Takeaways from Specialized Information Publishers Association 2017 SIPA Conference

SIPA Conference 2017 Summary | Sterling Woods Group

Publishers from around the world converged on Washington, D.C., for the 41st Annual SIPA Conference, with one major theme in mind: Grow Now.

In case you missed it, here’s what the conference organizers said were some of the main takeaways from the event.

Women in the Workplace and Membership Models

Elizabeth Peterson, President of H3.Group, recognized the importance of discussions around women in the workplace (the roundtable sessions on that topic were over-subscribed!) and encouraged leaders to not shy away from more of such discourse.

She also noted the fact that many publishers are moving toward a membership model.

Customer-Centric, Data-Driven

Greg Hart, Director of Marketing, PSMJ Resources, underscored the criticality of being more customer-centric and more data-driven. Several sessions reiterated the mantra: “Focus on the [customer’s] problem, not the product.”

In a breakout session, Krystle Kopacz, CEO, Revmade, shared a process she has used in which she invites in eight customers and asks them to grade new concepts from “A” to “F.” She then pilots ideas with folks who gave out “A’s.”

Sell Benefits to Your “Whales”

Adam Goldstein, Publisher at Business Management Daily, reminded us to spend less time selling features, more time selling benefits. He also gave a nod to my speech about focusing on your “whales,” given a small number of your customers will generate a hugely disproportionate amount of your revenues. For example, in gaming, 4% of customers drive 48% of sales. (Thanks for the recognition, Adam!)

Cross-Functional Alignment

Stephanie Williford, CEO, EB Medicine, spoke about how critical it is to align editorial, sales, and marketing. “It’s not us versus them. It’s about growing the business together.”


And, finally, Tom Gale, President of Gale Media, focused on the importance of diversifying your revenue streams. He mentioned his subscriptions have gone from 95% to 25% of total sales over the past 10 years. He believes there is still more publishers can do to package information in new and useful ways.

Create a Process for Innovation

The organizers did an outstanding job summarizing the event. I would like to add one additional takeaway: the importance of having a process for innovation. In one breakout session, I heard the most common roadblock: “We don’t have time.”

I’d like to encourage all leaders out there to make time for innovation. The “not enough time” roadblock is one I know well. Unfortunately, I have seen too many media executive teams proclaim how important innovation is, but when you look at their list of top initiatives, few if any of them have to do with new product development. But making time for innovation isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. As I’ve said in the past, if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.

If you missed us in D.C., don’t sweat it. There’s always next year! We’ll see you again at the SIPA Conference, June 5-7, 2018, held again in Washington.