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Get Ready for a Comeback!

Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Priorities are now shifting from how to cope with the economic crisis to how to make a comeback.

Most of you out there are probably in one of two categories: The first includes those publications that held their own -- or even did better -- during the recession. Yes, there really are publications that actually improved their revenues during the tough times! The other category consists of those of you whose fortunes faded as the economy fell deeper into recession. Some of you had to reduce staff, reduce pages, and reduce expectations. You've had to deal with a lot of painful choices.

Regardless of which category you're in, and regardless of whether this recession looks to you like it's ending or not, you need to start focusing on making a comeback. Those who experienced little or no hardship may be thinking, "There's no need for a comeback, we're still good." But your competitors may be preparing for a comeback. Competition is bound to be getting stiffer, and you've got to prepare for that.

On the other hand, if you're in a place from which you need to make a real comeback yourself, now is the time to start planning your return.

A New Landscape

It's important to realize that things aren't simply going back to how they were pre-recession. I don't mean just for you, but for the whole field or community that your publication serves. The recession has been an event that has made its mark. There will be a different post-recession landscape.

For one thing, reading habits of many have changed. With favorite publications folding or dropping in page count, many consumers have had to rely more upon online alternatives. Some may welcome a return of more print content. Others won't. Many will have developed a preference for online content consumption. There's a general trend in that direction, anyway. You'll need to find out what's been going on with your readers and prospective readers. That will give you a clue as to how best to serve them with an appropriate mix of print and online content.

Not only have a lot of readers developed a taste for online content, many advertisers have also acquired new respect for online advertising. Some may want to resume a heavier print schedule. Others will be looking to expand online. Start looking at the directions in which your advertisers are going. There are likely many ways you can provide a real service to advertisers by offering added online opportunities.

While this all may require adapting to new circumstances, a sometimes uncomfortable process, it is nonetheless good news. The new landscape portends an increased demand for content on the part of readers, and an upswing in spending by the advertisers.

Focus on Efficacy

Despite whatever the reader and advertiser predilections may be for print vs. online, don't regard what they're thinking and saying as the whole picture. It's still your responsibility as publisher to evaluate how you can provide the greatest value to them.

Here's an example of what I mean. If an advertiser wants to move a lot of advertising from print to online, help him to define his sales or marketing objectives, and to analyze what mix of channels will be the biggest help in achieving the goals. Some advertisers may be focusing on online just because it's trendy. The concrete result of counted clicks also leads many to a greater sense of getting something for their advertising dollars. If image and brand promotion is an important objective, however, you might recommend that they keep print as a key element of their program. Conversely, some advertisers just like print. They're reluctant to use online. But if they are looking for a direct response from their advertising, it would behoove you to get them to try online advertising.

Time of Opportunity

After facing a perhaps bleak existence for some time, it's all too easy to fail to recognize the opportunities ahead. Indeed, this is a time of opportunity. It is an opportunity for you to correct flaws in your business model that may have limited your success of late. It is an opportunity to retool for the new media landscape that has been developing and will continue to develop. And it is an opportunity for you to make strategic plans for riding the wave of economic recovery.

Most importantly, it is time for you to make a comeback. Get ready now. Don't miss that opportunity!

The Assessment

Posted on Wednesday, July 01, 2009 at 1:53 PM

The purpose of an assessment (sometimes called an audit) is to survey an organization's strengths and weaknesses, identify problem areas, and indicate likely solutions. It also identifies underexploited strengths deserving of greater attention. The assessment examines the structure of the organization, the quality of staffing, the financial resources, the market position, and the processes it uses to do its work.

Typically, we will examine your:

--organizational goals and objectives,

--structure and organizational dynamics of your team,

--use of technology,

--workflow practices,

--division of responsibilities between staff and outside suppliers,

--management systems,

--staff and freelance competencies,

--resources available for accomplishing your mission, and

--impact upon key constituencies.

An assessment can provide an early warning of impending problems and identify unperceived issues, or it can relieve doubts or fears. The results of an assessment can help an organization to direct its attention and resources in ways that will be most productive for both the short and long term.

The cost of an assessment usually ranges from $3000 to over $50,000, depending upon the size and complexity of the organization and on intricacy of the dilemmas it faces. In cases where an extensive assessment is needed, we recommend first conducting a simple assessment, and, based on its findings, devising a plan for a more thorough and targeted assessment. This is usually the most cost-effective approach.

We are experienced at doing organizational assessments of for-profit and non-profit organizations. That means we'll get to your key issues right away, and won't take up your time unnecessarily. We know exactly what to ask and what to look for. You'll get the insights and advice you're looking for -- without running up an excessive bill. One client had budgeted $30,000 for an assessment. We were able to deliver one for just under $5000, and provided far more insight and specificity than was expected.

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