No 'Bull****' at IMAG
Publishers talk candidly about multi-platform agenda.
EVANSTON, IllinoisâDay two of the MPAâs IMAG conference opened here today with a promise from David Lusterman, publisher of String Letter Publishing and IMAG conference chair, to âtake the level of candor to new heights.âÂ Lusterman then laid down two rules for speakers and audience members: No âbullshitting,â and no withholding.
The agenda was focused primarily on making the jump from a print to a multi-platform publisherâan imperative underscored by session speaker Cia Romano, CEO and founder of Web consultancy firm Interface Guru, who warned that publishers who donât make the turn are ânot going to survive whatâs coming.â (Attendees appear to understand that the threat is real, as evidenced by how the crowd fell silent during Wednesdayâs award dinner following mention of the recently shuttered country music magazine No Depression.)
When Romano asked how many people have identified the three primary users of their Web sites, only a pair raised their hands. âThatâs not good,â she said. âIf youâre not user-centric then you have no strategy.â
Janet Ludwig, president of Allured Publishingâwhich serves the spa, fragrance and cosmetics care marketsâsays her company took this approach as far as naming their âtypesâ of users, such as âEsther the Aesthetician,â during the Web redesign process. ââWe would say, âIs this for Ophelia or is this for Esther?ââ
Changing the Mindset
For Bryan Welch, publisher and editorial director at Ogden Publications and IMAG board chairman, building a successful multi-platform business means changing mindsets. âI hear a lot of my peersâand the voice inside my head sometimesâsaying, âI have this medium or I have this revenue streamâ or some business school commodity,â Welch said during a session called âSuccessful Multi-Media Publishing Strategies. He says publishers need to move away from mission by medium and move toward mission in terms of building communitiesâin his case of registered users who want to consume the products his company is selling.
âWe have about a million paid subscribers to all our print publications and about 400,000 registered users online,â Welch said. âWe believe this is backwards. We should have 10 million registered users. Once we have them in the community, I donât know what weâre going to sell them, but I know damn well weâre going to sell them a bunch of stuff.â
[EDITORâS NOTE: Check FOLIOmag.com throughout the week for news and posts from the IMAG conference.]