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Step Back and Take a 1,000 Foot View of Your Business

“You live and die by your ability to prioritize. You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay or skip the rest.” Those are the wise words of Jessica Jackley, co-founder of the successful micro-loan startup, Kiva. And Eli Broad, 185th wealthiest person in the world, and the only person we know of who has built two Fortune 500 companies in two different industries confirms prioritizing and delegating simply isn’t done enough. “The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels,” says Broad.

In today’s Strategy Spotlight, Don Nicholas, Chairman & CEO of Mequoda explains why keeping website development in-house is a huge disadvantage for any publishing company.

Quick Strategy Tip of the Day from Don


When a publisher comes to us, they’re most often looking for a blueprint and a plan for turning their single print publication into a multiplatform website and suite of products. A big part of this process is prioritization, and determining what can be delegated.

And to do this, you must take a step back and try to look at your business from 1,000 feet up.

A huge part that legacy publishers tend to forget, because they’re sinking in the quicksand of the janky old content management systems, is that automation can cost-effectively remove much of your delegation woes. And what needs to be delegated can be streamlined using less man hours by simply upgrading old tools.

Let’s take a look back. When we launched the Mequoda CXMS for a craft magazine publisher several years ago, their circulation had been in a slow decline for almost a decade. At their height they had 110k paid circulation, but by the time they came to us they were down to 85k. They were profitable still, but clearly heading in the wrong direction.

It’s the same old story we always hear. Newsstand sales were down, which lead to a decrease in insert cards in the newsstands, and their direct mail program had been reduced by about 60% from 10 years earlier.

They weren’t clueless though, in fact far from it. They knew that they were willing to spend $35 to get a new subscriber to a $35 product. They would spend first-year profitability and on a spend of $320,000 over the course of five years, they were making money on user revenues around $385,000. So they were profitable. It’s not unusual for a publisher to use this cutoff on spending to make back what you’ll earn in renewals.

Now enter the Mequoda System, and 5 years later they’re not doing direct mail at all. In fact, they’re now generating more than 20,000 new subscriptions annually at less than what they were spending on direct mail in the past. Over that same 5 year period it reversed the decline and circulation is now at 125,000, an all time high, which is higher than their 110,000 from before. Marketing spend has been reduced in half to $180,000, while user revenues doubled to $735,000. So costs are down and profits are up.

The only major change they made was moving to a Mequoda System. The system gave them and their team the structure, while consulting with us gave them the roadmap and discipline to use their system to its fullest. With their cost savings on direct mail, our craft publisher allocated 40% of their savings to a new product line, and now 39% of their revenue is magazine subscriptions, while the rest is diversified into other products like events, books and sponsorships. They’re generating 1.1 million in product and sponsorship sales when neither revenue stream even existed before. All in, they’re generating about $1.8 million on a $450,000 spend.

Want to get in on this action? 

Mequoda can create a complete business plan and 5-year financial model for you that will leave you with much less doubt about your future. From there, we can turn your plan into reality by building a customized Mequoda System which includes strategic training for you and your whole team. Schedule a 30-minute call with Don to ask your most pressing questions.

Posted in Multiplatform Publishing Strategy

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