Having a compelling value proposition will help in every aspect of your publishing business. It’s something that every member of your team should know by heart, whether they work in sales, editorial, marketing, or any other department.
A value proposition is a straightforward statement that summarizes why a reader would choose your publication over any other. It should communicate the benefit that readers receive by signing up for paid subscriptions or memberships on your site, and it should highlight what makes your publication different from competitors.
What is your publication bringing to the table that’s different from anyone else, and how does what you’re bringing to the table benefit your readers or advertisers? If you’re not sure what your value proposition is, you’re not alone.
Local news sites tend to lag behind other sources of online content when it comes to subscription rates. One of the strategies that we know can help publishers increase their subscription rates is to promote a clear and compelling value proposition to readers.
Maybe your publication features more original local reporting than anyone else. Maybe you’ve got an award-winning investigative team working on new projects. Maybe you’re publishing in real-time as breaking news happens, rather than making readers wait until the morning newspaper is printed to find out what’s going on. Your publication has value. As the publisher, it is your job to define exactly what that value is.
Once you have assessed your own value proposition, ask yourself whether this is something readers will appreciate. For example, if you’re publishing longer articles than anyone else in your niche, ask yourself whether that is something readers care about. Is having long articles enough of a reason to get someone to subscribe? Probably not. Your value proposition should be something that drives readers to pay for annual subscriptions and memberships.
Take time to actually write down the value proposition that you’ve got in your head. It doesn’t have to be long. Even just a few simple sentences can be enough to clarify the way you plan to run your business.
As you brainstorm ideas, ask yourself these questions, developed by Harvard Business School:
- Which readers are you serving?
- Which needs are you trying to meet?
- What subscription price will provide acceptable value and acceptable profitability?
Consider this basic formula for writing a value proposition: “We help (A) do (B) by (doing C).”
Your answer will clearly depend on the specifics of your publication. For example, a local news site might write something like: “We help (local residents) learn about (local businesses) by (hosting an online business directory).” Similarly, a niche online magazine might write something like: “We help (attorneys) learn about (client relations) by (publishing high-quality articles).”
Success and Motivation
The most successful digital publishers are able to meet their readers’ needs and motivate them to learn even more. Research has shown that sustainable membership-driven publications connect individuals to larger shared purposes. How do you do that?
One way to connect your readers to a larger shared purpose is by framing your subscription or membership program in a way that appears to restore what “feels broken” about the state of the news industry. Give your readers a reason to feel optimistic about your endeavors and a reason to want to get involved.
Bringing readers together is another key component as you work to define a compelling value proposition. A few ways to do that include:
- Launching special members-only Facebook groups
- Hosting in-person or virtual meetups
- Inviting members to tour the newsroom
- Sending members-only email newsletters
How else can you make members feel included, besides inviting them to exclusive events? One way is by changing the language you use in your communication with subscribers and members. For example, consider using words like “we” and “us” when describing your community. Just a simple turn of phrase goes a long way in cultivating a sense of affiliation, and it helps you create more value in your online memberships.
High-quality journalism will always provide value, but in today’s hyper-competitive digital publishing space, the most successful publishers are going a step further. Developing and actually writing down a value proposition is one of the ways to make your publication stand apart from the pack.
To learn more about building your digital publication from the ground up, contact Web Publisher PRO today.