Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

A Time for Transformation, not Mere Change

By Eleanor Haas

Once upon a time – about a year ago – traditional publishers fell in love with the colorful screens of mobile devices as a solution to their battle with the popular assumption that information on the Internet wants to be free.  Here at last was a way to once again produce a unique product, charge traditional single copy and subscription prices and restore profit margins. 

Jason Pontin’s describes the rude awakening in “Why Publishers Don’t Like Apps,” Technology Review, 5.7.12.  (http://bit.ly/JgoAAm)   

Today, most tablet machines are Apple, and publishers have to pay Apple to sell their products – which means actually losing sales on individual issues.  Most serious, when they sell through Apple, they lose direct connection with their readers – the lifeblood of magazines and newspapers.

Technical problems also made adapting print publications to apps challenging.  Many publishers ended up with five digital versions of their products to accommodate diverse devices, viewing options and ordinary website HTML pages.  And they found the unbudgeted cost of app development both expensive and time consuming.  Without their own digital readers, they had no audiences to sell to advertisers and so insufficient incremental revenue to offset the app development cost. 

Worst of all, publishers discovered their stories in apps in fact disappointed reader expectations because the stories do not link; they live in walled gardens, closed off from other digital media.

The outcome?  Most mobile device owners read news and features on publisher websites, now coded to adapt to smaller screens or using glorified RSS readers.  “The paid, expensively developed publishers’ app, with its extravagantly produced digital replica, is dead,” pronounces Pontin.

What happened?  Publishers tried to impose old print formats on digital channels – to make an adaptive change, not a transformation.  “I hated every moment of our experiment with apps, because it tried to impose something closed, old, and printlike on something open, new, and digital,” writes Pontin.

One aspect of transformation is to go back to basics – to understand the essence of the product and release it from traditional trappings.  Barnes & Noble made a major change with its superstore bookstores containing pianos, coffee shops and sofas.  Amazon achieved transformation by eliminating the bookstore altogether. Pontin’s solution, like that of Financial Times is to launch an HTML5 version of its website, optimize it for devices, incorporate many applike features and functions and, ultimately, kill the app.  What will the new revenue model be once digital content is free?  That’s yet to come. Innovations evolve.  You don't always get all the answers at once.

As author/futurist Daniel Burrus has said:  “There are two primary uses for technology by business and government. The first is to accomplish more with less―to be more efficient and productive. That's how most people use technology, and it's a good use of it. But the second major use of technology―and it's not that common―is to use it to create new products, services, markets and careers.”  

Learning to accomplish more with less is an important first step – and it's still happening.  But more and more of us now understand enough about technology to create the new, to innovate – that’s transformation, not mere change!

Branding: It’s the Muscle in Marketing

By Eleanor Haas

“In the end there
is no brand until the clients recognize it after it has been marketed.” So said
a dear friend as we debated start-up priorities.  To him, branding appears to be fluff and of
no consequence to a start-up.  But even friends
as smart as this one can be wrong.  In
this case, my friend has confused brand image with the branding process.

He’s
absolutely right that brand image exists solely in customer minds, the result
of repeated experiences with the brand, and marketing is generally key to
building brand awareness, if not brand preference.

But there can
be no effective marketing until you’ve laid the strategic base for it with
branding.

Marketing consists
of techniques and tactics that drive sales.  Branding is the business strategy that grows out of the art of differentiating your
business, your product or service in a compelling way.  It’s the strategic process that gives
direction to marketing and makes differentiation actionable.  Without differentiation you’re just a
commodity with no choice but to sell on price.

“Think Different” epitomizes
the branding strategy that enabled a computer hardware company to turn its
reputation around by differentiating it from dozens of competitors.  Establishing a brand image as an innovator
and supporting that with one innovative product after the other turned Apple’s
business around beginning in 1997.  The
ad slogan would be no more than clever words without the brand strategy behind
it. 

Blue Ribbon
Sports was just another athletic shoe company until it developed the branding
strategy that made it the company we know of as Nike today.  Nike was the Greek goddess of victory, and
that was the image the company used to differentiate its products – first, by
naming its first shoe design Nike, then changing the company name to Nike and,
soon after, beginning to sponsor professional athletes.  Marketing led to the great “Just Do It” ad
slogan in 1988 and the rest is history.

Cadabra, one
of the early online bookstores, designed a strategy of diversification,
choosing to symbolize its vision with the name of the world’s largest river,
Amazon, and then living up to that name to become the country’s largest
retailer.

So, think different – just do
it – become the biggest, the best or both by differentiating your business with
the right brand strategy and then implementing this with effective marketing.