Over the next several weeks iPublish Media Solutions will share our 10 tips for selecting the best technology partners for your business. This is the fourth in a series, based on lessons learned during more than a decade of media partnerships.

Question #4: How long will it take to see results?

In the volatile local media industry even the best initiatives are subject to an extra qualification: How long does it take to produce revenues, savings, leads or other important KPI’s?

Determine Time Sensitivity

Time sensitivity is often the elephant in the room; everyone knows it is there, even if it is never overtly discussed by management. Everyone has seen the top brass pull the plug on an initiative that doesn’t pay off right away.

So before embarking selecting technology partners, ask how long the initiative it will take to break even, to hit a target, or to achieve agreed upon KPI’s. More importantly, ask your own company executives what their time tolerance is for hitting these performance goals.

A high time-sensitivity means that a company needs more immediate results. But even “right away” means different things to different people. Define what it means to your company.

Medium time sensitivity in today’s media world means you need to show results – the ROI or KPI targets met – within a year.

Some lucky organizations have a low time sensitivity for core objectives and are willing to invest in longer-term plays that pay-off in more than a year, as certain milestones are met.

An example is moving smaller orders to automated online ordering. This initiative has a huge total opportunity – all the small businesses in the DMA – but just not necessarily today. As long as the ROI is at least 2x or more in the first year, many local media companies are starting to embrace using automated end-to-end platforms for smaller dollar amounts, knowing that they are gaining new customers and training those customers to self-serve.

Individuals are already accustomed to making decisions about whether to delay gratification for a better pay off. For example, pursuing an advanced degree that will result in a higher salary, or going to work and starting to earn less, but right away. Values have changed as contexts differ.

Don’t Get Caught By Surprise

Talk through the trade-offs internally: Some local media companies use a few high revenue events to stabilize revenues now, while investing longer-term diversification, such as starting a digital agency. Other media companies are under-resourced and under-the-gun to show results right now. For these companies, part of their mission is speed. And even if revenues are relatively stable today, things can easily change.

Just remember there always is a time threshold, even if it is merely implied, and no-one wants to get caught by surprise.

A great discussion to have is not just what performance targets (savings or revenues) need to be met, and when do you expect each milestone but also what happens if they are not met?

Ask yourself, how much patience does your company really have for this solution? A month? A quarter? A year?

Ask the technology partner how long it took for their last customer to show results, and get a reference if you can.

iPublish Media Solutions has worked with companies whose time tolerance varies greatly. However, the majority of our clients expect an initiative to deploy in weeks or months, and pay-off within the same quarter or year. Our pricing models reflect the time sensitivities of these clients.

We customize platforms to support client goals in a variety of verticals and we are more than willing to discuss “the time it takes” with partners in advance, so there are no surprises and everyone stays on the same page.

Learn more from the other blogs in this series:

> Part 1: What are you company’s core objectives?
> Part 2: How do you evaluate the ROI of a platform?
> Part 3: What is the size of the total opportunity?