DPInnovation BLOG

Digital Publishing Innovation and David McKnight

Category Archives: Innovation

Associations and Publishers – How you are losing your members right now!

Seeking Digital ReadersAndrea Pellegrino   shared a great post that gets right to the point of how Associations are failing their members.  Her post 7 Ways to Lose Members she shares how Associations are.   Publisher should take note too as a couple of these point may hit home as well.   Here is a quick summary and my comments..take a look..what do you see?.   Warning, it’s sarcastic!

1. Don’t ask members what they want: Tell them!

Your association has been doing this for years…eventually things will change back so members get what your doing, right?

2. Talk to your members as if you don’t know who they are.

This social media thing will blow over and people will fallback into line.  After all, you already know what they really need.

3. Don’t give members personal service: Give them FAQ’s.

Aren’t all members the same and isn’t it so much more efficient to tell them all what they need to know, at the same time.

4. Make them wait!

See point #2…they will change, then we can go back to the way things were.

5. Ask them for more money right away.

Everyone knows that membership dues isn’t enough.  Let’s though a bunch of products at them and surely they need some.

6. Don’t waste time or money bringing in “peripheral” members!

By all means, if people can not pay for full membership – forget them…they will just miss out!  This is member only content, join or you don’t exist.

7. Focus on “messaging,” not on providing value.

Because we know what they want we just need to figure how to tell them.

This may sound harsh but members are not going to wait for Associations to change…they have more choices than ever before.

The value of building a community is well understood and the race to build one is on. The for-profit world is all to willing to find the products and services members will pay for.

The publishing industry, in particular, also heavy hit by the changes in digital technology, is slow to react but appears to be more motivate to change, to innovate. Through subscriptions, products, events and better connecting sponsors…will they become the leading “membership-based organizations”?

The answers, if you are an Association or Publisher… is different for each organization…  but the answer will be found though innovation…innovative thinking, innovative leadership, innovative people.

Check out Andreas full post here.

Innovation in Digital Publishing…Starts Here —> Marketing!!!

Clearly there are a number of digital media publishing ideas to chase and some to embrace.  Several new products and opportunities exist to improve workflow to save money and create new products (see the circle).   All of the options can be overwhelming!  So where should you focus…tools, technology, media, or all of the above.  My suggestion is to focus on MARKETING.

OK, why am I talking about marketing for bringing innovation to digital publishing?  Because that is how you connect to a wider audience.  I have worked with few Associations or Publishers that are not already creating great content.  Content that exists in multiple media.  Content that if more people find out about it more people will join their community.  Many are also investing in workflow too.   But none of this happens without marketing.

I’m not alone in this thinking.  Check out the Scholarly Kitchen (a site focused on Scholarly publishing) recent blog post New Media and New Markets — Making Sense of the Possibilities in Publishing. In  post he does a great job of talking about innovation in publishing from three categories:

  • Subtractive – change that lowers revenue
  • Substitutive – takes an existing revenue stream and replicates it with an innovation
  • Additive – leads to growth

It’s critical to have a strategic perspective of you digital publishing efforts.  The blog post concludes with “The real innovation for digital media is not in technology or in enhancing products. The real innovation is in marketing. The successful publisher is one that can study new technologies and see the inherent marketing opportunities before others do. Management is foresight, first and always.

For marketing however, using social media, email, websites, cold or warm calling are all required…but can be a slow and expensive process.   So what is the key…your content itself.   Unleash your content…make it highly discoverable.  Highly search able.  Highly relevant to the visitors on your website.   Highly shareable.

Now, I did not use the word “free” although aspects of your content distribution strategy should include “free” content…free access.  But capturing value is required to be sustainable.

Your PubCMS (Publishing Content Manage System) should provide you with ways to effectively manage content make it highly discoverable, searchable and relevant to you visitor.   If it can not…you may not be using a PubCMS but a website CMS which simply manages pages on a website….not a publishing solution.   You should also be thinking of XML and at least a path to get there.

I’ve said it before and will again…Associations and Publishers are in a race…the winners won’t be the only ones with great content (hopefully most are) but instead the winners will embrace innovation by getting their content read.   Are you?

Four ePublishing Solution Categories for Associations

POST # 3 of 5:  Building an ePublishing Platform

We’ll wrap up these posts with a Webinar.  Please register for Building an Association ePublishing Platform on Sep 12, 2012 12:00 PM CDT.

As I work with associations on helping them find solutions for increasing their capacity to publish more content digitally it’s clear to me that the digital publishing industry is far from being clear to people.   I try to break down the “solutions’ into these buckets:

Content Conversion – the process of taking application files – mainly Word, InDesign or PDF and converting them into XML or online publishing and/or eBook files such as .Mobi (Amazon) or ePub3 (most others).   XML offer publisher the ability to write once and publish many (print, digital, online).

Comment:  XML offer a lot to digital publishing but it does require investing not just in conversion but for long term sustainability in changing your workflow too.

eBook Distribution – these are downloadable files either read on a computer, table or eBook reader.  There are many options today on how to provide eBooks to members.  Amazon, Apple, Google and Barns & Noble are the big players in the commercial distribution.

Comment:  I’m not a big believer that these types of eBook work well for association except for very popular titles.  The conversation,  high royalty fees and management make this less profitable and the exposure to mainstream marketing not as helpful.

Online Database for Research – there are also dozens of free or paid database solution such as PubMed that content can be uploaded and made available.   Most require content converted to XML and have strict guidelines.

Comment:  For some groups like medical association you should have a strategy to get content to PubMed and others.  The key is to work with a solid conversion company to help you ensure the quality of your content is maintained.   There are only a few companies that do this well.

Content Management Systems (CMS) – maybe the area with the widest array of solutions and the most confusion.  There are many CMS solutions – open sources and proprietary.  All at the core help manage the content on a website.  Few CMS solutions provide “true” publishing features such as subscription management, access control, eCommerce, uploading and managing large collections content (tens of hundreds of thousand pages), advance search and meta-data.

Comment:  Know what your needs are… what your members and the rest of the world needs.   There is a unique new opportunity with the right tools for Associations to build world class ePublishing Portals – driving relevance, revenue and more member value.

The first three above the focus is usually on service and quality with price being fairly consistent.   The more “technical” the content the more quality is needed in the conversion process.   The CMS solution is about matching the needs with the solution with the budget.   The goal – eliminate content silos, have a mix of free, member access only and paid for content.   Make sure the content is shareable and fully indexed by google and other search engines (but the site manages access).

Digital Publishing for Associations

As I work with associations on helping them find solutions for increasing their capacity to publish more content digitally it’s clear to me that the digital publishing industry is far from being clear to people.   I try to break down the “solutions’ into these buckets:

Content Conversion – the process of taking application files – mainly Word, InDesign or PDF and converting them into XML or online publishing and/or eBook files such as .Mobi (Amazon) or ePub3 (most others).   XML offer publisher the ability to write once and publish many (print, digital, online).

Comment:  XML offer a lot to digital publishing but it does require investing not just in conversion but for long term sustainability in changing your workflow too.

eBook Distribution – these are downloadable files either read on a computer, table or eBook reader.  There are many options today on how to provide eBooks to members.  Amazon, Apple, Google and Barns & Noble are the big players in the commercial distribution.

Comment:  I’m not a big believer that these types of eBook work well for association except for very popular titles.  The conversation,  high royalty fees and management make this less profitable and the exposure to mainstream marketing not as helpful.

Online Database for Research – there are also dozens of free or paid database solution such as PubMed that content can be uploaded and made available.   Most require content converted to XML and have strict guidelines.

Comment:  For some groups like medical association you should have a strategy to get content to PubMed and others.  The key is to work with a solid conversion company to help you ensure the quality of your content is maintained.   There are only a few companies that do this well.

Content Management Systems (CMS) – maybe the area with the widest array of solutions and the most confusion.  There are many CMS solutions – open sources and proprietary.  All at the core help manage the content on a website.  Few CMS solutions provide “true” publishing features such as subscription management, access control, eCommerce, uploading and managing large collections content (tens of hundreds of thousand pages), advance search and meta-data.

Comment:  Know what your needs are… what your members and the rest of the world needs.   There is a unique new opportunity with the right tools for Associations to build world class ePublishing Portals – driving relevance, revenue and more member value.

The first three above the focus is usually on service and quality with price being fairly consistent.   The more “technical” the content the more quality is needed in the conversion process.   The CMS solution is about matching the needs with the solution with the budget.   The goal – eliminate content silos, have a mix of free, member access only and paid for content.   Make sure the content is shareable and fully indexed by google and other search engines (but the site manages access).

Time to Double Down on Digital Publishing

Move to Digital

I’m not going to rehash the old “Print is Dead” mantra.   It just IS for many types of publications – proceedings, directories, most manuals, standards, journals, marketing material, and more.

With change brings new value.   Your ability to reach a much wider audience brings huge value.   Strive to bring value to your members but connecting with a wider audience to build your community and key to maintaining relevancy.   Knowledge is your weapon.  Use it wisely.

Where should you and your team put your digital publishing focus?

Online and eBooks.

Here are the technologies or digital solution your team needs to research, learn and either build expertise in-house or go find.

  • ePub3 – for eBooks, this technology will be profound – books will not just be read but “engaged” with and learning brought to new levels
  • HTML5 and XML – for online, eBooks and mobile (mobile is CRITICAL)
  • “Pull” vs “Push” – website and mobile delivery that identify a members information needs and allows them to get the content they value most – not hunt for it or get spammed with email to know it’s available
  • Component Content Management Systems – sharing of content in small chunks, like the news has done for years, yet the chunks can be combined, mixed and matched to form new content pieces.
  • Community Technology – beyond your members.  Associations have led the way on building communities and today’s technology makes it easier for new communities to form.  So Associations need to embrace this technology too, and yes social media.    But communities that offer members the opportunities to meet face to face (events/conferences) – will have the edge.

For eBooks conversion from existing content with complex formatting, equations, charts, tables and all the stuff that is key to communicating knowledge – don’t waste your time “doing-it-yourself”.    Quality and accuracy are priceless and protects your reputation.   Find an expert and one that can help put you on a path to adopting new ways to collect and distribute content.

An Innovation Challenge:  Share this list with your entire team – assign a team member with one of these topics and have them research how that technology can impact your organization.   Have them find an expert and talk to them.  Awareness sparks innovation.

Publishing – Knowledge Strategy – This is How Innovation Starts

The following is a post from Seth Godin.  Word for Word because I can’t find a way to improve it nor want to remove a word of it.     You, as the Leader of an organization trying to be positioned as thought leaders –  should consider these 13 (my lucky number) things.  Chance are most of your current vendors won’t understand as they have too much to lose.   Enjoy some innovative thinking written four years ago!   There is still time to react – BUT DO IT TODAY.  After you read this  Start here!

Music Lessons (that work for publishing, too)

Seth Gobin wrote this four years ago, worth a revisit:

Music lessons

Things you can learn from the music business (as it falls apart)

The first rule is so important, it’s rule 0:

0. The new thing is never as good as the old thing, at least right now.
Soon, the new thing will be better than the old thing will be. But if you wait until then, it’s going to be too late.  Feel free to wax nostalgic about the old thing, but don’t fool yourself into believing it’s going to be here forever. It won’t.

1. Past performance is no guarantee of future success
Every single industry changes and, eventually, fades. Just because you made money doing something a certain way yesterday, there’s no reason to believe you’ll succeed at it tomorrow.

The music business had a spectacular run alongside the baby boomers. Starting with the Beatles and Dylan, they just kept minting money. The co-incidence of expanding purchasing power of teens along with the birth of rock, the invention of the transistor and changing social mores meant a long, long growth curve.

As a result, the music business built huge systems. They created top-heavy organizations, dedicated superstores, a loss-leader touring industry, extraordinarily high profit margins, MTV and more. It was a well-greased system, but the key question: why did it deserve to last forever?

It didn’t. Yours doesn’t either.

2. Copy protection in a digital age is a pipe dream
If the product you make becomes digital, expect that the product you make will be copied.

There’s a paradox in the music business that is mirrored in many industries: you want ubiquity, not obscurity, yet digital distribution devalues your core product.

Remember, the music business is the one that got in trouble for bribing disk jockeys to play their music on the radio. They are the ones that spent millions to make (free) videos for MTV. And yet once the transmission became digital, they understood that there’s not a lot of reason to buy a digital version (via a cumbersome expensive process) when the digital version is free (and easier).

Most items of value derive that value from scarcity. Digital changes that, and you can derive value from ubiquity now.

The solution isn’t to somehow try to become obscure, to get your song off the (digital) radio. The solution is to change your business.

You used to sell plastic and vinyl. Now, you can sell interactivity and souvenirs.

3. Interactivity can’t be copied
Products that are digital and also include interaction thrive on centralization and do better and better as the market grows in size (consider Facebook or Basecamp).

Music is social. Music is current and everchanging. And most of all, music requires musicians. The winners in the music business of tomorrow are individuals and organizations that create communities, connect people, spread ideas and act as the hub of the wheel… indispensable and well-compensated.

4. Permission is the asset of the future
For generations, businesses had no idea who their end users were. No ability to reach through the record store and figure out who was buying that Rolling Stones album, no way to know who bought this book or that vase.

Today, of course, permission is an asset to be earned. The ability (not the right, but the privilege) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. For ten years, the music business has been steadfastly avoiding this opportunity.

It’s interesting though, because many musicians have NOT been avoiding it. Many musicians have understood that all they need to make a (very good) living is to have 10,000 fans. 10,000 people who look forward to the next record, who are willing to trek out to the next concert. Add 7 fans a day and you’re done in 5 years. Set for life. A life making music for your fans, not finding fans for your music.

The opportunity of digital distribution is this:

When you can distribute something digitally, for free, it will spread (if it’s good). If it spreads, you can use it as a vehicle to allow people to come back to you and register, to sign up, to give you permission to interact and to keep them in the loop.

Many authors (I’m on that list) have managed to build an entire career around this idea. So have management consultants and yes, insurance salespeople. Not by viewing the spread of digital artifacts as an inconvenient tactic, but as the core of their new businesses.

5. A frightened consumer is not a happy consumer.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but here goes: suing people is like going to war. If you’re going to go to war with tens of thousands of your customers every year, don’t be surprised if they start treating you like the enemy.

6. This is a big one: The best time to change your business model is while you still have momentum.
It’s not so easy for an unknown artist to start from scratch and build a career self-publishing. Not so easy for her to find fans, one at a time, and build an audience. Very, very easy for a record label or a top artist to do so. So, the time to jump was yesterday. Too late. Okay, how about today?

The sooner you do it, the more assets and momentum you have to put to work.

7. Remember the Bob Dylan rule: it’s not just a record, it’s a movement.
Bob and his handlers have a long track record of finding movements. Anti-war movements, sure, but also rock movies, the Grateful Dead, SACDs, Christian rock and Apple fanboys. What Bob has done (and I think he’s done it sincerely, not as a calculated maneuver) is seek out groups that want to be connected and he works to become the connecting the point.

By being open to choices of format, to points of view, to moments in time, Bob Dylan never said, “I make vinyl records that cost money to listen to.” He understands at some level that music is often the soundtrack for something else.

I think the same thing can be true for chefs and churches and charities and politicians and makers of medical devices. People pay a premium for a story, every time.

8. Don’t panic when the new business model isn’t as ‘clean’ as the old one
It’s not easy to give up the idea of manufacturing CDs with a 90% gross margin and switching to a blended model of concerts and souvenirs, of communities and greeting cards and special events and what feels like gimmicks. I know.

Get over it. It’s the only option if you want to stay in this business. You’re just not going to sell a lot of CDs in five years, are you?

If there’s a business here, first few in will find it, the rest lose everything.

9. Read the writing on the wall.
Hey, guys, I’m not in the music business and even I’ve been writing about this for years. I even started a record label five years ago to make the point. Industries don’t die by surprise. It’s not like you didn’t know it was coming. It’s not like you didn’t know who to call (or hire).

This isn’t about having a great idea (it almost never is). The great ideas are out there, for free, on your neighborhood blog. Nope, this is about taking initiative and making things happen.

The last person to leave the current record business won’t be the smartest and he won’t be the most successful, either. Getting out first and staking out the new territory almost always pays off.

10. Don’t abandon the Long Tail
Everyone in the hit business thinks they understand the secret: just make hits. After all, if you do the math, it shows that if you just made hits, you’d be in fat city.

Of course, the harder you try to just make hits, the less likely you are to make any hits at all. Movies, records, books… the blockbusters always seem to be surprises. Surprise hit cookbooks, even.

Instead, in an age when it’s cheaper than ever to design something, to make something, to bring something to market, the smart strategy is to have a dumb strategy. Keep your costs low and go with your instincts, even when everyone says you’re wrong. Do a great job, not a perfect one. Bring things to market, the right market, and let them find their audience.

Stick to the knitting has never been more wrong. Instead, find products your customers want. Don’t underestimate them. They’re more catholic in their tastes than you give them credit for.

11. Understand the power of  digital
Try to imagine something like this happening ten years ago: An eleven-year-old kid wakes up on a Saturday morning, gets his allowance, then, standing in his pajamas, buys a Bon Jovi song for a buck.

Compare this to hassling for a ride, driving to the mall, finding the album in question, finding the $14 to pay for it and then driving home.

You may believe that your business doesn’t lend itself to digital transactions. Many do. If you’ve got a business that doesn’t thrive on digital, it might not grow as fast as you like… Maybe you need to find a business that does thrive on digital.

 12. Celebrity is underrated
The music business has always created celebrities. And each celebrity has profited for decades from that fame. Frank Sinatra is dead and he’s still profiting. Elvis is still alive and he’s certainly still profiting.

The music business has done a poor job of leveraging that celebrity and catching the value it creates. Many businesses now have the power to create their own micro-celebrities. These individuals capture attention and generate trust, two critical elements in growing profits.

13. Value is created when you go from many to few, and vice versa
The music business has thousands of labels and tens of thousands of copyright holders. It’s a mess.

And there’s just one iTunes music store. Consolidation pays.

At the same time, there are other industries where there are just a few major players and the way to profit is to create splinters and niches.

13. Whenever possible, sell subscriptions
Few businesses can successfully sell subscriptions (magazines being the very best example), but when you can, the whole world changes. HBO, for example, is able to spend its money making shows for its viewers rather than working to find viewers for every show.

The biggest opportunity for the music business is to combine permission with subscription. The possibilities are endless. And I know it’s hard to believe, but the good old days are yet to happen.

….wow right.  Now Start here!