In the next of our 2022 round ups, we asked the TBI team about the challenges our customers and connections have experienced this year. Inevitably there are some prominent themes, notably open access, changing channel priorities, and a growing importance for brand. Don’t miss Lynne Miller’s top tips for brand strategy!
The migration to open access
Mithu: It’s been evident that 2022 has brought many publishers further challenges with open access implementation. Researchers are expecting more from their publishing experience, while funders and institutions want to see more evidence of value.
Tracy: The last few years have been very difficult for societies. There are financial concerns as a flip to open access is not without risk and many have also seen their events income decrease or even disappear. Trying to operate in these uncertain times at the same time as making strategic decisions about how best to serve their communities in a post pandemic world has led to many societies turning to consultancies like TBI to help them navigate the landscape.
Supporting clients with open access
Mithu: Understanding industry perspectives on open access and open research remains an area that clients are asking us for, as well as a deeper understanding of how to engage researchers with the right message. What this means in practice is in-depth reviews of how well marketing strategy aligns to author journeys and motivations; looking at the right mixture of channels; and aligning the right content for these.
Tracy: Many societies have seen this time as a real opportunity to review objectives, talk to their communities and make some decisions about their products and services. Revenue diversification and product development is another common theme. Clients are very interested in investigating new marketing strategies, channels, and techniques and TBI has been able to support them in the whole journey from strategic development to campaign implementation.
Kelly: OA has opened up opportunities for disseminating content which so often is at the heart of most organisations within our industry. However, the need to support discoverability has remained key; to make sure content is visible to the right community to ensure the potential of OA content is maximised.
Where to prioritise: channels, techniques, and impact
Kelly: We’ve increased support to help organisations understand where to place their often-limited resources. Rather than the broad-brush approach that was traditionally adopted, organisations are becoming increasingly focused on metrics that can be used to make decisions, but also demonstrate the impact of marketing against organisations’ key objectives. There is an openness to trial new channels to continue improving results, though direct spend remains a barrier for many: price increases of some channels are making testing with them challenging. Many organisations are looking for lower-cost options to test to help them decide where to place emphasis moving forwards.
Mithu: Another challenge I’ve seen is simply how to get the value of strategic marketing understood. It’s been clear that shifts in digital opportunities and the skillsets for these don’t necessarily mean much, if anything, to a non-marketer (although everyone has an opinion on what is good marketing!) Where we’ve been able to help is by giving more evidence and proof points to marketing teams to showcase their value to their stakeholders – internally and externally. Marketing has – and will continue – to change and we all need to be cheerleaders for that!
The brand nexus
Lynne: I would say brand development and strategy is a strong focus for the publishers we are working with. Open Access is driving us towards an ‘author economy’ where increasingly publishers and journals are competing to publish the work of the best authors. Brand is central to that, and I think along with improving services to authors, those two things in my opinion will underpin publisher and journal success over the next few years.
Mithu: I’ve also been struck by the number of broader strategic questions that are underpinned by a need to better understand brand equity. It’s going to be more and more important to understand how your brand is perceived, and how to fine tune brand stories that engage audiences and build loyalty.
Lynne’s top tips for strengthening your brand:
- Research – start with reviewing the competitive landscape, your market position and audience needs, so that you can start to build on current strengths and identify any negative aspects.
- Agree a differentiating ‘brand idea’ – use the insights from your research to explore a ‘brand idea’ that crystallises your values and strengths.
- Establish a value proposition and messaging for each of your key audiences that links to your ‘brand idea’.
- Develop a communications strategy with a programme of activities across multiple channels, and measure the results and impact.
The benefit of a strengthened brand is that you achieve more loyalty, more referrals, greater efficiencies for launching new products, less marketing cost for customer acquisition – the list goes on!
Don’t miss our last round up of the year, looking ahead to 2023! Follow TBI Communications to keep in touch.