester, traditionally schools have their resources plans done in June or early August at the latest for the following year. 

-dan

Posts 1602
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 2:08 PM

SineNomine:

I'm going to engage in a brief bit of speculation: FL invested heavily in Lumen.

Lumen?

Posts 6120
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 2:16 PM

Steve:

SineNomine:

I'm going to engage in a brief bit of speculation: FL invested heavily in Lumen.

Lumen?

You just highlighted a small part of the problem.

Lumen is the innovative highschool curriculum that Verbum created.

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.” St. Peter of Alcántara

Posts 1602
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 2:22 PM

SineNomine:

Steve:

SineNomine:

I'm going to engage in a brief bit of speculation: FL invested heavily in Lumen.

Lumen?

You just highlighted a small part of the problem.

Lumen is the innovative highschool curriculum that Verbum created.

Yikes!  My apologies.  I am aware of the High School program from e-mails and promotions from a year+ ago.  I forwarded them along to several Catholic H.S. teachers I know and also Seminary professors.  I just did realize there was a name for that program.  I don't see "Lumen" called out there.

Embarrassed

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