Who in Media Will Survive? Not Necessarily the Brightest
Defining altruism in publishing.
Some 20 years after applying for an ad sales position with a now-defunct medical and scientific publisher, I find myself obsessed with media and the challenges facing the industry today. Every day I hear or read about pay cuts, layoffs, the death of print, challenges around monetizing video or disappointing online ad revenue growth. I tell myself that the media industry is made up of many bright people and that we will collectively get our house in order.
Last night I came to the realization that I have been having the wrong conversation with myself. It is not about being bright. If it were, MySpace and Facebook would be highly profitable at this point. It is also not about the oft-used terms like "integration," "alignment," "aggregation," etc. It really is about one word and one word only: altruism.
According to Merriam-Webster, altruism is the “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.” In other words, it is not about “me/I” as my two-year-old would say, but “you/them.” The “you/them” in our business are the people we serve—serve being the key word. The best content and sales leaders I know are without question the most altruistic. They have an undying devotion to serve—there’s that word again—their readers, users and advertisers. The best are truly devoted to the welfare of others and adjust their offerings accordingly. Individuals can be taught just about anything, but true altruism is particularly difficult to teach. It comes from within.
The very top salespeople are truly altruistic. They make their living by understanding and addressing customer concerns. Though driven by numbers, superstar sellers have a true devotion to the welfare of their respective customers and prospects. By working doggedly to satisfy, great sellers hit their numbers. Altruism leads, money follows. It works the same way for great content leaders. True concern for the end users leads to eyeballs, traffic, readership and engagement. Properties that serve win. Properties that self-serve lose. It’s that simple!
Smart brands are extremely altruistic. Brands that fully understand and serve their customers outperform those that don’t. Business books are littered with stories about failed companies that forgot they were in the customer business. As it relates to those of us in media, brands spend money where their customers go for information and entertainment. Advertisers know via data, intuition and their own personal consumption habits that consumers today feed their needs a number of different ways. This, of course, creates an interesting conundrum for those of us in media. The question we seem to be asking is “how can I be everywhere and make money?”
Perhaps the question we should ask is this: “How can I best serve you?”
As great sellers will tell you, the money will follow.