For most publications it was a simple copy and paste job. We copied content from the magazine and pasted it right onto the the new website. The big question of the day was, "Should we hold off posting the web content, as it might hurt readership of the identical print content. Then something unexpected happened that changed everything:
That's right, nothing happened. Because we discovered that no new web content meant no new web visitors, and as result, no new ad dollars. The dialog abruptly shifted to how we could develop fresh content for the magazine's website and how to monetize it.
That was ten years ago. OK, so why are so many publishers having the same discussion, right now, about digital magazines?
I've heard it all over the magazine industry, "We tried publishing a digital magazine, but nothing happened." How soon we forget...no new content equals incremental new readership and incremental new revenue.
But what if you put new content into digital magazines? What if they were not just a duplication of your magazine but an extension into niche areas unprofitable to service with print? What if they were utilized as a new content platform, not just a means of digital distribution? What if they were created to function as graphical, upscale newsletters in industries or categories where graphical appeal counts?
The trend has already started. The people at "Winding Road" is a digital only car magazine that gets over 180,000 unique readers viewing an average of 22 pages every month. Click on the link below and take a look. It could be your future.
PS: Why no industry association has not taken the time to research the basics of how digital magazines work as an advertising platform is a mystery to me. I'd like to help start that discussion with anyone willing.
In earlier posts I have cautioned against adding online products to your magazine's brand portfolio because other publications seem to succeed at using them. There are strategic reasons for all online products but they may not fit your requirements. For example, blogs are fantastic web site traffic builders that can lift site traffic and thus rates. But trying to monetize blogs directly by selling sponsorships on them is typically much harder.
This weeks Economist turns that same analysis to social networking and comes up with a similar cautionary tale:
"The big internet and media companies have bid up the implicit valuations of MySpace, Facebook and others. But that does not mean there is a working revenue model. Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, recently admitted that Google's “social networking inventory as a whole” was proving problematic and that the “monetization work we were doing there didn't pan out as well as we had hoped.” Google has a contractual agreement with News Corp to place advertisements on its network, MySpace, and also owns its own network, Orkut. Clearly, Google is not making money from either.
Facebook, now allied to Microsoft, has fared worse. Its grand attempt to redefine the advertising industry by pioneering a new approach to social marketing, called Beacon, failed completely. Facebook's idea was to inform a user's friends whenever he bought something at certain online retailers, by running a small announcement inside the friends' “news feeds”. In theory, this was to become a new recommendation economy, an algorithmic form of word of mouth. In practice, users rebelled and privacy watchdogs cried foul. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, admitted in December that “we simply did a bad job with this release” and apologized.
So it is entirely conceivable that social networking, like web-mail, will never make oodles of money. That, however, in no way detracts from its enormous utility. Social networking has made explicit the connections between people, so that a thriving ecosystem of small programs can exploit this “social graph” to enable friends to interact via games, greetings, video clips and so on."
In response to my last post that showed how Hilary Clinton's "Red Phone" ad is based on a common media sales technique, I got a question, "What should I do when I am on the receiving end of the "fear card" or similar attack?"
When a competitor attacks...say. "Thank you!" Often they have handed you a gun to shoot them with. Whether the attack is the "fear card" or another approach the steps to respond are they same. The bigger and grander the attack, the bigger the advantage has been handed to you.
First, get a document of the attack; a promotional brochure, email, web post etc. You will need it so you can go line by line as you counter it.
Second, Initially, you need to react emotionally. Why emotionally? Because if the "fear card" is emotional, and you cannot rationalized emotion away. If you respond without feeling, on some emotional level you are saying the fear or criticism is OK.
Also, at the heart of every successful media sale is the passion for what you sell. No passion, no sale. If you are passionate about your media and someone takes a shot at it, if you stay completely calm how genuine does that passion look? Don't display any anger that feels unnatural. Your reaction needs to be genuine you, no forced hysterics. I use a simple, "They said WHAT? Do you know how CRAZY that is? I can't believe they would tell you that!"
From the campaign trail, Bill Clinton has recently been ridiculed in the press for his "angry red faced finger wagging" responses to perceived attacks. He may look odd on on the news clips but his technique is sound. I fear that Barack Obama's cool response to some of Clinton's early attacks may not serve him well long term.
Third: ask about the damage. Ask if the "fear card" or criticism changed their attitude or raised concerns about your product. The "fear card" only sticks where they are doubts. Ask your client to share those doubts. Now, counter them.
Fourth: Now, respond to the doubts rationally. Take the print out of the attack and go line by line and show your side of the argument. You need to win over your client or, at the very least, prove that your side has at equal merit.
Fifth: Now, go offensive. Label your competitors approach as "sales technique" designed to manipulate feelings. No buyer likes to feel manipulated or played for a fool. Raise questions as to why a competitor might do this; desperation? Disrespect for the intelligence of the media buyer?
Sixth: Now, depending how well you have turned this around, see if you can't build some emotional resentment in your client from the attack. If you really have won over your client, ask, "Now that you can see the other point of view you can see how manipulative this was. (With a smile) How dumb to they think you must be to fall for this?"
No buyer likes to think of them selves as having been "had" by a manipulative sales attack. If you can win them back they will often harbor resentment for the competitor who initiated the attack and be suspicious of them for a long time.
Many credit Hilary Clinton's Presidential Primary wins in Ohio and Texas to her controversial "Red Phone" ad designed to raise doubts about Barack Obama's experience on national security.
Despicable sleaze? Clever politics? Love the ad or or hate it, what I saw was a common sales tactic that every media sales rep uses at some time in their career.
When you sell a product where the outcome cannot be predicted, like a presidential candidate or a media buy, raising doubts about your competition, aka "playing the fear card," is an effective way to win business.
On your next sales call
If you are in a competitive sell where you have the more established, better known, or widely accepted product you can ask "what if" questions to raise doubts about your competition in the mind of your media buyer. Clinton's ad raised asked "what if" an inexperienced president got a 3 AM Red Phone crisis dropped in his lap.
Media questions you can use to raise doubts about competition:
"What if your ad campaign fails because you did not cover a key demographic (that my media covers better)?"
"What if your ad campaign fails because you bought the cheaper media whose circulation is poor?"
"What if you ad campaign fails because you bought the cheaper media upstart instead of the media with the proven track recored?"
And if the media buy is very high profile...
"This is an important media buy. If it fails a lot of people could get hurt. Hey, remember the old saying from the 80's computer industry , "No one gets fired for buying IBM."
Don't push too hard. If your "sales technique" shows you will be branded as a manipulative huckster. To play the fear card you stoke the latent anxieties of your buyer but never overtly say the anxiety is totally justified. After you leave their office you just want them to worry about their media buy if it isn't with you.
Not my 14 year old, Jenni, who (with profound apologies to GL magazine) found a way to interact with that publication in a way that is...well, meaningful for a 14 year old.
Magazines, and most print media, are more personal because you can hold them in your hands. From here interactivity can take on many forms; physical coupons, tear outs, inserts, pop ups, contest entry forms, and blow ins. There is a physical interactivity that comes from the act flipping pages. There is a lot of interactivity that comes from the more personal physical connection that only print can make...even for a 14 year old!
On a sales call, how do you answer this question? Many media reps jump into a canned pitch about the power of their print originated brand franchise and how their website extends the franchise online.
Media buyers, are driven by "What's in if it for me," and the best print brand does not guarantee online results.
The online word is results and measurement driven. You have to explain the functional benefit behind your online media first. Then go one to explain how this function can generate measurable results. Start with an explanation of what your website or online media DOES for it's visitors.
A great post on today's "Online Metrics Insider" lays out a guide for categorizing the functional benefit of a website for people who measure web performance. They need this as much as we do. If you can't functionally define a web visitor benefit you cannot evaluate a web sites result, nor can you explain the advertising benefit of that site to a media buyer.
From the post:
Your Web site exists for a purpose, perhaps multiple purposes, such as:
Providing information or data. Many sites entice people to visit for access to valuable, differentiated information or data. Traffic is then monetized primarily through site advertising. Many internal and external analytics packages will tell you where visitors come from and what they do on site, which, when combined with demographic information, can be used to qualify a specific audience to an advertiser.
Generating leads. A content asset is placed on a site and gated using a form. People fill out the form and download the asset. The information captured in the form is stored and used by the company that generated the leads or profitably sold to another company.
Selling products. The typical e-commerce model involves acquiring customers via some method or offer, providing a product catalog or landing page, and creating a strong call to action and funnel that persuades people to purchase a product.
Connecting people. The explosion of social networking sites where people connect to other people, interact with each other, and use widgets, apps, and data services, is a modern phenomenon in which many of us participate.
One of the best ways to monetize your online media is to integrate it with your print to hold a contest. The formula works because contests invite "reader response" which advertisers see as "customer response."
Both print and web work extremely well as contest announcement vehicles but after that their different strengths separate. Contest entry processing is handled on the web--the print contest entry forms of old are fading away. But print remains the preferred announcement vehicle for winners. Calling all egomaniacs...when you win don't you want something you can hold in your hands and show your friends at a party or frame and put on your wall?. Tough to do if the winners are just posted on a website.
Integrated media is also a great way to involve advertisers. Typically to tap for the prizes. But in so doing something creating value that you can you can charge for, Heres how; people who enter a contest to win a prize are interested in owning that prize. Everyone registers but not everyone wins. After you give away the prize what you have left is database of people who still want the prize/product but don't own it. A dream database for any advertiser.
ON your next call consider if a contest might involve some of the advertisers you call on.
There are many ways to structure advertiser involvement into contests. Media Bistro has a great pile of them on them website, a link is below:
You gotta love it! Here is a print ad for McDonald's Big 'n' Juicy Burger that uses almost no ad copy and a lot of paper to communicate how their bigger hamburgers need bigger napkins to handle them. The double page spread was printed on napkin paper and ran in Sweden's Metro newspaper to promote the idea. Is paper based ad messaging dead? I don't think so!