Is there a medium that feels they’ve got a handle on how to make money online?
I doubt it.
I’ve talked to people in both big and small media organizations. Some are pure-play companies in one medium or another. Some have a combination of TV, radio, and print. Some have tried wholesale reorganization of their sales operations; some have taken baby steps to get there.
It seems to me that two things seem to control how people in an organization feel about their digital revenue efforts.
THE TOP-DOWN THING
In part, it’s about leadership vision. Somebody … or somebodies … with real authority has to make it clear that new media selling is part of the future. That person keeps it on their agenda, and doesn’t let up.
Managing change is tough. I think it’s one of the hardest things that corporate leaders do. It’s just natural for most groups of workers (departments, units, divisions, etc.) to be in a state of stasis, where everyone works together to keep things basically the same day after day. Groups of people don’t tend, as a cohesive group, to naturally make big changes without being prodded to do so.
You never really know the outcome when you’re working to make a big change the culture or natural state of a group. It seems there are always some unintended consequences, no matter how thorough or smart you are. Plus, peoples’ emotions really start acting up when big changes are afoot. That only makes it messier, and harder to keep everything out in the open.
Still … it seems that someone has to have a vision, especially with getting revenue from the digital world. That someone almost always has to have a certain tolerance for being uncomfortable, because new media is not the same as old media. It’s not like selling a new package or a different show or a tweaked format.
I’ve found that one thing that old media folks really don’t understand about new media is just how real people use it. In some ways, it’s just another medium (or set of media). In some other, crucial ways, it’s not at all the same. You can see that leading people into this means you have to communicate that there is a ton of potential out there, but that we don’t yet know exactly how we’re going to get there, but we absolutely will figure it out.
THE BOTTOM-UP THING
With every organization I talk with or work with, it seems that one of the big keys to digital revenue success is to have some sellers simply willing to sell it.
That sounds so simple, huh?
That doesn’t mean having support people who can create presentations, do in-depth research, plan an online buy, set budgets, make forecasts … and it doesn’t mean having account reps who are willing and able to take orders if they come in. It means having professional sellers who are just willing to friggin’ SELL the online component of our business.
If your experience is like mine, there is a small number … maybe just one or two members … of most media sales staffs who really “get” selling digital media and actively go after it. Even with serious prodding, many of the rest never fully embrace selling digital.
Even when one or two sellers really start cranking out some revenue from digital sources, it still doesn’t motivate some others to take a whack at it!
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
If you work for a media or entertainment brand … whether you’re a seller or in some other position … I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this. If you’d like, you have the option of posting anonymously as a guest. Thanks for your feedback.