Media Adviser: 10 Tips for Creating Your Strategic Plan
Given the current economic and media-industry environment, the best advice I can provide to publishers is to update your strategic plan—now. And if you don't have one, then develop one. Why? In case you haven't noticed, profound changes are happening in consumer behavior, information needs and information-consumption behavior that are affecting your business. The marketplace is dynamic and highly volatile, with your competitors trying to re-invent themselves in order to gain an advantage.
Your strategic plan may cover lots of important topics, but it needs to specifically address the most important current issues and opportunities that are affecting your business. It doesn't need to be complex, but it should:
➊ Clearly define your target audience. In fact, you should begin to view your audience as a constituency of current and future customers that want to engage with your brand. Cater to your core customers, and carefully define your new-customer acquisition targets and how you will engage with all of your customers.
➋ Be clear about your brand promise to your customers. Know and deliver on what they expect. Think about the products in your portfolio from the perspective of how they help your customers, what unique benefits they provide. And, make sure that the delivery of your products or services is consistent across all media platforms (print, Web, digital editions, mobile, video, etc.).
Create, package and deliver content that delivers clear value to your customers. Whether your content is uniquely created by you, curated, or generated by your users, make sure that it satisfies a need and exceeds the expectations of your readers.
➌ Optimize your product portfolio so that it delivers solutions for your customers and delivers the results that your company needs. Make sure to balance your priorities to include proper attention to your mature products, while investing in new products and services.
➍ Price your products and services so that they are competitive and match your customers' value expectation for the medium in which they are provided. It may be more difficult to command premium prices in various digital media platforms. For example, print and digital editions of a publication may have similar price points for single issues and subscriptions, but consumer price expectations for mobile products are generally much lower—if not free.
➎ Develop your products across all appropriate media platforms (print, Web, digital editions, mobile, video, social). Publishers now must truly become multimedia, and be sure to offer your products digitally.
➏ Seek continuous innovation for your products, business models and operations. Never settle. It is often difficult to focus on innovation while trying to manage your current product portfolio. Innovation takes time and investment, but the payoff can be significant.
➐ Fine tune your marketing programs and push for breakthrough creative and operational performance. Continue to test new creative designs and offers that will improve your retention and new-customer-acquisition performance. And continue to find ways to reduce your cost of customer acquisition and retention.
➑ Be social. If you don't have a social media game plan, then develop one—or be left out. Consumers are increasingly focused on engagement with your brands and other readers. Make sure that you can facilitate this interaction. The short-term return on investment may be difficult to see, but the longer-term impact on your business could be substantial.
➒ Streamline your operations: organization structure, operational processes and decision making. And don't forget to do what it takes to develop your most important assets—your staff.
➓ Set realistic financial goals. Manage your margins, invest in growth opportunities and have patience (easier said than done).
Try to make your strategic plan as simple as possible. It easily can become too complex. Set a few, significant and tangible goals that you can achieve with some significant stretch. Get your employees involved in developing your plan. If they are involved in the process, then they will understand it, embrace it and make it happen. PE
John Sateja is president of Treetop Media Group, a media strategy, marketing and innovation company. He is an award-winning digital media innovator and marketer, and the former executive vice president for Consumer Reports. During his 11-year tenure at Consumer Reports, Sateja doubled revenue and subscription performance for its $230-million, nationally branded consumer media portfolio, including Consumer Reports magazine and ConsumerReports.org, the largest paid-subscription site on the Internet.