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Monday, June 17, 2013
Member Profile: Lindblom ready and able to help transform
Monday, June 17, 2013; Vol. 4, Issue 92 The Road Ahead Checking what’s on the mind and desk of a SIPA member…
Molly Lindblom, Principal, Business Transformations, LLC, Arlington, Va.
SIPA: Can you tell us about your company? MOLLY: Yes, we specialize in transforming businesses to drive growth, based on a lot of the experience I’ve had. I helped Lexis-Nexis go from having numerous brands to a cohesive, singular brand—across divisions internationally. It was a global master-branding involving 25 countries. I also worked on transforming a startup Lexis-Nexis had acquired—realizing they had great assets for data mining. We took them from a public records-based company to one focused on analytics, providing one of the first analytic tools for law firms to recognize client share.
What stands out from your time with the American Institute of Architects? The idea there was to keep the business relevant. So I helped take them from a more traditional publishing model to one with an online system. We wanted to better understand customer needs—especially for the contractors. Architects and contractors aren’t in the office that much; they’re out on construction projects or in meetings. They need to be able to access information on their smartphones or tablets. I helped to flesh out the requirements and worked with a vendor to get the platform up. There was a nice uptick from that.
Many SIPA members are becoming more association-like these days, selling memberships. Across industry associations and SIPA companies, I think publishers are grappling with the same issues—keeping up with technology, economic pressure, new ways to grow, data as a new source of income, free vs. paid. It’s a very exciting time.
That data area has a lot of potential. I attended Megan St. John’s Pre-Conference session on monetizing data at the SIPA Conference, and it was the highlight of the conference for me—very practical. Megan understands what it takes to use all that data you’re collecting. I can identify where opportunities are to meet market needs using that data and to take companies through the operational process. Data is a different world. There is a lot involved in making the shift to providing data.
Did you get a good sense of SIPA at the Conference? Yes, I picked up on three themes. Publishers have concerns around aggregation models that are coming out. There’s a desire to go to new models like Flipboard and Delve. They’re asking, ‘’Does it help me grow my business?” They’re worried about getting cut out of the equation as companies go more directly to the end user. But are these the right companies to be curating content? The second theme revolves around data and analytics. What’s involved in that transition? And the third is moving from print and pdfs to mobile, digital and SaaS-based models.
It seems like there are many more decisions to make for publishers today. Yes, especially if you bring data into the equation. We took this into account at Courtlink—the Lexis-Nexis subsidiary. Who is your target market? How do you sell? What marketing changes do you need? How do you price? Content and data are complimentary in many ways but do diverge when it comes to day-to-day operations.
It sounds like your strengths are helping publishers make those tough decisions. I want to make sure the thought goes into the business model before you develop that webinar series or move into a new core business. Understanding what the market needs in all forms is what I do. Not just the product they’re looking for but the right price—that’s very important—and how do you support it. Are you sitting down with customers enough, finding their true needs? Are your processes meeting those needs? The key to developing good new products starts with the customer, and doing that shoe-leather research before any coding or publishing. You need to decide if this can make money.
I agree that pricing can be huge. Pricing can be huge. The trick is to understand which components of your offering bring value to which segments. If your prospects value real-time information, you may find your app is a better way to deliver it than in your newsletter, so you have to be very careful how you price it. You can’t give away your premium stuff, wherever it resides. There’s also real money to be made in slicing and dicing. That’s what we did at CourtLink and at the AIA.
You seem confident. Any trepidation about going out on your own? I’ve come to realize over the course of my career that this is the stuff I really like to do and am good at—transforming companies. It can be a painful experience, but I’ve done it enough to know what to do and not to do. Being on my own has brought a combination of very exciting days and very scary ones. I will wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and wonder, “Why are you thinking about that?” or “Why didn’t you mention that in the client meeting today?” But overall, I do feel very confident.
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