How to evolve into a rockstar multiplatform publisher by outsourcing these three jobs
Two keys to organizational success as a multiplatform publisher are streamlining the on-staff team members to focus on product management and channel management, while knowing what to outsource. Knowing what functionality to push outside to dedicated specialists who won’t be able to find a home in your full-time staff is critical to succeeding in today’s publishing environment.
Because multiplatform publishing requires a much more diverse skill set than traditional publishing, outsourcing has become one of the keys to creating a leaner, meaner 21st-century publishing machine. There are certain skills and functions that must stay inside the organization, and there are other skill sets that niche publishers need, but not on a full-time basis. Outsourcing these functions allows you, as an independent publisher, access to professionals with ideal skill sets that you might only need for 2-10 hours a month.
Our most successful clients have three critical skills in common:
They’re master content generators. Many publishers are, or they wouldn’t be in this business in the first place. We find that niche publishers, rather than the big general interest publishers, are in fact the best at guiding a team to create awesome content every single day. So you almost certainly qualify as a master content generator.
They’re experts at running a modest-sized to large organization. Being a niche publisher doesn’t mean your company can fit into your garage. It means you have executive management skills that allow you to effectively direct different teams performing different functions. And because you manage creative people, it particularly means that you can herd cats.
They understand the economics of monetizing your great content. This is a different story for some publishers; not everyone grasps the modern digital publishing realities that have created entirely new revenue streams. But perhaps you’re one of the few who is itching to take advantage of those new opportunities, if you could just find someone to help you who knows how.
You may have noticed I did not say they need to be Peter Drucker-level strategists.
Nowhere in those skills mentions anything about being technically savvy, even with the multiplatform future at our heels.
And finally, I never said these successful clients have been historically very good at measuring and tracking their success.
That’s because all three of these skills – strategy, technology, and analytics – can be outsourced. And, in fact, they’re better off outsourced because they require unique skill sets all their own, and you can only run the best multiplatform publishing system if your team (even the outsourced part) is made up of experts, all working together.
The benefits of a multiplatform publisher outsourcing these three skills are simple:
- High octane talent – you will be running a business with a leadership team that has tremendous expertise, and can hit the ground running.
- Lower operating costs – you will not waste precious revenue dollars on trial and error or hiring and firing.
- Rapid shared innovation – you will benefit from the collective intelligence and best practice of your provider’s circle of clients.
How to outsource strategy
A vast majority of CEOs today will tell you that strategy is not their strong suit. And why should it be? A publisher needs to be a master of multiple economic models. Mequoda publishers understand the economics of print and digital magazines, print and digital books, online stores, and a variety of events from live webinars and workshops to conferences with thousands of attendees.
A Chief Strategy Advisor can be a consultant that you hire and they should not only understand the economics of all these various media types – both free and paid – they also know how to leverage content across all these platforms in the most efficient manner possible. A CSA for a media company is an expert in 3 key areas:
- media economics
- content marketing
- organizational management
Oftentimes managing an organization that requires such awareness and cooperation across all the various platforms and channels can be a tough feat for a CEO to tackle alone. Outsourcing your CSA also means that he or she has broad experience across different markets and an understanding of strategies that a CEO of a smaller publishing company could not possibly amass when dedicated to a single business.
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. A good Chief Strategy Advisor already knows what works, based on their portfolio of clients, and all they have to do is fine-tune the process for your specific needs. You get a detailed, bulletproof five-year business plan that includes your content strategy, your organizational strategy, your financial goals and even your exit strategy.
To attain digital publishing success there needs to be a transparent relationship between you and the Chief Strategy Advisor. 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 the Mequoda Institute. It’s a rigorous two-day seminar on the entire Mequoda Method, and one we encourage all potential clients to attend before taking the step into consulting and system development where you can outsource strategy, technology, and analytics to us.
Generally when you hire a consultant, 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. Ongoing, your strategist should work with you as a general contractor to put all the wheels into motion, including the next most outsourceable jobs: technology and analytics.
How to outsource technology
When some magazines transition into multiplatform, they make the crucial mistake of trying to do it all in-house, costing them hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars reinventing the wheel. Then they hire 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 between each.
Over the past few years, media company CTOs have had to rapidly adapt technologically to the rise of tablet usage, responsive website design and marketing automation. An effective media company CTO, or if you outsource this role they may be called a CTA, a Chief Technology Advisor, understands how these technologies change the paradigm on which a publisher operates. CTAs must always have one foot in the present and one in the future, understanding how all existing technologies, from web to app to analytics, to customer service and content marketing, span and intercept to create an integrated CXMS (customer experience management system).
Outsourcing this function to an agency that specializes in your industry, like Mequoda specializes in the niche publishing industry, allows you to operate a system that is easy to use and interfaces well with your product offerings and overall business model.
This advisor should come with a User Experience Team and an Engineering Team to develop your multiplatform system, test it, update it as needed and evolve as your business evolves.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are many moving parts to multiplatform publishing. You need an advanced CXMS to manage these tasks and keep everything in working order. At Mequoda, we’ve customized our own Haven Nexus System, a customer experience management system with a central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber.
No matter how you outsource your technology, it should be to a consultant or provider who acts as a general contractor, managing all the infrastructure, including those tech providers listed above, so you can focus on other tasks.
How to outsource analytics
Rarely does a niche publisher have the luxury of a dedicated analytics executive that brings both scope and depth on a myriad of analytics. A good outsourced Chief Analytics Advisor can see patterns in your data that an overworked on-staff marketing executive might miss. Plus, in an Internet marketing services agency environment like Mequoda, this officer has access to data across dozens and dozens of similar media organizations.
As you may know from reading about our method, we have a set of metrics around our ACEM strategy – Attract, Capture, Engage, Monetize – and our analysts are able to quote industry benchmarks in those 4 key areas. They know what the metrics are supposed to be and when performance takes a dip, they can identify the root causes and suggest actions to lift those specific key metrics.
Working with the CAA is an Analytics Team, comprised of hard-working data analysts who can plow through lots of data, often from multiple sources, in a small amount of time. What might take an experienced and dedicated analyst 10-12 hours to crunch would take the average marketer 20 hours or more to complete.
With a digital business comes an endless stream of data to analyze. Your outsourced Analytics provider will know what data is important and what matters most. For this one, it’s impossible not to self-promote – Mequoda is the only magazine publishing consultancy that 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.
In today’s publishing environment, independent multiplatform publishers who allow these functions to go undone, or to be done by generalists, won’t succeed and prosper as they might if they were outsourcing this to a trusted third-party Internet marketing services agency like Mequoda.