BoSacks - The Profit Prophet: Your Benchmarks for Survival
Clearly we are in a moment in history that I expect we all wish we were looking back on rather than living through. The Great Depression, which our grandfathers and great-grandfathers lived through, was not an easy time for anyone. But unlike the Great Depression, today the publishing community has been hit with a triple whammy in that we were already under attack by technology demons before the economic foundation of our advertising base was pulled out from under us, and at the same time, we were placed under an ecologic microscope. Technology, economics and ecology would be hard to fight individually, but en masse it will take great stewardship to survive the treacherous terrain. What we need now are some ambitious survival plans for our future. As an industry, we eventually will survive just fine. The industry’s individual components are what are in great peril. Will magazines exist in five years? Absolutely! Will they be yours? Of that, I cannot say.
So what to do? I believe that, in times like these, the answer is not to reinvent the wheel and try to broaden the appeal of your product, but rather to get back to the basics and rediscover what exactly made your product special and valuable in the first place. What was your magazine’s original mission statement? Can you articulate in one sentence who and what you are? If you can’t, get out and close the door behind you.
It is time to do what we do best. Produce the best content on the planet. Each and every title out there needs to engage in some introspection and justify its existence.
Think about the following questions:
- We’re the very best at what we do because … ?
- We produce the best, most sought-after content because our editors … ?
- Our content is better than anyone’s in the field because we … ?
- Readers love our titles because we give them what no one else gives them, which is … ?
If you can’t answer those questions honestly and realistically, I don’t believe you can survive. Those who can answer them should then begin the process of besting their best work. That is the benchmark for survival. You need to concentrate on creating the best, most meaningful edit in the entire history of your magazine, each and every issue.
You need to create addictive, must-read content. You must have a deep understanding of your readership’s needs and desires. There is no other choice for your survival. Most magazines have competitors, and they are reading this article, too.
I implore you to question each page and each sidebar you produce, and justify why they’re worthy of publication. If you can achieve that level of excellence, you will have the best chance to keep your magazine and job intact, and be successful.
New methods of delivery, technologies and delivery substrates will continue to emerge. But none of that will mean a hill of beans if you don’t have the very best personal relationship with your readers—a relationship that’s only achieved with the best-written words possible.
Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a printing/publishing industry consultant and president of Precision Media Group (BoSacks.com). He is also the co-founder of the research company mediaIDEAS (MediaIdeas.net), and publisher and editor of a daily international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web. Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, circulator and almost every other job this industry has to offer.