7 Building Blocks to Succeed in Digital Publishing – Part 1: The Strategy

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Excellent publishers have defined a clear strategy to compete or grow in the digital arena. As the digital world is very rapidly evolving, your strategy needs to be agile.
Successful companies first define a long-term strategic intent, and translate this into a set of short-term goals, which are being reviewed on a 6-month rolling horizon.

Define Your Strategic Intent

Two strategic options need to be investigated thoroughly:

  • Leadership through innovation: You aim to establish market leadership by constantly focusing on product innovation. This drives product use by early adopters and opinion makers and in itself will provide a sustainable basis for marketing and promoting your product towards other user categories. You aim to capture the so-called ‘first mover advantages’.
  • Fast follower: As a fast follower, you screen similar markets for proven solutions. You select offerings with first proven results and introduce them quickly and firmly in your markets. By doing so, you avoid some of the early mistakes made by innovation leaders, and you focus on the scaling up of proven concepts.

Set Your Journey for Digital Growth

Once your intent is clarified, you have to draft the various paths to achieve your strategic goals. The digital environment offers a multitude of opportunities of growth and transformation. You will need to develop a well thought out framework to assess these priorities.

The following issues need to be addressed:

  • How aggressively do you want to move your existing print business towards digital platforms? Which added value can you offer to your existing print readers? Which reading formats do you want to offer your print subscribers? How do you avoid rapid cannibalization or price erosion?
  • How much of your content do you want to offer for free on your website? How much of your content is exclusive and you want to keep only for paying subscribers?
  • Should you launch and grow new propositions, in order to attract new audiences and tap into new revenue sources?(eg Yahoo News Digest, Economist Espresso)
  • Should you do this internally, or should you aggressively pursue an acquisition strategy?
  • Do you have to invest into businesses that move beyond the pure digital publishing business such as e-commerce platforms or new lead generation platforms?

Review and Adapt Your Strategic Plan Frequently

The digital world is changing at a very high pace. New disrupting businesses arise every few weeks. Paradigms shift frequently and new insights arise on a continuous basis. In such environment it is hard, if not impossible, to set very long-term strategic goals and prepare a plan accordingly.

What is more effective is to prepare an implementation plan with a time horizon of 1 year, establishing tangible targets. Minimally every 6 months this plan needs to be reviewed and adapted based on the results.

The key goal of this process should be to learn and build expertise as fast as possible. In an environment of continuous change and uncertainty, the most successful organizations are the ones that learn the fastest way possible.

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What is your strategic intent? Join the conversation on our new community platform and share your story.

Digital Publishing Framework: 7 Building Blocks to Succeed is a full series of 7 articles that present a new, comprehensive framework with 7 key building blocks for newspaper companies to achieve success in digital publishing. 


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