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Today, traditional publishers face numerous challenges. While some will not rise to the challenge and meet them, others may one day look back and find that today's challenges pushed them to even greater heights.

A big reason for that is a proliferation of channels that publishers can use to reach consumers in meaningful ways. To take advantage of multi-channel opportunities, however, publishers need multi-channel strategies.

Here are five tips that can help publishers develop solid strategies.

Focus on creating efficiencies

Multi-channel publishing can be extremely time consuming and expensive for publishers ill-equipped to work efficiently in a multi-channel world. When it comes to content distribution, for instance, many publishers still have multiple channel-specific processes and technologies.

The solution: focus on finding ways to streamline distribution so that you're not reinventing the wheel for each and every channel.

Remember that doing everything is doing nothing

Publishers have a growing number of tools designed to enable them to provide their content to consumers whenever and wherever consumers request it. But that should not be seen as an invitation (or imperative) to be everywhere.

Being strategic is better than being prolific. By understanding and segmenting your audience, you can identify and invest in the channels that provide the greatest opportunity for the greatest return.

Select vendors and partners carefully

Consumer expectations and behaviors are often different from channel to channel. For publishers, this means that it can be difficult to build great consumer experiences across channels in-house. So it's not surprising that publishers increasingly rely on outside vendors and partners to get them to where they think they need to go.

When working with others, choosing the right vendors and partners is crucial. In many cases, it pays to deal with companies with deep domain experience and which focus on a single channel instead of relying on a one-stop-shop for everything.

Piggyback

It's nice to be ahead of the curve and to feel like a market 'leader', but sometimes it's appropriate to sit back, see what happens and let others discover strategies that you can piggyback on at minimal cost.

iPad publishing provides a good example of this. Many publishers were quick to jump on the iPad bandwagon, investing lots of time, money and publicity into their efforts. Yet the iPad hasn't been a panacea for publishers, and now some of them are scaling back their efforts. The lesson: being first doesn't mean you still won't finish last.

Be wary of hardcore technologists

Technology is changing the face of publishing, and increasingly the most important channels for many traditional publishers are digital. Yet most publishers would do well to avoid paying too much attention to hardcore technologists.

The truth of the matter is that although channels are changing, the fundamental process by which traditional publishers create content is still largely the same. The problem with listening to technologists is that many of the strategies they espouse require nothing less than the re-engineering of the content creation process.

Even for those who agree with the technologist approach, overlooking the fact that these technologists usually don't have any publishing experience, the reality is that most publishers are not going to reinvent all of their core processes overnight. Instead, they must find ways to make them fit within a multi-channel framework.

Patricio Robles

Published 2 May, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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