DPInnovation BLOG

Digital Publishing Innovation and David McKnight

Category Archives: Knowledge Strategy

O’Reilly – Tools of Change for Publishing: A viable option for ebooks and direct ebook business


Member Engagement through Content Strategy.

End silos, coordinate efforts across all groups – marketing, membership, publications, events.

Building on Online Publishing Platform to engage and monetize information.

Don’t build what you want…deliver what members want.

Provide eBook solutions without all the conversion costs and distribution revenue sharing required by Amazon and other major Online Proprietary Solutions.


O’Reilly – Tools of Change for Publishing: “A level of unmediated control that empowers publishers (Associations) to be responsive to market feedback, and encourages them to take ownership of user relationships.  These are exactly the habits that publishers need to develop in order to build successful digital businesses, and exactly the habits Tizra does a great job of supporting.”


Tizra’s web-based publishing platform


Full Post here


Content Strategy for 2013: An Association Growth Strategy

As fall hits full swing some of you may be thinking about year end planning and searching for a way to turn over a new leaf (or old one).  Yes, I may be bias but I feel that addressing the opportunities of the information your association gathers and publishes should be a major focus to drive member engagement and overall growth of your association – including revenue.

I’ve centered this blog post on a post by Joe Pulizzi, published Oct 13, 2012.  Word for word, in italics, with my comments (DM) – not in italics.   I think this is critical for association to learn what an expert in the marketing industry is thinking but also to demonstrate how association can excel at Content Marketing.  Based on the strength of your community and content, Associations can outperform more traditional publisher and the for-profit world.   To do so you need three things 1) A Content Strategy 2) Devote resources, but more so an organized team effort, to make the strategy happen 3) a publishing platform or content management system (PubCMS)

Let’s begin with Joe’s post “7 Content Marketing Strategies for 2013” click here for a direct link to the post.

1. Watch “Content 2020 from Coca-Cola

Every time I present at an event, I give the attendees a homework assignment: to watch Coca-Cola’s two-part Content 2020 whiteboard video series. Content 2020 is Coke’s “Jerry McGuire” mission statement on moving the organization from creative excellence to content excellence. Coca-Cola has been a marketing leader for a long time, and here the brand again proves that it is more than qualified to play with the big boys.

(DM) Your first thought might be “Sure, how is out non-profit going to compete with Coke and all of their resources”… well the answer is you don’t.   The point here is to learn and find ways to compete differently.  Innovation isn’t always about something new – actually most of the time it’s about taking ideas and making what you do better.

2. Develop your content marketing mission statement

I’ve surveyed about 1,000 people over the past month, asking each if they have developed an editorial mission, or content marketing mission statement, for their content strategies. Easily less than 5 percent had something like this prepared.

This is a major problem. How can we execute a content strategy if we don’t have a clear vision for why we are developing the content in the first place?  

Every person that touches the content marketing program should know, by heart, what the mission of the content strategy is.

(DM) For an Association this requires that you first clearly understand what your members need – events are a great way to keep that pulse.  Then the second part is as explained before – creating focus from your whole team – events, marketing, membership, publications – to effectively drive thought leadership throughout your organization.

3. A new mindset: Become the leading informational provider for your niche

Brands aren’t taking their content seriously enough. Sure, we are creating content in dozens of channels for multiple marketing objectives. But is your organization’s mindset focused on being the leading provider of information for your customers? If not, why isn’t that your priority?

Look, our customers and prospects can get their information from anywhere to make buying decisions. Why shouldn’t that information come from us? Shouldn’t that at least be the goal?

(DM) I have yet to find an Associations that doesn’t have deep knowledge and thought leadership on the staff and in the membership – own it, command it and in doing so – go big.

4. Utility is key

I absolutely love the Charmin Clean Bathroom App. If you are desperate to find a clean bathroom nearby, and this app provides the answers for you, what do you think the odds are that you would buy Charmin the next time you go to the store?

What if you used Kraft’s iFood app to help you make your next home-cooked meal?

Small businesses find regular answers to their operational challenges at AMEX’s Open Forum.  Take a hard look at your content and see if what you are producing is actually useful for your customers. Is it making their lives better or jobs easier in some way?

(DM) This should be an area of strength for Associations, as your staff should have a deep understanding of what keeps your membership up at night.   At the end of the day it’s not how technical or academic you can be but are you address today’s needs, solving problems, and improving member’s lives.

5. Define and answer your customers’ questions

This is so easy to do, yet most of us don’t do it. Do you have a system in place to compile the questions your customers are asking and post your answers to those questions on the web? The content opportunities that spring up from customer service and sales alone can support your content marketing strategy.

(DM) I heard a CEO of a marketing agency answer the question – “How do you know which social media tools to use and what customers (members) want to talk about”  His answer “Ask”.

6. Employee involvement in content marketing

Take a look at these two projects:

These are two great examples of successful content initiatives that have helped to grow business, were developed from the ground up with a limited budget, and were driven almost entirely by employee content.

(DM) Get examples and an area Associations can excel at because Association not only have staff but membership to help get involved – speakers, though leaders, industry partners.   Dozens of people talking and sharing about a topic can create enough buzz to dominate a topic and make it viral.

7. Co-creation

Andrew Davis’ new book Brandscaping discusses how content partnerships can work. Essentially, a brandscape is a collection of brands that work together to produce great content. I’m starting to believe that this is critical to the evolution of content marketing, as more brands struggle to manage the content marketing process

It’s true that many brands struggle with finding the funding for content marketing projects. Why not work with non-competitive partners to develop amazing and compelling content for a similar customer?

(DM) Another strength of Association’s is that you already have process and events in place to enable co-creation.   It’s critical you tap into these sources and share this wisdom far and wide.   I didn’t say free just wide – there is a way to do both – call me.

OK, I hope this post empowers you to know that with a little strategic planning, the right tools and executed well – your Association is in a strong position to dominate thought leadership in your industry.   Yes, publishers and corporation are racing to build their own community.  They see the value your association has built.  But you have the community and now it’s time to leverage that in new ways to drive growth.

Will a Content Strategy be a focus at your 2013 Strategic Planning?  Call me, I have a lot of old leaves in Wisconsin..and come spring – new ones.

Three Strategies to Create an ePublishing Platform

Trying to attract a crowd to your web presence? Build an ePublishing Platform with NotionPath

One of the most important aspects of embarking on the “investment” of digital publishing is to clearly understand how the solution will impact things like relevance, member value and new forms of revenue.   For some all three may be critical.  For other associations one or to may be more important.   Here are three ideas of HOW to impact – relevance, value and revenue.

#1   Central Repository

Many associations are rich in content but poor in organization.  Content tends to be fragmented and leads to content silos (LINK).   It becomes hard for members, let alone the rest of the world, to find information and often there is no way to cross reference related content coming from multiple sources (i.e. conferences, publications, research, journals, Newsletter, any written or recorded content).

By building a central repository – a data warehouse or knowledge center, you bring value to your members and a central tool for your staff.  You can continue to have other webpages for events, publications, marketing, etc and link back to your central repository.   A central solution allows:

1)    Standardized workflow distribution

2)    Enable readers to search multiple sources of content quickly

3)    Create new products based on topics and offer readers very focused content that meet their needs

These things are critical to enable your members or others to find relevant information fast.  It may also add new forms of revenue because people will pay to get access to just the information they need.

#2 – Delivering the Most Relevant Content

We live in an age of information overload.  Yet it can be critical we find a way to focus on the important information that impacts our career and world the most.   Digital publishing offer Associations new ways to help address this challenge and create value never before possible.

If your association adds value by making sure it collects and gathers content on a daily basis or you have members that have very different needs for the information you collect then this approach to ePublishing may be something worth exploring.

By using meta-data to index and categorize your content, then combing with information in your Association Management System that identifies what your members are interested in.  Plus the right Content Management System – one designed for ePublishing – you can create a web platform where each time a member logs in they are presented with the most relevant content based on their needs.

The site becomes very dynamic; content is changing as often as you enter new content.   Your members can more quickly focus on relevant content making the most of their limited time.

One tip is in your meta-data, you create a one or two sentence description of the content – a “news” summary or headline that to allow your reader to decide if they want to invest more time in that piece of content.   As your site manager watches what content is getting the most attention they can build bundles of content and share that as a new way to help members discover relevant information.

This solution in an “engagement” solution and does require active participation by Association Staff.  When deployed and operated well – this can be come a destination site for frequent visitors by members and possibility non-members too.

#3 – Discoverability and Access Control

Associations controlling access to content has been the standard – it’s how associations protect the value of membership.  The ideas expressed by some of “free access”, “freemium” if you would, as a way to grow, has some merit – but is that sustainable?     Controlling access is important but the challenge is being able to manage multiple types of access and have that access change over time (for example charge for last years conference content, restrict this years to attendees only and open up content from two years ago to all members or even the whole world.

Institutional or company access is also a new area of opportunity for Associations to license content to library’s or large organizations willing to gain access to a larger chunk of content.

So access control is key, but for some Associations it’s also critical they find ways to reach a much greater audience.   If membership is declining are there ways to still reach those not willing to pay for membership, but still see value in a portion of your content.   What about being more open to discovering other groups that you haven’t connected with that would also be interested in you content.

SO the opportunity is to use an ePublishing Content Management systems that allows you to think more strategically about your content, provides a variety of ways to organize and control access to content and be flexible to change that access as time or events change.   Your in-house publisher may very well be your key resource toward membership growth and new revenue.

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).

Thinking Outside the Book

How are you doing in the race for relevance? If one of your association’s main value prepositions has been the collecting and sharing of information, but you haven’t embraced innovations in digital publishing, your relevancy is fading fast.

The pace of technology advancements in publishing can be overwhelming. However, it is disruptive environments like digital publishing that create opportunity for innovative thinking and solutions.

Associations have advantages with which to leverage these innovations. They have great, often member- created content and well-defined processes for gather- ing it. They have established communities built over time, something every publisher and organization is racing for.  Many associations are now considering an investment in digital publishing as part of their
growth strategy. The right plan of action can protect or grow an association’s relevance, revenues, membership and value. Each is quantifiable and should be part of a digital strategy ROI.

So what are others “doing” to meet this challenge? Here are three stories at different points on the paths to exploring digital publishing solutions.

Read the rest of this article shared with Permission from VantagePoint – Wisconsin Society of Association Executives http://www.wsae.org


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!