The Internet is a perfect service provider – but it needs helping hands who will turn this achievement into something that can be grasped by humans, both in terms of speed and in terms of portioning. Most of us do not have professional, industrial-scale coffee makers in our homes, but machines that are based on pads or on capsules. Of course the coffee is better, and the price per cup is lower if you use a professional, industrial-scale machine, but still people buy pads and capsules. Why? Because they are simpler, faster, and more convenient, and that is what most of us are paying the higher price for. We pay for benefits. It is up to the content providers to realize this.
There is a rule of three for content providers on the Internet: First, make the user your center of attention, second, provide additional benefit, and third, make access to pay-content quick and easy. Of course user privacy has to be respected, but that is contained in point one.
Content providers have to be service-oriented, if they want to make money, and they ought to ask themselves this question: “How do I sell benefits?” respectively “How do I serve my users with my content in such a way that they will not only see it as a service, but that they will also see a clear benefit that they will be prepared to spend money for?”
Mobile Games and its many games for beginners or occasional players is a good example for explaining the success of game providers on the Internet. The principle rule for any game to be successful is simple: “seconds to learn, years to master”, i.e. it won’t take me more than a few seconds to get into the game and to be able to play and to understand the game – but it will take me years to become really good at it. My play instinct will feed my urge to become better and better – because the game provides a challenge.
The same is true for journalistic content. I am not a publisher, therefore I look at content as a consumer, not as a professional. I buy an issue of a magazine because I want to be surprised and challenged. There is always a challenge – that can come in the form of a polarizing opinion or of an explanation, or it will make me think – and that is what I will pay for, no matter in what medium or in what kind of presentation, no matter if I buy from a newsstand or on the Internet (if only it were possible).
News is a little bit more difficult, because news is seen as a commodity on the Internet – as kind of a service to society. You only have a product if news comes wrapped in added value. Issues repeat themselves and archives are full. That means correlations have to be found, explanations have to be delivered, and complexity has to be reduced.
Premium content such as dossiers, videos, excerpts from studies, expert opinions – all that goes beyond mere news and will broaden the user’s mind.
News plus a spoken variety represent added value.
News plus a summary in 2 sentences represent added value.
News plus an explanatory video (from the archive) represent added value.
Content providers have the power to reduce complexity and to deliver added value, and therefore they have a product that I would be willing to pay for.
Bloggers and self-publishers have been the early adopters of content marketing on the Internet, and they have demonstrated various options: They try certain things, then they enhance them and develop their offering further. Publishers should do likewise: See the Internet as a service platform, try things, enhance them, and develop a digital offering.
There are plenty of ideas, models and approaches. What is missing is a change of perspective. To see the Internet as a service platform means seizing its many opportunities and becoming active in shaping the marketplace.
There is one thing content providers have to realize before they even get started, though, and that is: On the Internet, even the biggest publisher is a start-up.