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Thursday, June 20, 2013
How are you monetizing your content? Two publishers share what's working for them.
Thursday, June 20, 2013; Vol. 4, Issue 95 Model Behavior Looking at new and better ways to monetize your content
For two publishers, good content paves way By Ronn Levine
I had a couple interesting conversations this week with members—one with Julian Turner, the CEO of Electric Word, a large publisher in London; and one with Benj Steinman, the publisher of Beer Marketer’s Insights in Suffern, N.Y. Both do a great job of covering their subjects. For Electric Word, that includes education, TV sports business, online gaming and healthcare. For BMI, it’s all the different facets of beer, including the fast-growing craft market.
“I love the editorial side of it,” Steinman said. “So I still wear both hats—editor and publisher. We still have very high renewal rates [over 90%]. These are the values that my old man [founder Jerry Steinman, now 89] instilled in me. Focus on editorial content sufficiently and you’ll get a high renewal rate—as opposed to starting new things all the time.” Benj Steinman did start the very popular Craft Brew News in 2010, so he knows growth is important. But to hear him talk about the care his staff takes with editorial—“we still print everything out in the office and have a whole bunch of eyes look at it,” he said—you sense why he’s successful.
Similarly, Turner is confident about his staff’s editorial capabilities. “We’re generally very good at [the coverage of our topics]—for example, keeping on top of what teachers need. We’re information publishers; we like change,” he said referring to the shifting rules and regulations—and technology—of the verticals they cover.
The questions, however, for both Turner and Steinman—and many other publishers—come when confronted with all of today’s possibilities for getting that information to your audience. “More challenging for us and other members [than the coverage] is keeping on top of how people want to digest their professional development information,” said Turner. “It’s changing quite rapidly. Some ways are very experimental. For our education groups, live-delivered conferences outside of school are still the biggest chunk [of business].”
Interestingly, webinars have not really caught on much in the U.K., and Steinman has chosen not to enter that channel yet. He does sell out his live conferences, however, and still sells subscriptions separately, but wonders about “the infinite range of possibilities” that are out there like licenses and platinum memberships. “I still prefer simplicity,” he said. “What’s working for us is giving customers more information more often.”
Steinman laughed a bit because he knows that what he just said makes perfect sense, and, of course, would keep his staff of around 10 working night and day. He calls one of his publications an “almost-daily” and mentions press deadlines of just about every morning. “It’s not easy. But that’s what they want and that’s what we’re giving them. Conferences have been our source of strength despite the economic downturn. The craft business has created some exciting opportunities.”
Turner wants to engage with his audience as much as possible. He talked about “creating other ways of engaging with customers to deliver their professional development needs. Once you’re focused on that job, the format doesn’t matter anymore.” Electric Word also has a section of the website where customers can “ask anything and we’ll get an answer in 48 hours.”
That seems to be one of the biggest takeaways I got from talking to these two CEOs—who will both be featured in upcoming Member Profiles: know your subject and know your audience. Steinman has been at this for many years and can rattle off all the segments of his audience. His writers have built up similar rapport, and I’m sure the Conferences reinforce that. Turner’s company is much bigger, but it was the breaking out into the six “hubs” that rejuvenated the company.
The Electric Word homepage highlights this passage: “We believe in lifelong learning, both for ourselves and our customers, and deliver it in ways that are interesting, practical and effective.” I think Steinman would agree, perhaps throwing in the word “fun.” (The subject is beer.) “Are we evolving quickly enough, are we capitalizing enough?” Steinman asks. Universal questions, for sure.
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