How to Grow a Custom Content Studio

In the News

Jonathan Carrera, LinkedIn

August 6

If you’re a publisher and you have not yet grown the custom content side of your business (or you have been, but find yourself facing growing pains), here are five pointers for achieving success.

1) Commit, fully.

Having a creative agency or a few freelancers on speed dial can only take you so far in growing a reputable and scalable custom content operation. There are pillars you need to build upon, which include establishing proper media management processes for your team (e.g. file organization and data security); standards for creative service procurement (so you can scale operations without loss of quality); and a strategic menu of content types and products that have been thoughtfully reviewed with your marketing, editorial, and creative teams (so you can ensure efficiency and profitability). With all of these things, having an executive producer or studio manager who is stellar at both creating content and managing operations is critical.

2) Aim high.

Be laser focused on creating premium custom content. That'll make it easier to scale, be profitable, attract great clients, retain great talent, and maintain good morale. Don’t chase the bottom. If you’re selling a series of explainer videos and the client points to a website that “does it cheaper,” then it’s likely that your value differentiator (editorial expertise, creative quality, audience, data, etc.) has not been clearly communicated.

3) Maximize use of resources.

A custom content studio can be extremely profitable, and its existence can strengthen your pre-existing creative operation with human resources and equipment that cost effectively service other engines of the company. This is especially true for smaller companies. For example, the video production resources that were paid for with branded content revenue can be used to create assets for editorial and events. This value add can be exponential if the creative operations for custom and editorial are tactically centralized.

4) Know what’s truly profitable.

Don’t sell a product you don’t understand, or haven’t fully calculated the true operational cost to create. If your content studio has no experience producing a 90 minute documentary, don’t sell one unless you’ve consulted a seasoned documentary producer. If a client asks for a product that you don’t normally produce, communicate with your internal SMEs to determine its viability.

5) Communicate openly.

It should not matter what “silo” the custom content studio falls under. Open, cross-functional communication is vital for operating at a world class level and maintaining a positive work environment that will increase efficiency and allow diverse stakeholders to feel that their ideas and contributions are respected and valued.

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