If any still remain, niche publishers are coming to knock you down. You're an obstacle to success. That was a big part of the message as the SIPA Annual 2018 Conference ebbed and flowed in so many wonderful ways, kicking off its 42nd—yes, 42nd!—edition as a Washington, D.C. centerpiece.
From Education Week's highly successful webinars where editorial and marketing share the load, to monthly inter-departmental meetings at School Family Media to IOP Publishing's title-diverse project teams, departments are working together like never before—and seeing positive results.
"[All of our] people must be ready to be tasked to support our next sale," Tim Hartman, CEO of Government Executive Media Group, told the overflow audience in his opening keynote. "If a sales person has a problem, and you don't jump to help solve that problem, that's a problem for us."
Speaking about his company's dearth-of-products-defying digital transformation—50% of their revenue comes from products that didn't exist 5 years ago, 80% from products that didn't exist 10 years ago—Hartman offered quotes that could go up immediately on the bulletin boards of most SIPA members:
"Perfection is a source of delay."
"We have discipline around experimentation."
"Wait for a perfect product and you'll miss the opportunity in your market."
"We measure carefully every single day. If you don't do that, you're just creating noise for your staff."
Keeping with the bulleted trends of the day, Hartman presented his five keys for B2B growth:
1. Culture - creating conditions for success. "You need your staff to collaborate to create products that can grow platforms," Hartman said. "Create a culture to build trust and collaboration, and breaking down silos... Think ambitious experiments and trust each other. If you look around and don't see that, you have a problem."
2. Vision. - what do you want to be when you grow up? "What will your company be in 5, 10 years?" Hartman asked. "Not so much your company, but your industry. And how will you serve that industry? How do those products drive a broader economic success? We launched a defense publication anchored in a new [area]. In 3 years it's become competitive because we had captured the hearts and minds of our user base."
3. Talent - we're people organizations now. "Information and people will rule the day," he said. "The approach that Atlantic Media takes to talent is the single biggest driver of our growth... Solve culture and vision and you will solve talent."
4. Product - weak products kill companies. When I talk to different companies, their biggest struggle is product creation and sustaining...," Hartman said. "Execution of product is where things fall down. Bringing products to market is a bridge... You need [many staff] moving in sync to bring a product to market. If one falls down, the product will be a failure,
5. Learning - one of the most important things where people fall down on. He said that just having metrics isn't enough. You need a strategy in place to know which metrics matter. Part of failing fast—another theme for the day--is knowing when to move away.
Two more highlights from the day:
On Webinars. "Educate rather than sell," advised Hyon-Young Kim, webinar producer, Education Week, in a session on webinars. "Product pitches often fall short. Think about how you want to frame it. Don't let your webinars leave your audience disappointed or feeling duped. We want our customers to come back." For social media, tailor the webinar language to the platform. Experiment and see what gains traction. Incorporate social sharing in the platform. Consider offering closed captioning services—it's a good resource and they provide a written transcript... And don't let the trail end with the webinar. Post the next webinar and/or links to related articles.
On diversity. "Collaboration is always better than non-collaboration," said Brian Crotty, CEO and president of OPIS by IHS Markit, in a great session on management/leadership in the afternoon (that I will be reporting more on later). "And diverse collaboration is better than having the same 10 guys in a room." Crotty compared what's happening in music to the publishing industry. "You'll have a country woman singer with a rapper, and the music is coming together really well. I see the same thing in business with old and young and other diverse [groups], and the conversation is even better."
We'll give the last words of the day to Hartman: "Embrace the mess." The conference winds up today.