The Right-Brain 'Art' of Sales vs. the Left-Brain 'Analytic' – Musings on Media from the 'Sell' Side, with Occasional Forays into Music…and Wine
Conde’ Conundrum, or Publishing Pratfalls…
Where CN is concerned, these are the questions that I cannot pass up: Why did Conde’ Nast hire an outside firm like McKinsey to help them fix/analyze their business? Don’t they have the talent in-house to do that? Isn’t there a Consulting firm ‘in the biz’ that would have been better suited to address the issues that CN faces? My all-time favorite newspaper, the NY Observer, has the story.
As a background observation, it is interesting to note the process that brought them on. In the case of this great publishing giant, it is apparently so that when you arrive into the upper ranks, you are allowed to finally admit your shortcomings, making the case that the ‘fate of the organization’ is at stake [can you say ‘Too Big to Fail’ here?] and then bring in the “Consultants” to either fix everything, or take the blame later. [To be fair, this is also true with most other firms.] A Perfect System…Sort of.
What the effect is on companies as a result of all this is incalculable. In reality, the questions posed above are valid, clear-eyed ones, being asked in the shining light of transparency, to borrow from a former Supreme Court justice.
[As an aside to the rest of the Media world, the parallel to this of course, is the scapegoating of our beloved Ad Agencies by the corporate Marketing team, which is a given staple of the biz, rightly or wrongly.]
Now for those of us on the MediaSales side [which is really my main interest here, of course] comes the final question that I see NO ONE else asking. It is this: Instead of hiring McKinsey…instead of closing a now-growing number of Titles…had anybody thought about a “change” to CN’s long-standing ‘No Discount from Rate Card’ policy?
Thought about it? Hell, even suggested it outright? More, did anybody think about analyzing how much revenue that that would have SAVED for Conde’? [Saved in the sense of not going away to another publisher or mag firm like Hatchette.] And, what about going forward? These “lost” revenue streams also cannot be counted on in the future; they are now N/A. Wall Street loves to talk about The Present (Discounted) Value of Future Revenue Streams, a la’ Warren Buffett. Guess what that amount comes to for CN? $0. Zero.
No, I don’t see that discussion anywhere. Had McKinsey’s no-doubt-exorbitant fee been…”absorbed” …by Rate-card reductions or negotiations, what would have happened? Sure, losses would be there, but at what level?
This analysis is not meant to be simplistic, favoring only the Sales effort. I just think the review may not have been fully rounded, and so big money may have been left on the table [albeit at lower margins, true] never to be seen, or to return. Alas, Conde’ Nast, alas.