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Always diversify those new initiatives

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

In 2006, Greg Satell confronted a big problem. He helped run a Ukraine-based company whose main product, a popular magazine called Afisha, was in decline.

The six-year-old magazine had been a big moneymaker for Satell’s employer, KP Media Publishing. But as global publishing behemoths discovered Ukraine in the early 2000s, they lured readers—and ad dollars—away from Afisha.

Satell brainstormed with his colleagues on turnaround ideas. After revamping the magazine’s digital presence to generate more revenue from its website, they proposed two initiatives in search of new profits.

First, they established a program in which subscribers received a card entitling them to discounts from selected merchants and special deals to attend Afisha-branded events. The second idea involved selling licenses to publish Afisha in other Ukrainian cities, thus expanding their distribution network.

Within months, readers coveted the Afisha card to gain entry to events ranging from a private sale at a popular retailer to free admission to a dance club. Satell’s staff designed a monthly calendar to promote upcoming events.

Ironically, the idea that seemed a more likely hit—establishing a national network of licenses to grow the Afisha brand—did not take off.

“The problem, which we didn’t anticipate, was that the local markets were still not developed enough to support Afisha’s licenses,” Satell says.

When pursuing a turnaround plan, experiment with at least two initiatives so that if one doesn’t pan out, you can pull another rescue cord.

— Adapted from Mapping Innovation, Greg Satell, McGraw-Hill.

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