E&P column: It’s about the money

By Steve Outing

My latest Editor & Publisher Online column is up: “Need to Make Profits Online? It CAN Be Done.”

It’s a follow-up to my previous E&P column, which advised newspaper CEOs on 11 key strategies to reinvent their enterprises. But since I didn’t focus so much on the money angle in that column, this time I tried to put my head around how the suggested adaptations by a newspaper company to survive in the digital age can be used to boost revenues.

There’s no silver-bullet solution (I only wish I was that smart), but I hope newspaper folks will find some useful ideas in the column.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

5 Responses to "E&P column: It’s about the money"

  1. Dave Chase
    Dave Chase 8 years ago .Reply

    Some very useful and strategic advice. There’s a more tactical take on the site David Cohn and Jeff Jarvis put together coming from a sales-focused person (me). Read http://newsinnovation.com/2009/01/03/five-fatal-flaws-that-are-killing-local-internet-plays/ for more.

  2. Steve Groves
    Steve Groves 8 years ago .Reply

    Another element that one must consider is that of commissions paid to the sales reps who must carry out this plan. By and large newspaper sales reps are paid a set commission on the revenues they bring in to the company, with no distinction between print and digital.

    With the digital product still being a much harder ‘sell’, a newspaper’s commission system must be tweaked otherwise there is a built in disincentive to promote the digital product. At this stage in our revolution, the effort-to-compensation ratio is disproportionately in favor of print, especially for long-standing print reps.

    It is no different than the situation faced by journalists; a fundamental shift in the nature of a sales rep’s role and the trepidation that comes along with that shift. We need to ease them through the change with effective training along with changes to the way in which they are compensated.

    @SteveatLFPress

  3. Dave Chase
    Dave Chase 8 years ago .Reply

    SteveG – You make a very important point about compensation. The situation isn’t unique to media. In tech, take a successful sales rep at Oracle and give him some new product that customers don’t fully understand and the sales rep treats it like it’s a toxic substance and won’t sell it.

    There’s an outstanding article that ran in the Harvard Business Review called the Sales Learning Curve by Mark Leslie and Charles Holloway that should be required reading for anyone introducing new products. I put the link in the website box so click on my name to go the summary of the article on HBR and where you can get a download.

    I can say unequivocally that it is one of the most thought provoking articles I’ve read in the sales arena.

  4. Charles Batchelor
    Charles Batchelor 8 years ago .Reply

    The last line of your column is powerful: “By becoming a community-wide information and advertising service, you can get back on the path of increasing revenues.”

    Of course, this means doing a lot of different little things, which you mention at several places.

    The newspaper brand is still powerful. If publishers deploy it into several worthwhile niche products (with good margins), they can make money and build on that brand at the same time. (Every niche product should carry some news and information coming from the newspaper.)

    This is the concept behind our marketing Wuduplz.com to newspapers: Help a worthwhile niche in its marketing by offering a unique message, then link news to it at the same time.

    Excellent article.

  5. Observer
    Observer 8 years ago .Reply

    The difficulties of making money online in the “free” world are highlighted in a WSJ article this weekend:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123335678420235003.html

    “The Economics of Giving It Away”

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