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Always Play the Trifecta

  |  April 29, 2011   |  Comments

If you are in digital publishing, you have three powerful forces that all play a role in defining what your strategy should be, and how to best drive success.

When I was 16 my boyfriend took me to the dog races. I wanted to bet $2 on dog number six "CutiePie." Being a 16-year-old girl on a date with her boyfriend, "CutiePie" was the obvious choice. My boyfriend said "Remember one thing…always play the trifecta. It might be easier, simpler, and faster, and possibly even make more sense to go for the sure-thing, single winner. But, in the long run, the multivariate strategy pays dividends when you get it right."

I took my money and bet $2 on CutiePie. My boyfriend played the trifecta with number six. CutiePie won! I won $12 and he won $278.

Twenty-five years later I still find myself reflecting on that conversation. It continues to hold true. And now, in my current role as the global executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Zinio and at VIVmag, it is truer than ever!

Digital publishing is a new and growing field. One that hasn't even been plowed yet. And for those of us running through it, we have a tremendous opportunity to define the future of our industry. This column will explore timely conversations in digital publishing. And, if I do my job the right way, it will help educate, entertain, and inspire you on how to leverage learning to improve your brand's performance. (So please, help a girl out and post, retweet, and tell others to keep reading.)

For this first column I thought for a long time about what the topic should be. I ended on "play the trifecta," because realistically, that is where our world is right now. And, it's the best advice I can give.

If you are in digital publishing, you have three powerful forces that all play a role in defining what your strategy should be, and how to best drive success. These are:

  1. The content that is driving adoption of your digital product: do your readers love real-time content, videos, photo galleries, older bundles, a specific topic, a specific writer? What is making the consumer crave your digital content?
  2. The device they are most likely using to read your content: if your target is middle America moms, college age students, or women in Japan, chances are they have a smartphone. If your target is a frequent traveler, pilot, or ER nurse, they most likely have an iPad. If your target is a baby boomer, most likely they are still using a laptop, on their way to getting a gift of a tablet. People buy, read, and engage with digital content very differently based on the device they use. This means, time of day for purchase, average value of purchase, and frequency.
  3. The country of the target reader: even if you are an advertiser who only cares about eyeballs in the U.S., global merchandising of digital content is 100 percent impossible to ignore. Understanding what countries are most interested in the content you are producing is a critical factor that defines success.

Imagine this: you are producing a digital magazine about woodworking. Your target reader is a man in the southern states, who does at least four home improvement projects a year. What is your digital strategy? Answering these three questions will guarantee success.

Content: Woodworkers love watching demos of new techniques - do you have video to share? Can people send in videos of their own "tips and tricks"?

Device: Your woodworking target is a man who has a day job. He has a laptop at work that he brings home. He has a smartphone too - but not a fancy one - this means most buying and browsing will happen during work hours (evenings and weekend will be spent working on the projects). He's looking and buying on a computer. And, he is taking his laptop to wherever he is working so he can refer to the content.

Country: Yes, your target is in the U.S., but, did you know that men in country XXX often do multiple home improvement projects from May to October? If your content contains lots of videos, language is not a barrier. Hmm. Could this be a new market for you?

Jeanniey's digital rule no. 1: always play the trifecta. It will returns dividends over time.

What digital rules have you found to drive phenomenal returns?



Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition. 

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