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Pretend Your Print Product Doesn't Exist

Defending against the 'pure play' online.

Josh Gordon By Josh Gordon
04/28/2008 -12:17 PM

It is happening right now in many many industries and sectors. Web-only competitors, "pure play" online publishers, are sneaking in and winning ad sales away from the online products of print publishers. How can they do this? Don’t we have an insurmountable advantage by having a print product continually advancing our brand in the physical world? How do the pure play Internet companies even stand a chance?

"Pure plays" routinely beat the products of print based publishers because they design a new newsletter, webinar, web section, or website, by starting with a clean sheet of paper. Since they have no print vehicle to get them started the "pure plays" design a media product desperate for attention. Every click through they get has is funneled from somewhere else so there has to be an amazingly good reason for a visit. This “clean sheet of paper” approach results in a high emphasis on focus and functionality. It takes an extremely sharp content focus to stand out against the millions of online destinations and when a visitor arrives there must be a high functionality that keeps visitors coming back.

Print people are spoiled. Too often when a magazine launches a web product the editorial focus the same or similar to the positioning as the print product. As for functionality, too often the mission statement is, “To extend the magazine brand onto to the Internet.” Big mistake. Your website needs its own editorial focus, and mission. While it should compliment your print product it cannot just extend it.

To compete, pretend your print product does not exist, then ask, "Given all online destinations and content on the web, why should anyone visit my website?" To beat the pure play publishers, you have to think like one. You too have to start with that clean sheet of paper and work your way forward.


Josh Gordon By Josh Gordon -- Josh Gordon is president of Smarter Media where he works with publishers to maximize their online and print revenue through training, consulting, and representation.

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