There's no doubt that newspapers are in a fight for their lives. What will the newspaper industry look like 5 or even 10 years from now? It's tough to say for certain, but it will almost definitely involve less paper and more online presence.
The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) just released a set of 66 predictions from newspaper executives that pertain to the future of their businesses. Here are just a few examples:
- Infotainment, with games, DVDs, tickets, samples and other non-traditional products becoming an increasingly important component of the media offering.
- Changing demographics, with more single households, older people and non-traditional families.
- Growing choice, with an infinite number of options making it hard to decide what products and services to buy.
- User-generated content that provides opportunities for self-expression and social interaction.
- Consumer power, where the customer is taking control over brands and information flows on the internet.
- Mobile devices becoming faster, smaller and user-friendly.
- The growing importance of social networks.
- Multi-channel strategies and the diminishing differences between types of news media.
What stood out to me is that a number of these trends are not relegated solely to the newspaper industry. I think much of what they've mentioned is also relevant to marketing executives across many sectors of the business world.
Information continues to explode and hyper-disperse at an alarming pace. Just last night, a client was opining that he just doesn't have the resources to put staff in every channel of communication that his customers use; it's too fractured.
Certainly the ultimate challenge for every marketing executive will not be how to participate in the myriad of new media channels (although that will be one ongoing concern), but rather which ones are the best to deploy resources against.
It would be foolhardy of me to make any channel predictions at this point, so I'll keep my judgment to trends that transcend any fads or sites that are currently in favor.
- Be flexible; people are becoming used to consuming information and entertainment when and where they like. The more options you provide, the more likely you'll be able to keep their attention.
- Be unique; even if you're only serving a small audience or customer base, you'll have a dedicated following that can grow into a cadre of brand ambassadors.
- Provide value beyond your own offering to promote loyalty. If you don't happen to have that truly unique product, consumers can get information or a me-too product from the next guy. Take a risk. Offer something that perhaps doesn't promote your product or service directly, but gives an unexpected additional value to your customer.
Image credit: WorldIslandinfo.com (Flickr)