Creating the dream: Chicago Construction News (and recreating the U.S. publishing model)

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Sometime this evening, about 600 individuals in Chicagoland (the greater Chicago area) will receive an email inviting them to apply for a performance-based (commission) sales opportunity, developing Chicago Construction News. This posting reflects the implementation of our U.S. expansion business plan, ratified at our annual planning meeting in early October.

The concept: We will build solid, useful websites, with informative content and appropriate social media tie-ins, and then invite relevant local businesses to participate through controlled advertising/editorial features that would couple with content and social media marketing to serve their interests.

To succeed, we need to do this work with an extremely tight budget. I’ve projected that we may need to post for three months to find one publisher who “sticks” enough to be offered a contract, and that (even with careful screening) only one of two local publishers we hire will succeed. So, it could take six months to get anything going — and even then, I’ve budgeted extremely low revenue potential, essentially expecting that the publisher will need other sources of income to survive (we may be able to pay a modest stipend, and will certainly be able to advance commissions forthrightly if the performance goals are achieved.)

Nevertheless, the business model has appeal. After all, if we can generate one even modestly successful publication in six months, that would be two a year, and over three years, we would have six titles. As well, to ensure the projections don’t get out of hand with optimism, I’ve deliberately set thresholds that are well below our business norms. Certainly, sales representatives in our established Canadian publications generate at least $18,000 to $25,000 or more a month in sales — and earn living wages for their work.)

I’ve managed the budget constraints to some extent by using our existing responsive design format for the websites, and contracting with inexpensive offshore services. This works, to some extent, but it is a challenge maintaining/ensuring quality — and so the search continues for relevant suppliers and contractors. As well, of course, we need to make sure our publications/products have genuine appeal to advertisers, and this won’t be a simple process.

Still, it is fun to be planning and executing a growth strategy. If you are interested in the Chicago opportunity, please visit the Chicago Construction News website or email me and I’ll provide you with more information.

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