Digital Strategies- How to Make $ from Content

There are four Ps in the Marketing Mix- Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. By using focusing on more than just Promotion, you can increase your chances of adding the actively sought fifth, and most important “P”- Purchase!

The first thing you learn in marketing is the famous “Product Mix”- Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. These are the classics. However, online content providers continue to struggle with these four variables.

No one factor takes precedence over the others, however ìInternet Thinkingî immediately ruled out price (make it for free, $0.00 ‚ that always helps the bottom line) and Placement (well, itís on the Internet). That left only two variables for marketers to work with ‚ Product and Promotion.

We both know which one of these two was given top priority (remember- no one factor takes precedence over the others). Promotion, thatís correct. Marketers went crazy with promotion. Publicity stunts, $5 Million dollar 30-second Super Bowl advertisements, etc.

In the wake of so many excesses and lack of levelheaded thinking, we would be wise to look around and see whatís out there and how we can work on more areas than just “Promotion”.

Strategy Number One: Customized Products and Relevant Content.

[Warning: Do NOT try this at home, it is strictly for professionals!]

The truth is, I have never actually seen anyone pull this off. Smart Planet came very close to reaching this Holy Grail of online content. Smart Planet offered an ìall you can thinkî buffet of learning for $14.95 per month. Considering that Smart Planet is a project by Ziff-Davis, these guys had access to mountains of content. However, they didnít take advantage (or couldnít take advantage) of their parent organizationís holdings.

Smart Planet was (and still is, but drastically changed) an e-Learning company. For your $14.95 monthly subscription, you could access brief tutorials on how to do anything from make a PowerPoint presentation to making Sushi to learning what a ìMarketing Mixî consists of. Given that a customer was reading up on the Marketing Mix, Smart Planet could have supplied related articles from its sister organizations- adding current affairs articles into the experience. This would have provided the relevant content; and if they had presented users with a customizable interface as well, they would have really been onto something.

The possibilities for cross-promotion are astounding. The value that this would have created for users is even more mind-boggling. Imagine, having everything you want to learn, read and investigate all cross-indexed, organized, up-to-date and customized just for you. All right at your fingertips- for $14.95 per month.

Well, Smart Planet decided to go in a different directionÖso we still have to hope that someone will provide this one day (Further Self-study: Harvard Business Publishing is offering some interesting e-Learning/online content models as well as online music services/companies such as Real).

Strategy Number Two: Price Points and Perceived Customer Value

I receive weekly emails from The Economist ‚ ìThis Week in Businessî and ìThis Week in Politicsî- which give an Economist overview of the weekís activities. Last week I noticed to the side of the newsletter: you could subscribe for $4.95 for a week, $9.95 for a month, or $59 for a year.

The $4.95 price point really impressed me. Normally, I would have expected to get access to ìsubscriptionî content for only one day for this price. But no, itís for a WHOLE WEEK (it is also the price for a paper copy of The Economist).

This is an excellent example of Perceived Customer Value (for more on “Perceived Customer Value” see “iMente, The Intelligent Information” in Best Practices, by Ramon Bori, available at http://www.infonomia.com/english/bestpractices ). You don’t really get anything extra, and youíre probably not going to read articles for an entire week, but the perception that you could makes this product, price and promotion combine to make a powerful incentive to purchase (the most important, yet strangely absent ìPî!).

The Economist is definitely onto something, and we all know The Wall Street Journal is famous for its online content sales. So, when looking for new strategies to breathe some life into your online contents, look at these two strategies as models (or as inspiration) to get the most out of your content. Also, donít forget the four ìP sî of marketing- Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. (And keep looking for the illusive fifth “P” – Purchase!)

Until next time, happy double-thinking,

Jason Ball

Referenced Sites:
http://www.smartplanet.com
http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu/
http://www.real.com
http://www.economist.com

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