My top 10 highlights from SIPA Washington

Specialized Information Publishers Association logoThis week I was really pleased to attend the recent Specialized Information Publishers Association annual conference in Washington. Many of the sessions could be blog posts on their own but I don’t really have time to write them all up so, instead I wanted to give a list of my top 10 takeaways.

  1. The icebreaker recruitment challenge. When hiring salespeople Richard Londesborough of Business Monitor explained the development of their assessment centres. Generally they try to screen the initial batch of candidates into a group of around 15 people who show promise. These candidates are then put through to a half day assessment centre where they are paired off with eachother. The pairs are set an icebreaker challenge of meeting eachother for 2 minutes and having to pitch back their partner to the group.
  2. Create a holiday. If you have a product line that needs a boost then Adam Goldstein of NIBM recommended that you declare an ‘official week’ and gave the example of HR Professionals Week that they had in Singapore but not in the US. You can then bundle a package of products, webinars and events into a week long period and offer time limited discounts. It gives extra emphasis to your marketing and a real opportunity to excite your customers and prospects.
  3. Don’t call virtual events ‘webinars’ if you want to charge. Torry Burdick of Mortgage Success Source talked about the success they were having with virtual events but recommended that the word ‘webinar’ had become too associated with sponsor led, free to attend events. To charge a registration fee she recommended coming up with another name.
  4. Delve into your site analytics to get new product ideas. Matt Bailey of SiteLogic gave a great presentation looking at the site analytics reports of a travel company to see what people were searching for. From this his client got a wide range of of ideas of existing reports that should be featured more prominently on their site and also new products to create.
  5. Look to syndicate other people’s content on your pages. David Schwartz of 2Market Information suggested that publishers look for other organisations in their field who provide content but don’t necessarily think of themselves as publishers. He highlighted consultancy firms, lawyers & academics as rich seams of content. His company approached these firms and re-packaged / co-branded content to sell – generally at premium rates and on a 50/50 split.
  6. Apply ‘good enough’ technology & publish fast. In a great presentation Kevin Delaney from the Wall St Journal talked about the importance of speed-to-market for news providers in a web-first operation. The WSJ set up a speedy@wsj e-mail address for reporters to file to and gave their journalists simple Kodak Z18 video cameras to record stories on. He highlighted the success of the WSJ Now edition on the iPad which auto updates in the style of the paper every 30 minutes.
  7. Change what you call your journalists. Another tip from Richard Londesborough at Business Monitor. As the company had developed its online information services all of the editors had been re-named analysts. Richard said that this gave a higher perceived value to their content and also encouraged customers to contact the company for consulting level services.
  8. Make sure your mobile products are suitable for an Android platform. James McQuivey of Forrester Research suggested that Android would be the dominant smart-phone mobile platform by 2011.
  9. Your audience development team should evolve to take on an analyst role. Sean Griffey of FierceMarkets gave a great case study of how online metrics formed the bedrock of his company. Their audience development team circulated the best performing headlines of the week around their team. All editors were targeted and bonused on key metrics like open rates for their newsletters and internal teams competed each week by product.
  10. Don’t assume the old product pyramid still applies. Publishing models traditionally look at their audience in a pyramid with prospects being taken on a journey from casual to registered user, paid customer and then consulting client. David Foster of BVR said that because of well-optimised sites they were seeing more and more clients coming straight in at the top level. He recommended that you highlight your premium services prominantly.

All in all it was a great conference. Huge credit goes to Andy McLaughlin & Matt Salt for their work in putting together such an engaging programme.

If you’re interested in seeing more of what SIPA events offer please remember that the SIPA UK Congress takes place in London on 12th & 13th of July. I recommend anyone in the European specialist information industry makes a point of coming along.



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3 responses to “My top 10 highlights from SIPA Washington

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention My top 10 highlights from SIPA Washington « Rory Brown --

  2. Great info, Rory! Thanks.
    P.S. I’m not sure Steve Jobs will loose the battle against Android, but we’ll find out very soon:-) See you at SIPA London.

  3. Hey Rory, good thoughts. It was nice to meet you. Hope to see you in Miami in the Fall.

    The “good enough” insight is really important. Some publishers kill themselves trying to find “perfect.”

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