Thinking like a media company

Philip Morgan

I’m still working on that update of The Positioning Manual for Technical Firms. It’s a big project! Too many words, and I’m going to have to cut at some point. The word count graph is headed up and to the right and points to around 80 thousand words which is at least 20 thousand too many.There’s a section in the book where I talk about accelerating your progress from point a to point b.Point a is: you’ve made the decision about how to specialize.Point b is: you’ve cultivated a reputation in the market as a result of that decision you made back at point a.Here’s one of the 9 accelerants I identify:

Thinking like a media company

The final accelerant might be thought of as a grouping of several previously mentioned accelerants. I refer to it as “Thinking like a media company”.Media companies use content to attract an audience and monetize that audience through subscriptions, ad revenue, or creepy shit like gathering and selling personally identifying data, etc. If you think about your company using content to attract an audience and monetize that audience by offering your services to them, then you’re pretty close to what I mean by thinking like a media company.If you ignore the revenue model, what makes HBO different from prime time broadcast TV?There could be multiple answers to that question, but the main one is: different content! HBO has invested in different content—and made much deeper investments in some of that content—than broadcast TV. Not just different shows, but a whole different category of shows.To be clear, you don’t have to act like a media company. There are plenty of great professional services businesses that sustain themselves just fine with referrals and a smattering of other bizdev activities that don’t involve producing a lot of content. But… if you adopt the mindset of a media company, you will:

  • Work hard to make sure any content you produce attracts a monetizable audience. You won’t blog (or podcast or whatever) casually or sloppily; you’ll produce interesting media that’s interesting and compelling to the right kind of people. People who are worried about risk, serious about change, eager to turn technology into business results, etc.
  • Think about the content you produce as a product. It will be free, but you’ll want it to be good enough that you could sell ads against it, or people would be willing to pay a subscription to access it even though you’re offering it for free.
  • Learn more about your audience. The quickest path to irrelevance for a media company is to lose touch with their audience. People who care deeply about music don’t care about MTV for this reason. People who love U2 mostly listen to their older albums for this reason. Incidentally, learning more about your audience has numerous other benefits, not just content-production benefits.
  • Commit to marketing in a deeper way. You’ll stop treating the act of connecting and building trust with prospects as an afterthought or a reactionary but unpleasant necessity and start treating it as vital to your business.

This media company mindset will accomplish two important things:

  1. Almost guarantee that you avoid producing shitty content marketing
  2. Accelerate the speed with which you cultivate a reputation in the market

In a way, this “thinking like a media” company thing happens in The Expertise Incubator.Check it out.-P