Using Newsweek’s Move To Digital To Inform Your 2013 Strategy

It’s that time of year to review your growth plans, see what’s working, and get rid of what’s not working. So take a few cues (or words of warning) from Tina Brown, who recently shut down the print edition of Newsweek and moved to an all-digital format.

It’s that time of year to review your growth plans, see what’s working, and get rid of what’s not working. Some of your choices will not be popular. Yet they could be the difference between success and long term survival.

Let’s look at Editor In Chief Tina Brown from Newsweek Daily Beast. Last week, she announced that they would stop distributing the Newsweek print edition on December 31. In spite of their 80 year history and industry recognition, their continued market decline forced Brown to made a tough decision.

If you look beneath the headlines, you will see that the transition to a complete digitial news platform was long overdue. Newsweek already has 44,000 iPad subscribers. Brown says they will quickly transfer print subscribers to Newsweek digital.

In addition, The Daily Beast has created a strong following and many treat it as their primary news site. It has grown 70% within the past year. They have a platform that they can expand.

What are the implications for B2B executives and your 2013 growth plans?

  1. Be willing to fail fast. Brown let Newsweek languish behind Time for two years after the Daily Beast and Newsweek merger, and did not take action. According to Michael Wolff, a journalist for The Guardian, “The Economist is a business-focused title with a high circulation price, whereas Newsweek is for middle America and has long steeply discounted its subscription price.” It costs $42M/year to print, design and distributes the print version. That does not include the cost of hiring and sustaining good journalists. What if Brown had taken that $84M and invested in other innovative assets?
  2. Spread initiatives — “seeds”– and let them germinate. Guy Kawasaki’s famous saying in “The Art of the Start” is “Let a thousand flowers bloom.” Try new, lower cost initiatives with partners, digital content providers, and other industry leaders in your space. You never know what aspect of your growth strategy will gain traction. Continuously review your portfolio of offerings and look for unmet needs or needs your customers have not yet even imagined.
  3. Make a splash with your cover. In your B2B business, that “cover” may be your website, office entrance, business cards, and other visible brand touch points. Brown and her team had a penchant for designing magazine covers that, in her words, “incite conversation and launch something into the world.”


Be careful to avoid self-parody. Some would argue that certain Newsweek covers such as “Muslim Rage” were more ridiculous than provocative.

  1. Stop wasting time selling outdated, unprofitable commodities. Create a grid that lists your commoditized, competitive, and breakthrough offerings. Be sure to map all products, services, and key relationships. Which ones can you expand upon, and which ones deserve to be sold or scrapped? Clearly, Newsweek was a commoditized product with little or no differentiation. The Daily Beast is a competitive online curator with potential for growth.

Tina Brown motivates us to redline our own products, services, and relationships. We have the power to re-write our narrative before 2013 arrives. Carpe diem.

Related Posts:

The Cure for Content-Creation Madness

Why CMOs are Facing Extinction

Is Inertia Winning Over Innovation?


[Inline images courtesy of Newsweek]

[Image: Flickr user Hartwig HKD]

This post originally appeared in FastCompany

copyright 2012, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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