11 Tips to Successfully Balance a Print and Digital Portfolio
In an economic climate in which every resource must be maximized, magazine publishers continue to look for cost-effective ways to create and maintain portfolios of both print and digital products. And, as demand increases for digital products and publishers focus more heavily on interactive offerings such as digital editions, e-newsletters, webinars and social media-rich Web sites, balancing the resources—money, time, materials and staff—needed to maintain a myriad of products can be challenging.
Experienced publishers shared with Publishing Executive the following tips on how to successfully manage a portfolio of both print and digital components, without sacrificing the quality and viability of each individual product.
1. Listen to your audience.
Successfully balancing a portfolio of print and digital products requires an in-depth knowledge of what your audience wants. By asking your audience key questions, and listening closely to their answers, publishers can optimize and fine-tune their offerings to give readers a more customized experience. “We asked where our audience was engaging the most with us,” says Tony Uphoff, CEO of California-based TechWeb, publisher of InformationWeek and a division of United Business Media. “Then, we thought through how our audience integrated media and print, and allocated our resources based on that.” By understanding how your audience uses print, and how they do so in the context of other media, can help you better define how to use resources effectively.
2. Do your research.
Many publishers recognize that digital products are becoming more and more pivotal to the publishing world, as audiences demand more interactive outlets for news and entertainment. “Publishers have to redefine what print is in an online-centric world and set your quality metrics around that,” says Uphoff. “We did research studies to determine how print, online and live media were used in the purchase process, not only by product category, but also by job function, in the markets we serve.” Publishers who take time to research what content should be offered in print, what should be offered online, and what will work collectively can achieve a deeper level of audience engagement.
3. Concentrate your business on the Internet.
Many publications today are seeing the future of their businesses shift more toward the Internet. For Christopher Ruddy, editor of Newsmax.com and Newsmax magazine, the future is the Internet. “Publishers should start thinking that their businesses are really Web-based, and their magazine is an adjunct to that,” he says. “The Internet is the way we get most of our subscribers and promote our magazine.” In other words, magazine publishers today should think more in terms of the Internet as their primary business with a print component to it. “We think of the Web as the main hub for our publishing company, and our magazine helps build our community and our brand,” Ruddy says.
4. Build a community on the Web.
By offering free and useful content to readers on a Web site, publishers can build a community of readers who are more inclined to subscribe to their print magazine or other revenue-generating offers. Ruddy recommends offering free Web content with shorter, simpler stories that appeal to the targeted magazine audience. “Then, constantly offer readers the opportunity to subscribe to the magazine through free gifts, links or banner ads,” he says. “Publishers will be surprised at how many people will sign up as a result of going to that free Web site.”