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Multimedia Product Development Tip: How to Spend Less and Get More

How to improve multimedia product development and create a blockbuster media product before you launch

If your goal in life is to find out what your customers value—ask them.

To make my case, let me introduce you to Green Gardens Network. If you’re new to Mequoda, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with Green Gardens Network (GGN), our composite case study, and CEO Rose Harper, the embodiment of all our clients whose “example” we use as a teaching tool without revealing real publishers’ names or data.

Now imagine that Rose Harper, a multiplatform publisher, is considering launching some new products to her primary target audience of women between the ages of 45-65 who garden as a primary hobby. She’s financially ready to move forward on multimedia product development, but she’s not entirely sure which ones to launch. What she’s thinking, is that she’d like to launch a product called Green Gardens University, a series of either articles, podcasts, or videos. She’s not sure which platform would attract the most subscribers.

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Rather than guessing about which multimedia product development avenue to go with, or going on gut, as her consultant, we’d tell Rose to do some preliminary research that involves asking her existing audience what they want. And it can be run as simply as a survey through a service like SurveyMonkey or something similar.

Rose would email her list and ask them if they want to be part of a research panel about future content that her producers are working on. When participants opt into the panel, Rose would separate them into groups evenly, and let’s say that number is 500.

From there, Rose would send an email to the panel in each segment, asking them to review a new product, which might be a podcast about how to plant roses, and spend 5-7 minutes on a series of questions. Here’s an example of what this survey might look like:

Please take five minutes to listen to the podcast below on planting azaleas. Once you’ve completed the podcast, please answer the three questions at the bottom of the page. Your responses are very important to us as you represent thousands of gardeners who will ultimately have the opportunity to subscribe to this content.

podcast player graphic

When thinking about the above podcast:

How interesting was the content for you and your lifestyle?

[ ] Not interesting | [ ] Somewhat interesting | [ ] Very interesting

 How useful would the content be for you and your gardening friends?

 [ ] Not useful | [ ] Somewhat useful | [ ] Very useful

How much content would you like to receive that is similar to the above podcast in both topic and format?

 [ ] None | [ ] Some | [ ] A lot

The thing about surveys is that when you ask three questions, generally the only one that matters is number three.

Does the user want podcasts about azaleas? It’s like when you’re sitting at the table and your grandmother asks you if you like her meatloaf. Of course you say yes, she’s grandma. But when she offers you another slice, do you take it?

That’s the point of question three — even if they found it interesting and useful, do they want more of it?

How responses to a survey should be judged during multimedia product development

Answers should be measured by the Likert scale. A Likert scale rates how intense a person feels in their level of agreement, or disagreement with a statement.

So for example, a five-item Likert scale may include 3 main emotions, but would also allow the user to pick an emotion somewhere in between, too.

Let’s take this survey question as an example:

How much content would you like to receive that is similar to the above podcast in both topic and format?

 [ ] None …. [ ] …. [ ] Some … [ ] …  [ ] A lot

In this case:

  • None would score 0 on 100 point index
  • Between none and some would score 25 on a 100 point index
  • Some would score 50 or neutral on a 100 point index
  • Between some and a lot would score 75 on a 100 point index
  • A lot would score 100 on a 100 point index

On the Likert scale, you give the customer five choices, of which two are considered negative, two are considered positive and one is considered neutral. It’s then translated into a 100 point index that we can use to judge product engagement and desirability.

What we know about multiplatform content, is that anything that scores an average of 90 or above is blockbuster content and it will have substantial retention rates and engagement rates. Any content that scores 90 or above should also be at the lead of your marketing programs because it clearly resonates with your audience.

Any score in the 80’s is still a great score. Once you get a score in the 60-70’s, you may want to reconsider launching the product. And anything below 60 you should nix, because there simply isn’t enough interest.

The many variations of this survey for multimedia product development

Let’s say you’ve determined through some preliminary quantitative research that the three topics you should focus on first are roses, azaleas and tulips. And some of the most popular topics are those on how to plant, how to water, and how to prune.

What you don’t know, is what platforms your audience wants to learn about those topics on.

So you want to verify what you’ve learned, by conducting qualitative research. You could come up with up to 27 different test panels to determine what people want, and how they want it.

Roses Azaleas Tulips
Article Growing Growing Growing
Video Growing Growing Growing
Podcast Growing Growing Growing
Article Watering Watering Watering
Video Watering Watering Watering
Podcast Watering Watering Watering
Article Pruning Pruning Pruning
Video Pruning Pruning Pruning
Podcast Pruning Pruning Pruning

The answers you might want to know by the end of your survey, are:

Most people who want to know about how to water roses, prefer an article.

When learning about pruning azaleas, people prefer watching a video.

And when finding out how to grow tulips, people enjoy a podcast.

Ideally, you’ll find some commonality that helps you determine if most of your audience prefers to learn through articles, video, or podcasts. Of course, since you’re testing separately and not against one another, you may find that all three are products worth pursuing.

This practice is quite common with publishers. It’s what Chris Kimball at America’s Test Kitchen always did. Every recipe was tested in his test kitchen, but also sent ideas to a panel of subscribers that would tell them their interest in the recipes, on the same Likert scale. Now with his new venture called Milk Street, which runs a similar business model to the ATK that Chris grew from infancy, he runs a test kitchen as well.

And in Rose’s world, we have plenty of topics to cover, but she’s simply puzzled about what platform is most desireable for consuming her type of content. Instead of spending $100,000 or more to create a prototype, she spends a little time on research first and spends that money to create products that her data shows will increase her audience, revenue and profits.

Are you on the verge of a multimedia product development project? Let’s talk about how you can turn one product into several, while improving audience, revenue and profits at the same time. When you become a Mequoda Gold Member, you begin a transformational journey to multiplatform publishing success. And it all starts with Mequoda’s experienced planning team working with you to create a detailed, bulletproof five-year business plan – a comprehensive map that takes you successfully into the 21st century.

Leave a comment below to tell us what multimedia products have worked best for your magazine brand.

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