Recently, we sat down with Charity Huff, CEO of January Spring, to talk about some of the biggest revenue ideas we’ve seen in publishing this year. Charity works with magazine and newspaper publishers across the country to develop multimedia digital and print advertising strategies that sell. As such, she’s seen a lot of different approaches to the same question we all have: How can publishers combine print and digital into a success story for their advertisers?
As we dived into this question, we discussed several publishers who are raking in revenue during a time of unprecedented crisis. In the true spirit of an unscripted Publishing Success chat, we’ll leave out the identity of the publishers we discuss. (Subscribe to our video series to learn more about some of these publishers and their strategies!)
Idea #1: Become an All-in-One Marketing Shop
The first publisher we’ll examine started as a print magazine and quickly expanded into multiple titles. From there, they started to roll out marketing agency services for local businesses. This has allowed them to harness the marketing budgets of their advertisers and keep it all under their roof—print budget, video budget, and digital budget. Charity says this is a great example of a publisher “listening to advertisers and businesses in their market and understanding what businesses need next.”
Where from here? Advertisers are already asking this publisher about over-the-top streaming video and audio streaming services. This works—because the creative team is already producing audio/visual content for the clients. Now, they can run it on new platforms and absorb more budget from traditional broadcast media.
With this approach, this example publisher saw little impact from COVID. This could also be in part to their sales team. They have doubled down on near-constant sales training as they develop a consultative approach that helps solve business challenges with their entire arsenal of advertising products.
The takeaway: Embrace new products (especially those in the digital marketing space) and figure out how to sell them alongside your legacy products. Invest in year-round training for sales reps to keep their skills sharp. Sell with a consultative approach that integrates your entire roster of services.
Idea #2: Lean, Mean, and Focused on Growth
Some of the highest performing publishers we’ve seen over the past year have been relative newcomers to the scene. The next publisher we’ll talk about embraces a small team approach. And it’s paid off big. In fact, they actually turned more profit in 2020 than they did in 2019. Here’s how.
First, this team embraces a unique sales approach. They focus on their key verticals and what works year-round to drive business. This means they’ve ditched the issue-based sales pitch for a long-term contract focus. The result is a steady stream of recurring revenue and a net profit that outshines some publishers 3 times their size. This long-term focus has insulated them from the “bumps in the road” from factors such as fluctuating tourism numbers.
To embrace a small team, lean-and-mean approach to publishing, you have to know your margins. This team is laser focused on their accounting metrics. To do this, you need software that can deliver the reporting necessary to create intentional long-term plans for their advertisers. (If you aren’t already using QuickBooks Online for your accounting, it’s an absolute game changer!)
Idea #3: Own Your Local Market
Over the past year, we’ve noticed a trend among the publishers we work with: market size doesn’t matter when it comes to success.
For one particular publisher, their market is around 60,000 people. Yet their sales team puts up huge numbers with consistency. The reason? They are focused on the customers they want to service, rather than limiting themselves to the types of customers that a normal publisher would chase.
Charity explains, “Rather than say, ‘Here’s my 5% of the pie,’ these guys say, ‘This is the pie we should service.’ They build a targeting list, and they go after the marketing budget. And these [outside-the-box] businesses renew!’”
When you chase new opportunities in a smaller market, you bring home a bigger share of the pie!
Another small market publisher has owned their place in the community with a service focus. They’ve entrenched themselves in charity, businesses, and even public health. For example, during COVID, they produced content that helped readers know where to get masks, how to get vaccinated, and more. “They worked with the county and employers to get it off the ground,” says Charity. “And it’s making a huge difference in the community.”
Charity sees this win as proof that the right people and the right approach can net big results. And, as discussed in our Publishing Success series with Ross Furukawa, it can help you create custom publishing with economic advisory boards and government entities.
Get More Revenue Ideas for Publishers in 2021
The past few years have been transformational in publishing. From the use of automation technology to the push toward digital products, publishers are able to do more with less. But, with all of the platforms available, success still comes down to good ideas and the willingness to implement them.
Our Publishing Success series highlights winning revenue ideas for publishers and commentary from today's innovative magazine and newspaper publishers. Check out our recent releases and subscribe to get notifications for new and upcoming episodes!