So it looks like political and economic uncertainty is the new normal. What might the implications be for your publishing business and how can you lessen the risk?
These are my thoughts on what to look out for and some ideas on managing the impact in the short term, and making your business more resilient to economic shocks over the longer term…
Issues for publishers raised by Brexit
Exchange rate – if the £ remains at its current low state, then outsourced development or payments to international freelances will be more expensive. Conversely, overseas subscriptions will convert to a higher amount in sterling.
Advertiser confidence – depending on the type of businesses who advertise, they may feel under pressure, eg if they are retailers importing product for sale from China or Europe then their margins will be squeezed, and they may consider cutting their marketing budget.
Readers need for information – some publishers in the financial & business sector have reported increased traffic as readers seek authoritative news and analysis.
Subscriber confidence – depending on the level of uncertainty, consumers may cut back on spending, and businesses may reduce their overall spend on information services, eg by cutting the number of users.
Staff distraction/ worries – this could be the biggest problem. Staff will be distracted by the personal financial impact on themselves and their families, and tensions might arise between employees with different political views.
How to protect your business in the short term?
• Provide readers with valuable information – confirm your role as a trusted source with a tailored news feed and special reports
• Show advertisers the value of continued marketing – share tips and ideas on how to mitigate the impact of Brexit on their business. Maybe offer a special deal for advertisers who commit to forward bookings. Take the time to talk to your top 10 advertisers personally, and work with them to develop a campaign to address their concerns.
• Reassure your staff – hold meetings to share ideas on how to mitigate the impact
• Review all your contracts – are there any opportunities to streamline?
• Test a “saver” subs deal for consumers
• Run a “Brexit” event or webinar for business subscribers/ readers
How to make your business more resilient in the long term
Uncertainty and economic shocks may just be part of the landscape for the next few years – so what can you do to make your publishing business that bit more resilient?
• Keep shifting towards a subscription model where possible
• Really understand what your readers and audience are worried about: does your product or service help solve that problem?
• Engage with advertisers – understand their problems and brainstorm new solutions
• Invest in building your customer database
• Explore paid subs options, and add value to your subs proposition to justify a premium rate
• Take a hard look at your portfolio – could some weaker titles or products be closed, merged, reduce frequency or go digital only?
Whatever our own political views, as business leaders we have to focus on taking swift action to reassure staff, advertisers and audiences, reinforce our authoritative position as a provider of information and analysis in our market, and take a critical look at all our activities and costs.
If you have any tips or ideas to share, or you’d like to have a chat about the challenges your business faces, feel free to get in touch for a discussion over the phone or over a coffee.