Back to the Basics: Five Steps for Creating User-Centric Products

Publishing companies customarily operate a single website, with free content organized into various product or service areas.

The Mequoda System of content management advocates breaking up the single website into a Mequoda Internet Hub and several independent, yet interrelated, Mequoda Website Satellite sites.

The Internet hub, a central repository of free content, provides a systematic way to generate both a robust customer database and a rich databank of content. The satellite sites offer products or content targeted to specific customer groups.

Organizing content around the customer directly relates to the concept of strategic management, to empowering employees and users.

The idea is to create many user-centered products and, in doing so, extend the Mequoda Pyramid to generate more revenue from increasingly targeted customers who are willing to pay a progressively higher price per item.

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Here’s the progression to follow to create user-centered products:

1. Discover your audience’s common information needs.
The first step for publishers is to figure out the common needs of your audience. Identify what interests them, what they want to learn, what they want to buy—basically, what they are looking to your site to produce for them.

2. Build an Internet hub with valuable content.

Then, build a free website—an Internet hub—filled with valuable, useful content that fills those audience needs—management tips, case studies, product reviews, news analyses, etc., inside information your customers deem valuable, and give that core content away for free.

3. Invite visitors to subscribe to a free email newsletter.
Add value to the site experience by inviting visitors to your hub to subscribe to a free email newsletter, perhaps sign up for a free RSS feed or otherwise sign up for something where they surrender an email address. This results in a rich database of users with whom you now have a relationship.

4. Mine the resulting database with revenue-generating offers.
Mine the names in your database to direct targeted users to your satellite sites, where you can sell relevant products of increasing value: a paid newsletter, a premium membership website, a book or report, a conference or event, etc. You are then in a position to derive a hefty ROI from what initially you gave away for free.

5. “Re” system of publishing: recycle, reuse, republish.
Each bit of information given away for free should become a unit of content with several lives—created once and used, repackaged and reused many times and monetized over and over again. In this “re” system of publishing—recycle, reuse, republish—a publisher also uses content written for, deployed to and even contributed by readers to create additional products. Further, the content can be used for marketing purposes rather than spending money on costly media such as direct-mail lists, television ads, billboards, pay-per-click, etc.

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