I’m blessed to be able to sit in strategic meetings with great people who work for several different Christian Publishing Houses. In years’ past I heard comments such as “our competitor is getting heavy into fiction. We need to buy more fiction work and be competitive.” But in time, the publishing house that had been know for its excellence in children’s materials, for example, began publishing too many titles outside its core competency. It couldn’t deliver on its new products and it weakened, as well, the very product line that had made it successful.
In marketing circles, we cal this line extension. For example, just because Startbucks is great at making coffee, it does not mean it should become a media company, as it is trying to do by creating its own music label. To me that’s dangerous and has a way to dilute the Starbucks brand. What’s next? Shoes?
But I see something encouraging happening in Christian publishing these days. Several times now, I’ve heard publishers say “we need to get back to what we do best and not try to play someone else’s game.” That’s music to my ears. Mature organizations coming full circle to create great product they are uniquely positioned to create and letting someone else do the rest. There’s a lot of talk now of co-branding products by two or more publishing houses. Film studios have done that successfully for years. I’m glad to see Christian publishers do it.
I often tell my clients to tell or re-tell their story to the consumer; not their competitor’s story, but their own unique story that will resonate with them. I’m encouraged by the stories I’m beginning to hear.