Guest Column: Print needs Samurai leaders

Print players need the Samurai spirit, which is internally co-operative, collaborative, externally competitive & each player defends itself while being surrounded by hordes of aggressors, says Jwalant Swaroop, CEO, Oshoyana Consultants

e4m by Jwalant Swaroop
Updated: Jul 7, 2014 7:54 AM
Guest Column: Print needs Samurai leaders

It was pleasantly refreshing to meet some of my colleagues from the newspapers last week over drinks.  Since we met after a while there was much to share. A common concern was missing the first quarter projections despite heavy efforts and team play. 

I can now afford to step back and see industry affairs with an overall view. I slept over on the conversation I had with my friends only to wake up with a few realizations.

Cash Cows Lost

Print, especially the newspapers had best build-up of classifieds, tenders and appointment advertising. These were the cash cows. We have seen gradual drop in these categories and there is not much Print could do to stop the exodus.  While BCCL foreseeing the future, created classifieds and appointment portals but not many print players could invest in saving these categories.

Re-assessment of reality

It is important to re-assess the reality in light of changing media consumption and ever evolving digital threat. While in most conferences we hear some rule book terminology but when it comes to implement, Print is still to figure out the best way forward in terms of co-creating experience and engaging audiences in true sense.  While there is no right answer the real intent to experiment is far too less. Regional print landscape though is driver of the growth has all possible threats from the digital media.  Now that we have mobile in every hand Internet connectivity is no question the content is also playing up, apps are changing the dynamics. The regional lifestyle is much more metro than the metro itself. The Print engagement with  diverse audience sets is a huge challenge. The editorial makeovers in newspapers are good but are they delivering results?  Advertising projections have to sync with the new reality and astronomical growth expectations need to be reset.

Gestalt change

Come back to space marketing from space selling. It is important to co-create marketable concepts for newspapers and magazines than by just pushing numbers which are becoming extremely questionable by many clients and prudent agency fellows. Digital is growing only by adopting the early space marketing strategies of co-creating marketable concepts.  Innovations in design layouts are most beneficial to break the clutter but do they qualify to be marketable concepts is something which needs to be answered.  Co-created Marketable Concepts (CMC) should be specific brand solutions created with active participation of print teams. Why use newspapers in the campaign? Why do newspapers get higher share than other mediums? How can newspaper’s audience impact brand sales? If we have some compelling answers for these questions we are sure to co-create marketable concepts. 360-degree solutions are pegged today as brand solutions. I feel somewhere they are diluting the strength of print. Measuring print results has always been difficult. It is time for the industry to invest in robust result measurement tools beyond readership and circulation measurements.  Pricing is a major concern in the hyper buyers’ market. Protecting yields is a big challenge. This is also leading to a massive change in the profile of clients and quality of advertising in Print. It is time to become aware and change the gestalt.

The Samurai spirit

Samurai Spirit is internally co-operative and collaborative and externally competitive. Each player defends itself while it is surrounded by hordes of aggressors. 

Let me remind you of the Samurai game in which each player is a fierce samurai defending a village surrounded by a horde of bandits. The game plays out over three turns during which each player takes turns drawing bandit cards, then choosing whether they want to fight the bandit, defend the village, or let the bandit pass in order to help the other samurai.

The challenge of the game consists of balancing your choices: Should you fight each enemy to quickly reach your beast capacities, while also coming closer to the death and risking further loss by not defending the village sufficiently? Should you mainly defend or help the other samurai, taking the risk of remaining human too long and therefore weaker, when you know that weakness will be a major problem when facing the lieutenant and the villain bosses? Each enemy presents a tough choice to you, your team, and ultimately the whole village! Each turn ends with farms and fences being destroyed, and since those aren't unlimited, you must do what's necessary to end the game with at least one undamaged farm and enough farmers to tend it. Do you have what it takes to stand against evil and become a true hero?

Stop worrying about falling sales numbers, fight with courage, smartly assist your teammates, defend the Village (Print), turn into a savage beast, and wreak havoc on the enemy lines (competition)  — all of this is up to you! Ultimately it would be your honour to choose to die in a ultimate sacrifice in order to save the village (Print). All of this is what makes the true samurai spirit! My dear Folks, Print truly needs Samurai spirit in your leadership.

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