Revenue Sources
Section 3.4.
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Setting up an Information Telephone Line

Jim Davidson

A 1-900 line would be a great way to raise awareness of the Artemis Project, and to get some money for spaceship parts in the process.

Setting up an information line is not easy, however. Information lines need significant inducements to get large numbers of callers. One way to get callers is to offered the inducement of a sweepstakes opportunity with entry by either calling the 900 number or sending a letter to our PO Box, with the sweepstakes winner chosen at random from among all entries received by either method. The prize, if the revenues warranted it, could be a $40k ticket into space.


Though MCI was making noises about a piece of the action two years ago, the phone companies were universally taking a flat fee per call when I was running a 900 number business. That was amounting to about 35 cents a minute, but several factors are significant. First, the phone company pays after 60 days and only on those calls which are not "disputed" by the customer. Many, many calls are disputed, even though they were made legitimately, because all you have to do if you don't want to pay for a 900 call is say you dispute it.

There are other costs to pay. A "service bureau" will charge you about 40 cents to $1 a call for providing the end-service. This includes a bunch of phone lines, a bunch of recorded messages, a process for letting you change out the message, or live voices for those real-time calls.

Unless you can get more than 500 calls a week, it is difficult to pay for the overhead costs of a 900 number. With an advertising budget of $1500 per month, 500 calls can be generated using cable television and print media. That is another cost to factor into your plans, though Internet can be used to publicize the number to some extent. The effectiveness of your advertising is the single greatest risk factor in making the 900 number work.

Alternate Revenue Sources

You would do well to "capture" information from each caller, by recording them telling you their name, address, and phone number, or by capturing their phone number (DNR systems are widespread; be advised that you give your phone number out whenever you call an 800 or 900 number). This gives you a list which is very valuable to you and to others. You can mail people a newsletter soliciting additional calls, offering products, or advertising other people's products. You can also market the mailing list to companies that buy and sell such lists. That can result in 25 cents or more per name per month, which adds up as your list grows.

  • We charged $2.99 for our call. I don't think much more than that can be obtained for a space information line. National Space Institute charged about $1.99 per minute to listen to the astronauts on their service Dial A Shuttle. I don't think that service is active anymore, and it might be possible to start it up again.

    Many forms of contests have been successfully linked with 900 numbers. These include trivia contests and other forms of knowledge tests. With adequate prizes such as cash, products from commercial sponsors, trips to amusement parks or shuttle launches, something might be done to attract lots of callers.

    Revenue Sources

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