First, the good news: It’s never been easier to create a niche-media platform. And now, the bad: You've never faced more competition in your efforts to make your platform profitable.
You need to be fast, flexible and unafraid to fail. How do you do that?
1. Move faster and smarter.
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With Civilized, we saw an opportunity to start a conversation we believed was missing among our competitiors in the cannabis culture. Once we realized the potential, it was like we hit the intersection with the lights turning green. We moved quickly to claim the space and establish ourselves as a leading voice.
But we knew that generating content -- even really great, really engaging, really smart content -- wouldn’t be enough. If we wanted to keep the lights on and pay the amazing people who create that content, we had to figure out a way to make our company profitable. This required us to look at strategic relationships that align with our brand and are good for our bottom line.
Advertising and audience development both go way beyond the banner ad. We're constantly exploring different channels, including events and sponsorships. “Moment marketing,” meaning digital campaigns connected to offline events, has been described as one of the top marketing trends of 2016. But, with millions of individual moments up for grabs, we need to make sure these connections count.
2. You can’t hurry love -- but you don’t have to wait.
While everything around us is moving at lightning speed, we've found that relationship-building still takes time. We're trying to get people to fall in love with us every day.
Sometimes it happens at first sight, but it often can take a few attempts. And, just like love, the slow burn that also can happen in business can lead to a deeper connection. We work daily to earn a place in our audience members' lives and make them feel a part of our community.
3. Be flexible, and ready to fail.
Earlier this year, Zenith Omnimedia projected that mobile-internet consumption would grow 28 percent in 2016. In North America, 72 percent of internet consumption is on mobile platforms. Building a niche media platform is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. We have to be agile enough to shift our approach in search of our audience, we've found. But it’s always about adjusting our approach, not abandoning our vision or brand for the next big thing.
We try to be ready and willing to interpret our brand and message in a lot of new ways -- and we realize that not all of them will work. If an idea tanks, we want to get the biggest possible return on failure. We do this through insights gained about our company, our community or our market.
4. Look around. Now, do it again.
We keep an eye on our past, present and future. We need to be able to quickly assess where we’ve come from. What have we done well? What will we do better now that we know better? We need to understand who's gaining on us. To recognize emerging opportunities, we need to project several moves ahead. Where is the space no one has discovered yet? How do we get there before it gets crowded?
I split my time between two coasts, so I spend a lot of time near the water. The ocean is never the same from moment to moment; it’s the same with media, especially in 2016. You’re not surveying a static landscape, you’re navigating a shifting sea. Read it wrong, and it will take you down. Read it right, and you can ride a rising tide.