FaithLife Restructure Affects Verbum Staff?

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Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 2:48 PM

Dan Francis:

Book stores are good, but as Faithllife has no physical products any longer there is nothing to sell in a brick and mortar store. ...

That's a good point, Dan.  That said, I was talking with Mike, Verbum Nat'l Presenter, last month at an archdiocesan event and he had some physical product that he used at the Verbum table.  The issue there was that he was just another bookseller is a room full of booksellers.  Boo.

What he needed was a break-out session, attended by many, that capitalized on the value of Verbum.  As I understand, that is going to happen next  month at the Southwest Liturgical Conference here.  But having something along the line of what Mike had in the hands of the local bookseller might garner a few sales here and there.

Posts 35
augustine9989 | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 3:04 PM

Thanks Dan and Steve for your kind words. A couple of additional points came to mind-

For laity doing casual study, Faithlife needs to highlight their resources a bit more and demonstrate how the various bundles and libraries are financially better deals than other electronic ecosystems, such as Amazon's Kindle. These days, the average person has no intention of acquiring hundreds of printed books and so the comparison to print material is somewhat irrelevant. When purchased separately, Verbum/Logos resources appear to be more expensive than Amazon (for example). However, when looking at a bundle or a library, the resources are actually cheaper when purchased in bulk. That, in addition to the amazing functionality of the software (which other ecosystems lack), makes Verbum a no brainer for people who are committed to reading this sort of material. If this product is presented to laypeople as a sort of Catholic ebook platform with integrated connectivity between resources and bible study thrown in, I think you have a winner (I'm limiting myself to a Catholic perspective but, really, this could be said for any faith tradition). That's not to say that they should actually change the product or functionality. The power tools are there for a reason. It's just the message that needs to change and maybe the addition of a few more introductory bundles.

Another point- they need to focus on committed Catholics. That means working with Catholic radio and television. I listen to Catholic radio very often and have never heard a promo for Verbum, save for an occasional off-the-cuff mention by Jimmy Akin on Catholic Answers. They also need to do outreach with liturgically traditional parishes- the sorts of parishes with beautiful liturgies that people go out of their way to drive to. Every area has one or two of those and they're not difficult to identify. Again, you have people who are already making sacrifices for their faith. Work with these pastors and bring them on board. Offer workshops and maybe involve the diocese. 

All that being said, I am just one uninformed guy making suggestions and I can't even begin to imagine the challenges and issues that are involved in marketing a product like this. I'm sure Verbum has brighter people than me at the helm. Still, I think it's worth mentioning these things because they would have made my decision (as a potential customer) a lot easier, In the end, the idea behind marketing is to penetrate the group that you're targeting your product towards and I think that we are beginning to see that there was very little penetration outside of clergy and academia. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Catholic market is dried up. I think it's just the opposite.

Posts 1602
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 29 2015 3:51 PM

Augustine:

... I listen to Catholic radio very often and have never heard a promo for Verbum, save for an occasional off-the-cuff mention by Jimmy Akin on Catholic Answers.

Yep.  Big problem!  No promo.

Posts 244
Brian Losabia | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 30 2015 5:40 AM

The FaithLife (social networking site) Verbum group's reading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church during the Year of Faith was probably the most exciting time for me so far as a Logos/Verbum user.  There were new versions of the software coming out, a great mix of both new Catholic pre-publication titles and spiritual classics coming through community pricing, and a lot of people were discovering, by their study, the richness and beauty of the Catholic Church as they were also discovering the surprising and impressive power of a Logos library.  There was much good discussion taking place on the message boards, and the Scripture Study Software blog had a good mix of devotional posts and instructional videos.  I was even grateful for some of the product notifications which would be sprinkled into the blog here and there, since they were often products which were new to me, and were right in my wheelhouse, so to speak.  It seems like when the Year of Faith ended, and Verbum got segregated to its own website, a lot of that momentum sort of dissipated.

Posts 2953
Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 31 2015 4:33 PM

I am not Roman Catholic, but I have appreciated Verbum material.  I bought the Fathers of the Church series, which was a major purchase for me.

I am sorry that these moves were needed, but FL has to use its best business judgment on such matters.  I am glad the Verbum resources will continue to be sold.

I do not think I know FL's business better than they do. 

However, I do not understand some of their marketing practices, or lack thereof.  I selfishly am referring to the failure to more aggressively target various groups.  In particular, I am referring to my denomination.

I do NOT mean that FL needs a "Methodist" division or staff.  I just mean that there is very little targeted sales for what is the third largest religious body in America.  Most United Methodists, contrary to popular opinion, are evangelical and Bible oriented.  (That is not true in the Western Jurisdiction, which is FL's home area.  Perhaps that fact colors their view of the potential market.)

I have used Logos Bible software for 25 years, and I have introduced it to at least a dozen friends and church members who now use it.  Logos has many Methodist oriented resources in their catalog.  It is just a matter of marketing to this group.  Wesleyan / Methodist scholars like John Oswalt, Ben Witherington, Bill Arnold, Tom Oden, and many more have resources already in the Logos catalog.  But there is little attempt to let Methodist pastors or lay people know of these resources.  I would like to see more of my fellow UM pastors introduced to FL. 

It seems that could be done with current staff in general sales.  Just an opinion, and a lonely voice in the third largest Christian body in America.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 5321
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 31 2015 5:08 PM

Micheal I agree with you, the lack of a Methodist or Wesleyan package is bewildering. Almost as much as why it took so long to get a catholic product forum here... or why it is not clearly noted that Verbum software questions should be directed to,

Logos 6 could easily be Logos/Verbum 6 etc. Because I know enough where my question belongs but being directed to the forums from the Verbum program how is a person to know where to go... I suppose now there can go to Catholic Products but Verbum was directing people there long before that was there. I am not saying these are major errors but it seems confusing to put a whole lot of money in sales when people looking for support online, possibly for pre sales info if not finding things easily.

-Dan

Posts 4184
abondservant | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 31 2015 7:49 PM

I'm not catholic, but I did buy a relatively significant verbum package (Eg it would cost me 180$ to get to capstone) this past year largely due to the influence of Mark.

It feels like a lot of turnover, simply because it was people that I knew (back to back). But I'm sure its a normal amount relatively speaking.

Hope it all gets sorted, and both brands exceed expectations in the coming year.

L2 lvl4 (...) WORDsearch, L9

Posts 6125
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 31 2015 9:02 PM

(Hey MJ!) I just noticed that the reply-to email address for an email I got from Verbum earlier this week begins "catholicandliturgical@".

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

Posts 36369
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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 31 2015 10:03 PM

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

Posts 163
Randy Lane | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 1 2016 6:56 AM

Paul Lee:

Faithlife tried to expand into other markets aggressively. But the expansion strategy seems to have been poorly executed.  The way it behaved, revenue seems to be more important to them than providing serving its customers with the best products with the best pricing. In order to finance its expansion, the cost of its products kept increasing. It seemed to have lost its vision. Rather than focusing in growing the customer base by providing the most cost effective solution among different competitors, it has increasingly resorted to squeezing more revenue out of each customer. This gave an opportunity for its competitors to erode their customer base.

Because the attendance of mainline and non-evangelical denominations (e.g. Anglican) have been declining, effort devoted into expanding into these markets is unlikely to yield the revenue expected. 

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?

 

But keep one very important fact about FL in mind.

NO DEBT!! 

A company committed to debt-free operation has to be aggressive about financial strategies and "profitability" across the board. 

Posts 6125
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 3 2016 7:36 PM

Randy Lane:
A company committed to debt-free operation has to be aggressive about financial strategies and "profitability" across the board. 

It also needs good storefronts. To this day I cannot justify to myself why Verbum.com did not simply begin as a carbon copy of Logos.com that was then modified. If Logos.com in its present incarnation gets 4 out of 5 stars, Verbum.com does not yet manage a 2.

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

Posts 274
Average Joe | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 7:30 AM

SineNomine:

Randy Lane:
A company committed to debt-free operation has to be aggressive about financial strategies and "profitability" across the board. 

It also needs good storefronts. To this day I cannot justify to myself why Verbum.com did not simply begin as a carbon copy of Logos.com that was then modified. If Logos.com in its present incarnation gets 4 out of 5 stars, Verbum.com does not yet manage a 2.

Right. I find myself viewing and ordering from the Logos site far more often simply because each product page indicates whether the volume is part of a larger package and also lets me know which particular volumes in a collection that I already own. It makes it much easier for me to make purchasing decisions. It would be nice if the Verbum site had some of those features.

Posts 274
Average Joe | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 8:45 AM

Just to echo some of what Augustine and others have said, I really think there is a huge potential market for Verbum and I hope the team is able to figure out the best way to tap into it. It is mainly for selfish reasons: the more Catholic customers there are, the more Catholic products will be offered. Wink

For me, Verbum is the product I was looking for years to find. I had bought stuff like "Welcome to the Catholic Church" (now defunct) and the "Faith Database" and, while both were great in their own way, I saw more potential for interconnectedness between the vast library of materials from the history of the Catholic Church (between the Early Church Fathers, writings of the saints, and Church documents).

The price tag was a hurdle when I was comparing it to those other types of software (which retailed for $100 and $50 respectively). But when I started to view it as more of a digital library ecosystem akin to Amazon Kindle, the price tag made much more sense to me. It is easier for me to justify spending money on a digital library I will get to keep for life rather than a software program that will be replaced by the next model in a year or two. I spent $100 on "Welcome to the Catholic Church"  ten years ago and my newest computer doesn't even recognize that there is anything written on the disc—so it is essentially useless to me now. With Verbum, I feel confident that I will still have access to my library for years and years (hopefully the rest of my life).

Posts 6125
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 9:33 AM

Average Joe:
Just to echo some of what Augustine and others have said, I really think there is a huge potential market for Verbum and I hope the team is able to figure out the best way to tap into it.

The market really is massive.

I am not quite clear about the restructuring: who, at present, is trying to tap into it right now (beyond basic direct sales)?

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

Posts 202
Stephen Terlizzi | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 9:58 AM

SineNomine:

Average Joe:
Just to echo some of what Augustine and others have said, I really think there is a huge potential market for Verbum and I hope the team is able to figure out the best way to tap into it.

The market really is massive.

I am not quite clear about the restructuring: who, at present, is trying to tap into it right now (beyond basic direct sales)?

I agree with both of your points. As a Catholic theologian and a technology marketing executive, I see a huge gap filled for many Catholics with the Catechism package alone. This would lead to upsales in four areas: biblical scholarship, contemporary authors (e.g. Hahn), liturgical and contemplative prayer (e.g. St. Teresa of Avila), and even potentially Mariology. 

However, since the transition to the standalone Verbum website, I have perceived a loss of momentum in the branding and marketing of Verbum.

Just my humble opinion and observations.

Agape,

Steve

Posts 489
LogosEmployee
Louis St. Hilaire | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 1:21 PM

SineNomine:

(Hey MJ!) I just noticed that the reply-to email address for an email I got from Verbum earlier this week begins "catholicandliturgical@".

This is an old (pre-Verbum) e-mail address that seems to get used sometimes due to a glitch or limitation in our e-mail system, so I wouldn't read anything into it.

The changes here have to do more with internal management structure than overall brand strategy for Verbum. We've had a lot of success as Verbum--much more than when we were just a sub-brand of Logos--and we're still convinced that the Catholic market is large and distinct enough to warrant its own brand.

SineNomine:
It also needs good storefronts. To this day I cannot justify to myself why Verbum.com did not simply begin as a carbon copy of Logos.com that was then modified. If Logos.com in its present incarnation gets 4 out of 5 stars, Verbum.com does not yet manage a 2.

There were technical reasons that made it unwise or impossible to just re-skin Logos.com. The functionality of Verbum.com has lagged as a result because it often requires duplicate work. The good news is that there are back-end improvements coming this year that should eliminate most of this problem and bring all our sites up to parity.

Stephen Terlizzi:
However, since the transition to the standalone Verbum website, I have perceived a loss of momentum in the branding and marketing of Verbum.

I could see a few things fueling this impression. The website has indeed required a lot of our attention (partly due to the technical reasons stated above). But it also coincided with the development of the Verbum Spanish and high school products and (shortly after) the loss of some people that had been key to the initial launch of Verbum. So, at least on the marketing and product development side, we've had to do more with less for quite a while now.

We're not giving up on these initiatives, much less on our established products, but we're hoping that restructuring and refocusing will put us on a firmer basis for sustainable growth and future development of the product.

Posts 1602
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 3:54 PM

Thanks for the comments and insight, Louis.  You probably know this already, but I/we love Verbum and all the Catholic resources that FaithLife keeps providing.  I/We use it every day for study and in ministry.

I'm thinking out loud that It would help our individual causes to spread the word if we saw a little bit more in the way of promotion in the national Catholic media outlets ... Catholic Answers, NC Register, OSV, Relavent Radio, even local Catholic radio and newspapers.  We know that's an investment but maybe some small steps can be initiated on a consistent basis that would help the cause growth you mention above.

Lastly, we're all glad to hear that you and Brody are still with FaithLife and appreciate the efforts of all who are helping with Verbum in whatever capacity.

Smile

Posts 6125
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 7:25 PM

Louis St. Hilaire:
The changes here have to do more with internal management structure than overall brand strategy for Verbum. We've had a lot of success as Verbum--much more than when we were just a sub-brand of Logos--and we're still convinced that the Catholic market is large and distinct enough to warrant its own brand.

Great!

Louis St. Hilaire:
There were technical reasons that made it unwise or impossible to just re-skin Logos.com.

OK.

Louis St. Hilaire:
The functionality of Verbum.com has lagged as a result because it often requires duplicate work. The good news is that there are back-end improvements coming this year that should eliminate most of this problem and bring all our sites up to parity.

I've read mention of back-end improvements for Logos.com before. I'm really looking forward to this happening.

Louis St. Hilaire:
We're not giving up on these initiatives, much less on our established products, but we're hoping that restructuring and refocusing will put us on a firmer basis for sustainable growth and future development of the product.

Sounds good to me.

Louis St. Hilaire:
So, at least on the marketing and product development side, we've had to do more with less for quite a while now.

Hopefully now you can do more with more. Smile

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

Posts 274
Average Joe | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 4 2016 7:37 PM

Steve:

I'm thinking out loud that It would help our individual causes to spread the word if we saw a little bit more in the way of promotion in the national Catholic media outlets ... Catholic Answers, NC Register, OSV, Relavent Radio, even local Catholic radio and newspapers.  We know that's an investment but maybe some small steps can be initiated on a consistent basis that would help the cause growth you mention above.

I have seen many ads for Verbum on the Catholic Answers Forums. I plug it over there whenever I can, too. Big Smile

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