Author: Fergus Gregory
Word count: 790
Time to read: 3 minutes
If you’re a media business converting your company to digital-first (which it will be for some time to come), maximising the value of your digital assets is a commercial imperative – but it would have been a challenge at the best of times. Now it’s urgent as well.
Three B2B media industry tropes I have heard over the years seem to have been turned on their heads recently
- Great events are the last thing a marketer will cut
- Senior people don’t really engage in digital events
- The most successful media businesses should aim for a good mix of revenue from live events, subscriptions and (usually last on the value scale) digital marketing services
Our assumptions, our approach and our business models have had to change, fast.
2400 years ago, Plato wrote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” For event and publishing entrepreneurs, this should be music to your ears. It’s what you do, it’s how you created your business, it’s what you’re passionate about. We are hearing many stories of success; but with everyone suddenly rushing at fewer channels, we’re seeing hard-won reputations being damaged in a flurry of demand to just ‘get something out there’.
That’s not to say we don’t need to act fast, more that we are all in startup mode now. That means rapid but controlled customer insights programmes, product development and new sales and marketing setups. Here are the three digital-first steps for survival and growth:
How can you retain customer revenue when you can’t deliver what you promised? First things first: speak to your customers, your exhibitors, sponsors, speakers, advertisers, delegates and readers.
- Understand what their real challenges are: not your previous assumptions, but the pain points which will still be keeping them up at night when this is all over
- Think about the assets you already have and can create which will help people solve those challenges. Investigate the plethora of digital tools at your fingertips rather than “how do I replicate what I used to do”, and think beyond webinar – Death by Webinar is likely to be just months away.
- Combine the right assets, outcomes and tools to create a digital inventory which you can give to your paying customers for free initially – this is your goodwill, continuing to meet client outcomes.
Over time, your clients will realise the tremendous value you’re giving them. When they do, it’s time to sell to them. Use the value you’ve created to offset what they’ve already paid you, and then sell them more. The success you drive in these early activations then empowers your teams to lean on a tried and tested tactic familiar to all expo organisers and magazine publishers, who make sure that floorplans and their publications get sent to prospects. Once you actively demonstrate that prominent clients are getting results from you, it makes it way easier to sell those solutions to new, lapsed and previously untapped client groups.
Now it’s time to deploy the powerful, ‘always on’ suite of products you’ve created to secure additional client budget (this is new money, unlikely to come from their live event budgets) and win new customers. All of your competitors are in the same place as you. Use the fantastic client outcomes you’ve been delivering to win your competitors’ customers.
A word on monetisation
You could even go further – subscription or membership – but that’s a whole new ball game, and we’ll be covering audience monetisation in depth in a future article and webinar. It’s right for some audiences and brands, and not for others.
The Digital Pivot is about client, audience and business outcomes:
- Retain cash in the business
- Habituate your audience to digital content that meets their needs and solves their challenges
- Show your clients a new way to achieve their objectives
- Deliver amazing outcomes for your customers
- Change your business model from one reliant on four walls and fixed dates to a year round, highly valuable resource with strong revenue retention and growing barriers to entry
Do this, and you’ve made your business more resilient and probably more valuable – it will be a long time before we hear an investor say “we only want events-only businesses”.
Go on. Be inventive. It’s in your Media Entrepreneur DNA!
- Focus on customers’ real needs – make sure you respond to them, which means you have to talk to them
- Remember that you’ve been successful because you deliver, hold on to this. You’re just delivering in a different way
- The hybrid business model (digital and live) is not only a short term opportunity or necessity: it’s a strategic opportunity to deliver value throughout the year (and generate more revenue)