Are you making money the same way now as you were five years ago?
Have some of your prior revenue sources disappeared?
Have you created new revenue sources—new products, services, customers or geographies—to maintain your business growth?
The newspaper industry is an apt example of a sector where revenue sources have shifted—and shrunk—over time.
Newspapers used to rely on advertising and subscription sales, but as these revenue sources have dried up—with print ad revenue dropping from $44.9 billion in 2003 to $18.9 billion in 2012—publishers have worked hard to find new revenue sources, such as conferences and marketing services.
Amid all this turmoil, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo chose to purchase The Washington Post for $250 million dollars.
At the time, he conceded that the business looked “hopeless” from the outside, but called the newspaper a “black box” for experimentation and development.
Said Bezos, “There are so many knobs that can be turned and things we can experiment with, that I’m confident there’s something we can find that readers will love and will be engaged with—and that we can charge for.”
Since acquiring the Post, Bezos has indeed started to experiment. He has:
- Embedded technology positions directly within the sales team, so that software engineers sit side by side with journalists, working to innovate new value for customers.
- Taken steps to sell the Post’s back end content management system to local and regional newspapers.
- Shifted the Post’s news coverage away from local Washington DC events, and toward national and international news.
- Created visually appealing, magazine-style formatting for tablet users, and provided Amazon’s Kindle Fire users with a pre-installed package of unique morning and evening news.
- Hired 100 new journalists to support digital efforts, creating confidence and optimism among the staff.
- Hired the right editorial leadership to bring back the Post’s old journalistic mojo, to the point where New York Times media critic said, “The once-embattled newspaper is…turning the kind of reporting that journalists—and readers—live for.
If you are going to stay in business these days, you need to continuously evolve, change, and stay a step or two ahead of your competitors.
How is your industry changing, and what are you doing to experiment and adapt?
Adapted with permission of the publisher, Jossey-Bass, from The Agility Advantage: How to Identify and Act on Opportunities in a Fast-Changing World by Amanda Setili. Copyright (c) 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers. Read a sample chapter here.
Image credit: “Bezos’ Iconic Laugh” by Steve Jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.