The Avengers (Ethos at Least) to Land in SIPA Annual

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Superheroes may be all the rage now, but in publishing, Arno Langbehn, CEO of Behr's GmbH in Hamburg, Germany, wants to make sure the roles are correct.

"Be the mentor, not the hero," he wrote me on Friday, to describe the thought process behind his SIPA Annual 2019 Pre-Conference Workshop on Monday, June 3—Extraordinary Examples for Marketing, Product Development and Sales and How to Implement Them Successfully Into Your Publishing House.

"Use the technique of Hollywood movies"—the Disney ethos of storytelling that simultaneously looks forward and back with emotion and humor, never looking down on its audience. "Who is the most important person in this world from your customers` point of view?" Langbehn asks. "The customers themselves. And this is how customers want to be addressed.

"In our publishing house we do not place us in the [main] focus. Instead the customer is the hero. She manages to do a great job and masters all the challenges. Our mission is to help her accomplish that. So she is the hero and we are just the mentor who helps guide her talent and skills to achieve goals even more easily."

I doubt that Scarlett Johansson or Robert Downey Jr. will be flying in for the workshop—though you never know with Arno—but he did secure the heroic expertise of Denise Elliott, CEO of Kiplinger, and Chris Moffa, Kiplinger's director of marketing. They may not be avenging anything, but they will be providing information that just may save your world.

To promote the workshop and stay with the big-screen theme, Langbehn put together a video—a platform he is very comfortable with. His company's most successful single-purchase product is a video in 10 languages about food hygiene that won a second prize in the 2018 SIPAwards.

Langbehn explains his ideas. "To establish the best relationship to our customers we take over the adapted story selling system of Hollywood movies in every communication with our customers in the following order:

  1. The character of the customer;
  2. His or her burning desires and dreams;
  3. His or her external and internal problems;
  4. The character of the mentor;
  5. The journey of the customer with us;
  6. The security plan and loss drama;
  7. Call to action.

He will also demonstrate how to successfully implement this system in the communication of your publishing house. That may channel Disney legend Frank Thomas who famously said that success begins "when you can tell a story with empathy."

Other takeaways from the workshop include:

  • How to know what the highest price your customer will pay.
  • How to position your customer as a hero
  • How a poster at Universal Studios can quadruple your price and keep customers buying from you.
  • How the supermarket Aldi gets free advertising from other companies.
  • How the story of Romeo and Juliet helps you get the necessary information from market research.

His workshop will have company on Monday afternoon. Jim Sinkinson will be leading a separate workshop titled Information Memberships: A Proven Model for Increasing Customer Engagement, Improving Retention and Boosting Lifetime Sales.

Membership is one of the biggest trends in the publisher and media information business today.  Wrote NiemanLab last week: "The specifics in this industry trend of more meaningful reader revenue (including other forms of exchange beyond money) are still being nailed down. Membership frequently is meant to enhance the relationship between a news outlet, its sources, and its readers, and their overlap; it's about joining the cause of the news organization, even if that cause is as simple as providing accurate and useful information to its followers."

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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…