Do you know who your customers are?

It’s funny to see that for some companies it’s not really clear who their customers are: are readers the customers of newspapers, and are newspapers providing them a services by selling them news? Or are advertisers the customers and are newspapers in the business of selling attention to the advertisers?

Both can work, but it seems to me that currently too much discussion on the internet is about convincing companies that one approach is working and the other not. Companies should treat readers as customers, or they should views them as a product to sell. People are trying to convince others that they should target different customers.

I think it’s more important to understand your model: if you know who your customer is, you can actually understand the value of what you’re trying to sell. Are you selling valuable news or are you selling commodity news? Or are you selling specific readers, or are you selling a large group of unfocused readers? Are there many other providers of the same service or is your service very special?

The basic economic demand and supply rules still apply. The value of scarce news is very high, the value of commodity news is very low. The value of targetted, focussed readers is very high, the value of unfocused readers is a bit lower.

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