You Get What You Pay For
INBOX: Why has The Deal been so successful in this arena?
LONIER: The Deal has been entrepreneurial from its beginnings 10 years ago, supported by patient investors. It also has a unique set of proprietary content that when repositioned—i.e., transformed—within The Deal's market, found greatly increased value in its users' workflows.
The Deal identified a transformational strategy focused on unlocking its proprietary content value, supportable by its resources and culture, so it was able to execute across editorial, sales, marketing, operations and technology.
INBOX: How can publishers take advantage of existing media channels to optimize their paid content offerings?
LONIER: The answer varies by publisher, product and market. It's difficult to transcend long-standing price points and audience perceptions about who a company is and what it does without a transformative go-to-market product plan. Even with a significant transformational product and message, publishers need to overcome their own heritage brand, either with an expansive product or expanded audience, in order to increase yield.
Transformational paid content, as opposed to incrementally enhanced paid content, is almost a new channel itself by definition. So its relation to existing channels can be problematic. Free online content competes with paid content. Unless the content is very proprietary and used in free sample quantities, it's difficult to use free content to drive users to paid content. Webinars can build brand in a marketplace, but typically are a marketing, lead-gen service to sponsors. So again, the link to paid content can be tenuous. For print, study the Bloomberg Markets magazine model.
INBOX: What challenges present themselves for publishers rolling out paid content models for the first time?
LONIER: The biggest challenge is getting people to buy it! It has to have a value to users that overrides the ever-increasing noise in the digital world, and the ever-increasing value of the "free" content available there. Think niche … and niche for people who are willing to spend money for valuable information they can use to make more money in their businesses. If the user won't pay, then necessarily you need to identify someone who will.