Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
4 mins read

“Find an audience, craft journalism and monetize it”: Super Niche Media Conference 2022

Last week I had a moment of professional delight that is hard to express. What did I do you ask to get that feeling? Why I went to The Super Niche Media Conference in Old Town Alexandria. This was my first trade show since attending The FIPP World Conference in Las Vegas in November of 2019. My long-time readers will remember that in the old days I would hit between 6 and 8 trade shows a year. I truly forgot how much I loved trade shows.

This was my second trip to a Niche Conference, and I’m going to try to recap some of what I heard.  

First let me say that the name Niche is a little misleading. This conference is for anyone in publishing media, large or small. I heard many ideas, concepts and process reforms that would have been just as helpful for members of Hearst or Conde Nast employees as it was for the Niche attendees. 

What you do have at Niche is a room full of 250 scrappy media entrepreneurs.  

I will only cover a few of the meetings at the show.

The first breakout session I went to was a digital revenue workshop titled Digital Revenue Ideas hosted by my friend Eric Shanfelt of NearView Media. I have been watching Eric give this type of lecture for at least 15 years. He is very good at it.

Eric discussed a broad range of ideas. He expressed the need to differentiate yourself from your competitors and to ask the important question, “Why should someone spend money with you?” He suggested you should provide value and stats of proof of success.

He offered the idea of simplifying your sell sheet and repackaging and repricing it by raising rates on products with over 80% sell through and consolidating and dropping anything under a 60% sell through. Those moves make sense to me in their simplification and repricing. Eric suggested that switching from a rate card to total spend discount is a better way to offer pricing. That makes sense, too. Eric also suggested we shouldn’t take responsibility for clicks, because we can’t know if the creative is good or will work.

Here is an observation I need to do some research on. One of the most successful magazines I am aware of is Our State Magazine out of North Carolina published by my friend Bernie Mann. Bernie started in the radio business before applying his skills to publishing. Ryan Dohrn, the successful owner of Niche Media conferences, also started in radio. Although I didn’t start in radio, I started a newspaper first, and I did work for a radio station for a year or so.

What’s the observation? People who started in radio – admittedly a very small sample – seem to have done very well in our industry. Which brings me to a Keynote lecture from Mike Blinder, the owner of Editor and Publisher Magazine. Mike also started in Radio.

Mike Blinder told the story of another radio man named Mike Joseph who invented top 40 radio. It seems his idea of playing the same songs over and over again was thought by management to be a bad idea. Turns out it wasn’t. What both Mikes said is, “Find out what they want and give it to them”.

Mike Blinder suggested that you have a mission statement that you live by. Find an audience, craft journalism and monetize it. He said that we should all under promise and over deliver, which are words that I try to live by.

Ryan Dohrn, again the Founder of Brain Swell Media and owner of the Niche Media Conference, ran a breakout session titled “Profiling Strategies to Connect and Convert Advertisers”, subtitled “Using FBI profiling strategies to be a killer salesperson.” An intriguing title that when explained turns out to be accurate.

Like any competent speaker, Ryan started out making some attention-getting humorous observations.

“Psychopaths make up one percent of the population.
Advertisers also make up one percent of the population.” 

Then Ryan went pointed out that Salespeople stalk their prey. He suggested that salespeople sell the way they want to be sold to regardless of who they are talking to.

But that isn’t an effective strategy. He suggested you have to change your approach to the personality of the client, and he told us how to do that. 

Ryan says there are three types of buyers.

  • Ego buyers
  • Logic buyers
  • Emotional buyers 

What Ryan was getting at is a benign form of corporate surveillance. He said that a good salesperson should look up on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook the profiles and actions of the perspective client to find out which of the 3 personality types they might be and adjust the sales pitch accordingly.

This is a type of FBI profiling analysis, but instead of profiling crooks, we profile clients to understand them better. 

I guess proof that I’ve been in the industry for a lifetime is knowing so many people at the show.  I knew 90% of the vendors and sponsors of the show on a first-name basis. It was great seeing so many old friends.

Many thanks to Ryan and the Super Niche staff who did a great job. For the record, Ryan asked and I accepted the invitation to give a keynote at the next Niche Conference which will be in New Orleans in 2023.

Bo Sacks

President, Precision Media Group

This commentary originally appeared on Bo Sacks daily newsletter and is re-published with kind permission. You can subscribe to Bo’s e-newsletter here.