How the Success of Boeing’s 787 Applies to Digital Media

What Digital Publishers Can Learn from Boeing

Have you been on a Boeing 787 (“Dreamliner”) yet? It was announced this week that Boeing has already sold more 787s than it has 767s. That’s impressive because the 787 has only been around since 2011 while the 767 has been in existence for 39 years!

You might be surprised by the success of the 787. It’s not as flashy as the double-decker Airbus A380 or supersonic Concorde. But, unlike the A380 or Concorde, the 787 is undoubtedly a huge hit.

How Listening to Two Types of Customers Led to the Product’s Success

What did Boeing get right? It solved the needs of its two constituents: its direct customers (airlines) and the end consumers (the passengers).

Airlines love the 787 because it is designed to drive profits. First of all, it’s 25% more fuel efficient than most commercial airliners. Efficiency is a big deal since fuel is one of the largest cost line items airlines face. The aircraft also has a long flying range for a medium-sized aircraft, meaning the airlines can better manage capacity on its more profitable, longer routes.

Passengers, on the other hand, love the Dreamliner because it solves some of the common pain points associated with flying. Its engines are quieter than average, overhead bins are more spacious, special air filters remove illness-inducing microorganisms, pressurization system minimizes jet lag, and large windows and mood lighting appeal to us aesthetically.

OK, but What Does This Have to Do With Digital Media?

In digital media, you have two constituents, too: your advertisers and your audience.

Ask yourself: The last time you launched something new or made a big change, did you do it because it sounded flashy—like the gigantic A380 or uber-speedy Concorde? Or did you do it because you knew it simultaneously met the needs of your direct and end consumers?

To satisfy your advertisers, you need to really understand their business model, and then find a way to help them grow revenue or reduce costs. Can you directly drive more customers to their website or store? Or perhaps you can help them get the same results on a smaller marketing budget? Is it possible to discover a hidden set of new customers for them? You need to understand their model and their customers to successfully answer these questions.

And the same thing goes for your end consumers. Do you know what type of content they are seeking and, more importantly, why? Or is your editorial team too focused internally? When is the last time you spoke directly to a handful of your readers, surveyed them, or used tools such as Google Trends or Answer the Public to see which topics in your niche are trending?

Be honest with yourself. Share the success story of the Boeing 787 with your team. See what you can do to better meet the needs of both of your constituents at the same time.

How the Sterling Woods Group Can Help

We use our proprietary approach to help clients unearth the wants and needs of their constituents—then convert these wants and needs into new products and services that radically grow the bottom line. Contact us for a free diagnostic.

About the Author, Rob Ristagno

Rob Ristagno is the founder of The Sterling Woods Group and partners with companies to drive rapid digital revenue growth. The key is a successful digital membership program. Prior to creating Sterling Woods, Rob served as a senior executive for several niche media and e-commerce companies. Rob started his career as a consultant at McKinsey and holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College. He has taught Product Strategy at Boston College.