"This is Government Executive Media Group's first year without a print publication," said Constance Sayers, president of the Atlantic Media division. "And I can't tell you how liberating it's been for us. We could have dragged out the print publication for a few more years. We were at six issues, we could have gone down to four. But our print publication was becoming a nostalgia piece. And frankly, it was taking our focus away from where we needed our business to go.
"If your print business is middling, then pull the plug, and sometimes that's exactly the thing you need to do to energize your business—and to really allow you to hyper-focus on your future revenue. Seven years ago 80% of our revenue was print and today it's zero."
That quote comes from one of 10 frank and informative video interviews on our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) website that I highly recommend people take a look at. They are from 3-5 minutes long and range from the three keynotes—Matt Bailey, Jared Weiner and Rajeev Kapur—to Sayers and other SIPA and Connectiv leaders.
What strikes me about Sayers' quote—besides reminding me of my Metro ride this morning where I was struggling to fold and read the newspaper among a car-full of mobile users—is the idea of taking focus away. It's hard to argue with publishers who still get significant revenue from print. But the idea of being "liberated" from the task and energizing the future of your core business resonates.
Sayers was answering a question about the single-most important factor influencing your business. For Tara Tesimu, SVP of media & audience development at Winsight, that answer is data. "There is more data out there than has ever been out there before—data about our audiences and their behavior and how they consume what we give them. Data about our teams and what drives and what motivates each day.
"It's our job as digital leaders to not only embrace data but to be really strategic in how we use it. And to use it to make ourselves smarter decision-makers and most importantly to balance it with our instincts and understanding that we have as industry experts, because there's no replacement for that. Allowing data to be transformative in your business is going to determine if you're successful as an organization."
For Adam Manson, manager of financial research for Business Valuation Resources, that most important factor is the drive for increased revenue growth. "We have a lot of products that have been successful for many years... but they've been around a while so they're becoming mature. One of the challenges we've faced is how to keep those products relevant, how to provide data and tools that really meet our customer needs—and in doing so continue to listen to our customers. [We need to] give credence to their feedback and be in touch with how they're using our products and information because that really helps us develop tools and data that best serve their needs."
Sayers also cited the need for being in touch with your customers, but in the context of events. "I don't hear enough clients talking about their events strategies, and they really should be," she said. "It's one of the most profitable lines of business and gets you closer to customers than any line of business.
"You have the power of digital to wrap around an event and hone in on who you want to be talking and who you want to be talking to at those events. And what you want to be saying and the story you want to be giving to your customers. I just don't think there's anything more exciting."
Again, check out the videos here—all of these dynamic leaders will be speaking at BIMS, Nov. 14-16 in Fort Lauderdale.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…