Celebrating an anniversary is all well and good – but it’s also the perfect time for reflection. And so, to coincide with Texere's 10th anniversary, I’ve put together this (non-definitive) list of lessons we’ve learned along the way.
1. Pick a good reason to be different
Being different can be fun and interesting but it can also draw criticism or even (micro)aggression. So, if you’re going to be different – and in most kinds of business that’s essential (“differentiator” and USP are more than just buzzwords) – you need a good reason. I can think of no better reason than identifying an interesting gap and developing something special to fill or bridge it. Where there is genuine unmet need, marketing (and money) comes more easily. I suppose that’s what “vision” really means…
2. Go big (or go home?)
Once you’ve decided to be different, you may need to push the boundaries even further to make a few waves. When we published our first “Power List” (celebrating 100 influential individuals in analytical science), we ducked behind our virtual parapet, fully expecting a volley of flaming arrows. We got the opposite. Yes, the concept raised eyebrows, but it also raised our profile. Most importantly, it fed into our vision – with a strong emphasis on celebrating rather than dividing a community… How can you shake up the market – in a good way?
3. Don’t let the tail wag the dog
Once you’ve grabbed the attention of an audience or market, don’t forget who’s really in charge. By continually asking questions – and really listening to the answers – your vision will trot along nicely with a happy, wagging tail (hint: you’re the tail).
Put another way, never stop respecting your stakeholders (for us, that’s our readers, contributors, and commercial partners). Craft all your messages with their needs and expectations in mind.
4. Quality will out
Doing something well is not easy – and nor should it be. It takes time, thought, and more time; unfortunately, the investment is not always immediately obvious. But consider the brands you really love – I’m willing to bet they share one thing in common: consistent quality.
Whether you’re pushing out products or assessing incoming services, I’d argue that the word quality should never stray far from your thoughts.
5. Test. Analyze. Repeat
Optimization is a journey with a shifting destination. Use all the tools at your disposal to check you’re going in the right direction – and at the right speed. But don’t be too alarmed if you’re not; simply recalibrate and continue. If you’re collecting and analyzing data often enough, you won’t be too far off track.
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6. Expect the unexpected. Or react fast…
It’s hard to ignore the COVID-19 pandemic as a major event of the last decade. So you’re probably no stranger to this lesson. Few people predicted a pandemic of such magnitude and impact, so don’t beat yourself up over a lack of contingency planning. The big question is: did you respond quickly and appropriately? If not, take your own moment to reflect on how it could have gone better. What would you do in hindsight? (Bear it in mind for next time…)
7. “Stick to your knitting”…
If you’ve found a successful approach, don’t stop doing it to the best of your ability. It’s easy to get sidetracked by something shiny and new – “big projects” with “huge potential” (especially if you work with overly optimistic colleagues) – but if you start getting the proven – perhaps even routine – stuff wrong, there is a risk of losing the trust of your best customers.
8. ...But branch out into crochet every once in a while
That said, who can blame anyone for wanting to diversify a little. I’d suggest finding an adjacent or complementary area and then seeking additional resources to explore, while sparing your successful knitting empire. (Don’t forget number 5.)
9. Trends come and go by definition
In 2012, the small team at Texere knew that an iPad app on the Newsstand was an essential component of our launch plan. :-|
In 2022, we’re focused on content-rich newsletters for niche audiences. In 2022, we’re still printing magazines – though with a slightly reduced frequency.
In 2022, Commercial Director Rick Hodson’s iPad sits on a shelf with his favorite reading material, waiting for a long-haul flight (see snapshot below).
10. Sorry. Did I say 10 things?
I’m afraid I’ve lured you all the way down here with an empty promise.
Rather than providing a number 10, I’d like you to share one lesson you’ve learned in the past decade. I’ll share the best with you all in a future Science of Media newsletter. Simply email: email@example.com.
And if you really need a number 10: Know when you’ve said enough!