Where do new revenue ideas come from? Here are five examples:
1. An event. Search for a void in coverage and a popular locale. Esca Bona was created by Penton's New Hope Network to fill a void that they saw in the Natural Foods Conference segment. The 2018 edition will be their fourth. "Starting a new conference in an already crowded space is quite challenging not to mention the continued effort required to build a brand," said Melissa Johnson, manager, marketing automation programs for New Hope Network/Informa.
They chose a locale that would resonate with their audience and go back each year. "Austin brings the entrepreneurial energy, rebellious spirit and authentic creativity that is Esca Bona." And they conveyed that spirit in their copy. "Gone is the typical boring prose; in with messaging that takes on a conversational flair," Johnson said. "A sense of community, of working together, and of doing good were all recurring themes."
2. An association. Look at your event registrants. "We launched an association that exceeded our expectations in just a few months," said Elizabeth Petersen, chief people and strategy officer, Simplify Compliance. "We were looking at registrations for events, and one of my product people noticed there's a new title popping up, and we had never seen this title before—it was revenue integrity specialist. We started picking up the phone and calling customers."
"What does that [title] mean?" they asked. "I don't really know. I'm isolated, and I've been given this title," went a typical repsonse. "There's nobody else who does this in my organization." So they sent out a survey—"are there revenue integrity specialists at your organization?" "We started doing focus groups and shadowing," said Petersen, "and after a year we said these guys need an association. We launched—it's very niche and getting folks to truly opt into something these days is very difficult. [But] the first month that we offered a free resource, 2500 folks signed up for an e-newsletter. And in the first month and a half we had 400 people signed up for an association that didn't exist yet. We already have our first sponsor. It would not have come about without talking [to our customers]."
3. A podcast. Look at your most-read articles. After investigating podcasts as a viable revenue stream, Harvard Business Review is launching two new series, including "Women at Work," a pop-up covering gender and the workplace, reports MediaPost. Their IdeaCast is the top-ranked podcast in the management and marketing category on iTunes, receiving more than 1.4 million downloads monthly.
According to Sarah Green Carmichael, HBR executive editor, the idea for "Women at Work" came when Maureen Hoch, editor of HBR.org, noticed that some of the most-read pieces on the site were about research surrounding gender at work. Given the current climate, Hoch thought there could be a place and audience for a podcast about women's workplace experience.
"We launched the podcast to really fill that need—we know our readers, and especially our female readers, are big multitaskers. We thought we could package these ideas into a format that is more consumable and user-friendly for people on the go," Carmichael said.
4. A forum/association. Find who's alone out there. When Stephanie Eidelman, CEO of InsideARM, started Compliance Professionals Forum in 2015, she saw that compliance was a new section in the debt collection industry. What you can't do seemed even more important to know than what you can do. "These folks are on their own, they feel like islands," she said. There were other associations in this market, but Eidelman said the opportunity was there because they were either poorly managed or too political.
5. A resource guide. What can supplement a popular newsletter, course or webinar you're doing? In a blogpost Friday on finding new ideas, Russell Perkins of InfoCommerce pointed to Robert A. Wozniak Jr., a teacher at Pennsylvania College of Technology, who "couldn't find a suitable book for a sustainable building materials course he was teaching," wrote PCToday. And thus emerged Made in America: Sustainable Building Products, Materials & Methods, a comprehensive listing of building products manufactured in the United States.
Already in its expanded second edition, the resource guide is partly inspired by Montana builder/economist Anders Lewendal, who observed that, "if every builder bought just 5% more U.S.-made materials, they would create 220,000 American jobs right now."