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I am not sure there is any particular strategy for current employees to do things differently but below are my thoughts on what Condé or other publishers should do TODAY without any delay. This could apply to almost any print conglomerate right now going through a dip, and the right team can turn things around.
I am writing this as a marketing, technology, and startup VC person and it should be looked at as a manifesto to fix what is currently going on within these organizations. I did not touch on the writing or publishing departments as I am not as well versed in those, and they could probably be left as is with the right digital team behind them. (perhaps even hire back some of that lost writing talent let go in the past)
From now on hire Net Natives – these are people that live and breathe the Internet and understand the underlying platforms, accountability, and plumbing of the connected web.
Take control of your web properties – now. The web needs to be embraced first and foremost and the physical products (read: magazines) need to be seen as a part of this new ecosystem.
Hire someone that is net native to handle and run all the hiring of Sales, Business Development, Engineering, Designers, and Project Managers. This is most likely a major role that would have each digital head reporting to her. Reproduce this role where appropriate with each property you have – some overlap or multiple properties can go to one person. Have this new team meet with folks like UnderCurrent and Reprise Media immediately.
Reorganize the sales force
Everyone should be selling strategic ideas not full page print ads with added value banner spots on the web properties. This means your sales force has to be net native too, and has an understanding of brand needs, engagement, conversations, and accountability back to their customers and who they serve. They need to understand how to use Business Intelligence systems, tracking pixels, and ad delivery networks all work together. Demographic and psycho-graphic targeting should be a walk in the park.
Have IN HO– USE developers
Working with the best digital team of developersdesigners in NYC? Great – hire them all and have them work 100% on your properties. Take their entire team, a well oiled machine that is used to cranking out projects on time and under budget, and have them start working in tandem with the sales team to get amazing things accomplished.
Don’t have a team in mind? Hire net native engineers and designers that have shipped completed projects.
Let them have 10%-20% time to work with new technologies, the latest startups API’s, and other cool projects as long as they touch your properties. Give them a sandbox of your data and previous assets to play with and they will come up with interesting things.
Expose their work to your more adventurous readers. This is a virtuous cycle that will pay off.
Hire agile business development people
BD guy for 20 years? Probably a bad candidate. You want people who EMBRACE the latest technology, and can work with your new in-house developers to integrate the latest and greatest solutions to make your lives and your visitors lives easier. This means taking risks. You are going through a dip right now and the way out of it is not to continue the status quo and get blinded by FUD.
Cap the deal cycle process. Cut it to 1/3 of whatever it is today. 90 days from meeting to SLA? Do it 30 days next time.
No more wasting your own companies time, or the time of the other companies.
No more brain sucking meetings to get strategy, synergy, and strategic partnerships done.
Boil it all down; Does this BD initiative create a better experience? Yes – continue. No – move on.
Have great project managers
These are folks that can run and produce a project with a competent team of designers and programmers at their disposal. They are tightly integrated into the sales process – TALKING TO CLIENTS – and then translating their needs back to their team that trusts them.
Gone are the days of micro-sites that disappear after the brand promotion is over.
SEO is now your friend and you build on the foundation layered from each project that comes before it.
But how do we integrate all these people together?
Make up small teams of people that each own a project within the organization. Every project has a specific lead and small team behind it.
A flat organization with small teams working on solving problems allows you to comprise each team with one of the following described above;
1. Digital Manager would have the following direct reports:
a. Sales person
b. Project manager
With this system in place every initiative and business line is accounted for. The organization can scale, as well as provide growth opportunities to go from smaller groups to larger groups with bigger projects. Leadership roles will emerge, and promoting executives from within as well as outside the company would become more viable.
Small groups would own projects, yet be contributing to the great family of products they would be a part of. Accountability and healthy competition would be in place and hopefully lead to a productive and great new culture.Business development, Business Intelligence, Condé Nast, Condé Nast Publications, McKinsey & Company, Reprise Media, UnderCurrent