In the ongoing remodel of the publishing world, the debate is often centered on “print first” vs. “digital first” models. What happens if we table that discussion and make the case for an “audience first” frame of mind?
The question is posed by Rob O’Regan in eMediaVitals.com, who makes some interesting observations about the industry. He cites the “reams of research” that assert in no uncertain terms that this is the age of the customer, in which “social and mobile technologies have disrupted industries by changing the way customers interact with businesses.”
The research clearly demonstrates that companies must do a better job of understanding their customer and how they interact with their brand in order to survive. Still, O’Regan wonders, “How did so many publishers miss this memo?”
Perhaps it’s due in part to the nature of the beast.
“Publishers tend to view their audiences as a collection of demographics that can be packaged and sold to an advertiser,” says O’Regan. “The editorial side of the house sees its role as deciding what’s right for readers while protecting them from the scourge of advertising (and, by extension, its own sales team). Both those perspectives are flawed, because they’re built from inside-out thinking.”
We agree with O’Regan on this point: “As a publisher, your primary mission should be to serve your readers, and the best way to do that is to take their perspective, not your own.”
Publishers need to learn what their audience wants, and how they interact with the content and advertising. How? By using all of the data available through the new tools of digital media. Every tweet tells a story; every newsletter sign-up offers insights.
“Don’t run from these tools, or view them as an ethical slippery slope. Use the tools to learn about what your audience wants – and deliver an experience that blows them away. That’s how you build a sustainable business model.”
Great advice as we look ahead to 2014.