Cover Story: The Search for Profitable Publishing
The print magazine focused on "strategic," thought-provoking business journalism, Lefens explains. "We increased trim size, amount of original photography and paper quality to leverage the best of what print can offer. We now have four years of outside research showing a 10-percent increase in time readers spend with the magazine."
But the changes the company made went beyond content and Web strategy, and addressed what marketers today expect from publishing partners. "On the sales side, we dismantled our geographical territories," he notes. "Our best customers wanted the competitive advantage of rolling up fully integrated media programs containing print, Web, webinars and event sponsorship. But this is a complicated business. So we assigned our most consultative sales people to the 'A' customers and reduced the number of accounts these reps handle from around 200 to about 45," he says. "The rest of the sales staff, based on their abilities and seniority, handle the 'B' and 'C' accounts."
This year, Lefens says his company will test paid content for its U.S. and Latin American publications, Web sites and webinars. "Content-centric publishers with good metrics and strong reader franchises are in the best position to make the move, but everyone's waiting for the first guy to jump in the pool. The … industry should build a shrine to Rupert Murdoch for so publicly preparing the way."
Profiting From Partnerships
One way that consultant Lou Ann Sabatier, principal, Sabatier Consulting, suggests publishers venture into new revenue territories while minimizing risk is partnering with others—whether related publications or other media, organizations, retailers, advertisers, academic institutions, etc.
"Would you rather have 50 cents on a dollar [split with your partner] you never had … versus not having the 50 cents? It is the best way I can tell people to realistically bridge this gap into new revenue streams," she says.