Over the years of attending in-person publishing events, we noticed a trend where a solid portion of the speakers invited to present are vendors and consultants, and a decent number of the attendees are magazine publishing consultants or digital marketing consultants.
But the thing about many of the consultants we meet is that they’re specialists. There’s an email consultant leading the email marketing session, an SEO consultant leading the search session, and a social media consultant leading the Facebook session.
When you’re building a publishing business online, and seeking help from what is likely a variety of consultants, who’s the general contractor that keeps everyone accountable, and keeps the strategy and execution cohesive?
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On the other end of the spectrum, you might also hire a tech provider that doesn’t come with consulting. We had one client who attended one of our live events and tried to build a “Mequoda System” on his own. The development company he partnered up with even told him he could build it. No problem, right? But when the site launched, it was like looking at the back of an old TV – wires everywhere, nothing connecting to what it should, and basically a mess. And once the site was launched, there was no training or support to teach him the system.
This all sounds like a big waste of money, right?
Let’s face it: The era of digital publishing has made things much more complicated. Magazines are in the process of adapting to an ever-growing web-based audience. As a magazine publisher, there’s no question that using digital platforms is the way of the future. But how are you going to make the transition successfully, while running a business?
Hiring a modern magazine publishing consultant is the next logical step. But as you can see, we can tell you that choosing the right one (and only one!) is an important decision. So we’ve put together a checklist to outline what a magazine publishing consultant should be doing for you. We expect a lot out of these consultants, just like we expect a lot of ourselves.
10 services a magazine publishing consultant should be providing your business
1. Compile research for your new online audience
Being in the business of publishing, you already know your target audience. Or you think you do, anyway. Your magazine publishing consultant will create an audience profile through the use of search data, and build a business plan around that information. The Strategic Business Plan Mequoda builds factors in content, audience, revenue goals, technology needs, and even your organizational structure. We project a business over five years, using information we gather from the publisher combined with our proven strategy and benchmark data spanning hundreds of successful and diverse media brands.
2. Train your organization for success
To attain digital publishing success, there needs to be a transparent relationship between you and the consultant. In a perfect situation, they will offer a comprehensive training program covering the foundational changes necessary for a successful transition. This may include organizational changes and restructuring to accommodate an online publishing business model. Here at Mequoda, we offer continual training, and we also host live webinars. When live events can resume again, we may consider a return to hosting annual live events.
Generally, for most consultants, this is where the services stop. Many consultants will set you up for success, and then send you on your merry way. And sometimes that merry way isn’t so merry.
3. Plan for the content you already have
One of the key steps to becoming a multi-platform publisher is understanding the process and benefits of recycling content that already exists. All those back issues you’ve piled in the stockroom for years? Those old PDFs that were only sent to a printer? A savvy magazine publishing consultant knows that every past issue can be put to good use. They will create an in-depth content plan that includes publishing recycled and new content over various platforms, like newsletters, blog posts, videos, etc.
4. Utilize multiple platforms for increased revenue mix
More opportunities for new revenue sources are available for multi-platform publishers. Your consultant will identify how to create new products, explain the different ways to use online advertising, and forecast the costs and risks of investment.
At Mequoda, we put special emphasis on the use of multi-platform publishing and content marketing to create new revenue streams. Too few magazines think about these two avenues, but both have helped hundreds of our client brands attract more website visitors, convert them into subscribers, continually engage them, and finally monetize their loyalty to the brand.
5. Organize your efforts under one roof
When some magazines transition into multi-platform, they make the crucial mistake of hiring too many service providers. Keeping track of each one is stressful, time-consuming, and costly. A smart consultant will advise you on the hiring of email, CMS, analytics, and social system providers. A good consultant will also outline a system that will ensure proper communication and integration between each. At Mequoda, we also offer premium marketing services for email marketing, content creation, and social media.
6. Choose the best system management technology
As you’ve probably noticed, there are many moving parts to multi-platform publishing. You need an advanced CXMS to manage these tasks and keep everything in working order. At Mequoda, we’ve customized our own Haven WordPress System, a central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber. No matter what system provider you choose, they should be managing all the infrastructure, including those tech providers listed above, so you can focus on other tasks.
7. Measure important data you’ve compiled
With a digital business comes an endless stream of data to analyze. Your publishing consultant will know what data is important and what matters most.
8. Ensure a profitable exit strategy
As with any business, publishers need to plan and strategize with the end in mind. If the opportunity arises to sell your company in the future, you want to be on a path of continual, annual growth. Otherwise, you’ll end up like many legacy publishers these days, selling your years of hard work for a loss or just breaking even.
9. Oversee implementation and maintenance
Creating an effective website portal and library strategy, editorial calendar, CXMS, and marketing can be overwhelming for a business in transition. When it comes to executing the steps above, a good magazine publishing consultant will oversee the implementation, train your staff for continued success, and offer suggestions to continually improve. As you can see, we expect a lot from consultants like ourselves, but we can also back up the reasons with years of proven success from our clients.
10. Optimize analytics operations and systems
For this one, it’s impossible not to self-promote–Mequoda offers an in-depth, highly specialized analytics team. We regularly monitor and measure your data to make sure your Mequoda System is running at peak performance. You can leave all the tech stuff up to us and focus on the content and marketing strategies instead.
The bottom line for hiring magazine publishing consultants
The services outlined above touch upon the wide breadth of skills your consultant should have at his or her disposal. You have to keep in mind hiring a consultant that is interdisciplinary in their approach and willing to do more than simply advise your efforts. They should be working for you, with you, and helping set up a system that will last.
Are you looking for a magazine publishing consultant that can integrate your brand online? Maybe you have a question for us? Post your thoughts in the comments or give us a call today!
This article originally published in 2016 and gets updated frequently.