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Although I’ve attended and enjoyed the Niche Media Conference in the past, I was a first-timer to the Niche Digital conference in Denver this past September. I recognized some similarities immediately. The attendees were attentive, enthusiastic, and very interested in gaining information and perspective from a deep and impressive group of industry experts.

Every session I attended had an entrepreneurial vibe, whether publisher- or advertiser-focused. The clear challenge everyone is facing is how to maintain and grow their business in a crowded content environment. For publishers, it means focusing on the readers and learning how to monetize the loyalty within the audience, across conventional print and electronic content channels. On the ad sales side, it’s about selling both an audience and a winning communication strategy to advertisers, as opposed to selling advertising inventory.

Three presentations really resonated with me. I’ll hit the highlights…

“Loyalty is the Ultimate Consumer Currency” by Brad Fayfield

  • Brad built a print niche publication and cultivated a loyal audience, which he successfully promoted to advertisers.
  • The market began to evolve from print ads to online ads.
  • Brad’s publication transitioned from an advertising platform to a communication channel, where advertisers can connect to a highly loyal audience.
  • Brad sees his role as gatekeeper, vetting the content that advertisers are able to deliver to his audience.
  • The loyal readership relies on Brad to ensure that the content they receive, editorial or otherwise, is of the quality they expect.

“Creating Your Digital Sales Story” by Ryan Dohrn

  • Ryan shared actionable tactics for improving the sales process and the outcome from the perspective of an ad sales representative.
  • My 3 favorite points from Ryan’s presentation are:
    • Work as hard to keep business as you did to win it in the first place
    • Advertisers (prospects) buy when they are ready to buy, not when you are ready to sell, and
    • We are teachers first and sales people second, with the underlying message that selling a complex process requires a simple message. Regarding simplified messages, Einstein (not Ryan) advised, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

“Lessons from the Startup World” by Jay Acunzo

  • Jay energized and entertained the audience, and his passion for his topic came through.
  • His theme was about breaking the mold of convention and laying it all on the line in order to succeed in today’s publishing market.
  • Jay’s approach is to go “full stack”, meaning doing a range of actions that go beyond simply following best practices. As he said, best practices can make you good, but breaking the mold can make you great.
  • Regarding innovation, Jay stressed the importance of evaluating a current process in order to identify and remove unnecessary steps, thereby improving the audience experience.

So, that’s just a little of my take on Niche Digital. Beyond that, I strongly recommend that special interest publishers check out any Niche Media event. The formula really works: 200 or so niche publication publishers anxious to share and learn from one another + the industry’s best leaders and speakers armed with tested tips, advice, and case studies = a results-based don’t-miss event. Viva la Niche difference!