Custom publishing is all the rage these days. Traditional publishing houses across the country are launching, either formally or informally, custom divisions of some nature. If you are considering a "custom" move, here, courtesy of Joe Pulizzi, chief content officer for Junta42, are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Get publisher buy-in. The CEO can push the initiative down to the rank and file, but it’s the publishers that can make or break the success. Create an internal committee made up of key publishers and sales representatives to help conceive and launch the plan. If they help create it, they will be more likely to look out for the program’s success, and get key customers involved.
2. Choose your sales force wisely. Some custom divisions have custom-focused reps, while others add it to their front-line sales force to sell. The ultimate decision should be based on your target market. If your custom division wishes to fully leverage a brand’s credibility, you must get those reps involved in some way (including financial incentives). If you decide to go to outside markets and leverage your other assets, such as production or Web capabilities, an outside custom-dedicated sales force is probably the way to go.
3. Regardless of your sales force structure, invest in sales training. Custom media sales is the ultimate in solutions selling. The last thing you can afford to do is have the sales force lead with a product when they should be leading with a question.
4. Get a project manager. Once you enter the custom game, you are now entering the world of agency life. Throw out how you’ve dealt with customers in the past. Partnering with customers on a custom project means 24-hour customer service. Because of this, you need to hand the reigns over to a qualified project manager or account executive. Let this position focus on the client and getting the job done, and let your editors, designers, Web developers and production staff support your project manager.