A magazine publisher called us in because, she said, they were not achieving the level of success that she wanted at her company. She believed her staff was at fault. But she asked me to analyze things to find out who were the main offenders. I started by meeting separately with key staff members: the ad sales director, the circulation marketing manager, and the editor-in-chief.
When I met with the ad sales director, I asked him, "What's wrong here?" He replied that his sales team was doing a great job selling advertising. The problem is that the circulation manager was selling subscriptions to the wrong people, to people without an interest in buying what was advertised. As a result, advertisers would go away when they got little response to their ads.
Then, I met with the circulation marketing manager and asked her, "What's wrong here?" She indicated that her department did extensive testing and had developed highly targed marketing approaches that were very successful at bringing in new readers. The problem is that the editor was writing to a different audience. The articles he was publishing didn't resonate with the new readers, and they rarely renewed.
Finally, I met with the editor-in-chief. I asked him, "What's wrong here?" He said that he and his staff did a masterful job of creating highly interesting and insightful articles. The problem is that the ad director is filling the magazine with irrelevant advertisements, and the marketing manager was selling subscriptions to the wrong audience.
Each of these key managers believed that he or she was doing a good job. And, from what I could see of their work, they were right. The ad sales team was doing an effective job of salesmanship. The subscription marketing group was using the best practices in subscription sales. The editorial staff was producing really excellent articles.
What was wrong there was that there was no unified strategy. There was no synergy. Each department had its own vision for the magazine. But the visions didn't match up. If ever there was a need for a unified strategy, it was with this company.