An age old problem. The media world is changing and the entire publishing world is suffering. The subscriptions for traditional print media are going downhill and people are not willing to pay for online content. As a consequence of the difficult situation, the media has started making free online content less free. First by setting up paywalls for online content, and more recently by selling subscriptions to electronic publications which look exactly the same as the traditional print publication, with ads and all included. And of course limiting the free online content, “because it’s cannibalizing our business”.
It seems that none of that is working very well, but why? After all the information and news offering available today, people have so many possibilities when choosing where to get the content from and how to consume it. If you get the same content for free, why would you pay for it? Someone always offers most of the content free. At least if the content is casual, generic content, copied from some other source.
Solution stems from the basics
There are three different types of journalistic content categories that people consume:
News content. This is generic, short, available first and consumed only once. Typically served and consumed “everywhere” from screens in the public transport, to a feed on your mobile device. Content is being produced by news agencies and aggregated by major news outlets such as CNN, BBC, YLE, HS, Al-Jazeera and likes. Oh, and then it’s being “quoted” by thousands of others. Worth paying something if you get it fast, good, easy and everywhere.
Deep expert content. This is typically specific content for a certain topic. Some magazines such as Harward Business Review are doing a great job with in-depth content around their selected topics. Well worth paying for, right?
(Hyper)local content. Any content that is interesting to the local community. What happens in your own neighbourhood. Something that the rest of the world has no interest. Thousands of publications that support their own and unite people. Also worth paying to know what’s going on at home.
Choose your content category
In order to have good and wanted content, you need to be the best choice for the consumer in one of the categories. Or at least get to be shortlisted.
You should choose the positioning for the content. Are we going to be the leader in the news content, the best expert in a chosen topic or the chosen local publisher? It’s unlikely that anyone can be all three at the same time.
Rethink your primary channel
Once you are close to achieve the chosen content position, start thinking the best delivery method from the beginning. If your target readers have 80% penetration for mobile data, put priority in producing the best, fastest and most in-depth content there. If you can deliver the content for 90% of your community by printing them copies when they head out to their daily chores, make it happen. If you need to use two channels to reach most of your audience, put them both in equal priority position.
Do not plan or deliver any channels just because they are trendy or everyone does it. You have the best content and the most convenient channel. Why divide resources and focus to anything else?
For the same reason, if you have existing channels that really doesn’t reach your audience, start a quick exit plan for that channel. You can’t win with it.
Turn the earning structure upside down
Now, since you own the best content and channel, you have all the attributes to be number one on the shortlist.
#1 publisher can ask money from the consumers, since they are providing the best value to the customer. Put a premium price for your priority channel. There is a price fit, you probably need to do some research and testing to find out the right level.
No need to perform lock-in
Many subscription businesses are selling with all kinds of lock-in sales models. You don’t need to do that because you are the best. Be open, allow people to try something else. This will make the joining easy. If you are good enough but they leave, they will come back eventually. This will strengthen the leader position and make you even stronger.
Then you only need marketing
So, you are the best, most convenient, easiest to join and no-strings-atteched content publisher. Now you need customers.
This should be easy. Just make yourself known among your target audience by caring about them and sharing to them. Use your content creation skills to make yourself a topic for discussion.
And the rest is history…
Do you think I’m crazy? Do you know I’m wrong? That’s ok. Join the discussion in re-inventing the media monetization.
I love to be proven wrong. A challenge.