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Start with Audience: The New Network Computing

How do you take a 20-year old brand and make it relevant in today’s digital media and publishing world?  We asked ourselves that exact question when we started to evaluate building an enhanced online destination around TechWeb’s Network Computing brand. 

The good news is that we found the answers. 

We started with the best approach on earth – we started with audience. We asked our reader customers what they wanted and we delivered it. Yet, if only it were that simple. The fact is that re-launching a web site, integrating it with another, and delivering a valuable end-result takes hard work and investment. If you’re embarking on a similar type of project for your organization, I thought I’d share a few lessons-learned from our process…

Stay Ahead of the Market Curve:  We started by asking our audience questions. How are you evaluating technology? What is your purchase process? What type of information sources do you consume? How has your view of the world changed? One thing was apparent: IT decision-makers are now taking a holistic view of IT technology and operations, versus a silo approach of the network, data center and storage solutions. There are new options for building and managing a next-generation storage and data center infrastructure — driven through, consolidated infrastructure, virtualization, automation, service-level oriented view of the data center, cloud computing, blade adoption, etc.  With a site already focused squarely on storage technology, ByteandSwitch.com, we made the only logical move – combine the best-of-breed audience and editorial resources with Network Computing and build the ultimate destination for these technology decision-markers. Thus, the new Network Computing. There isn’t another online destination in the market that can boast our market position. We are clearly on top of the curve.

Deliver Trusted Content: If you have a formula that works, stick with it. Network Computing is known for deeper content and a “For IT, Buy IT” methodology. It wasn’t tough to make the decision to continue this approach. Ask an IT decision-maker where they go for expert advice and they answer, more times than not, their peers. This has been the brand premise of Network Computing for 20 years. So while we didn’t change the type of content the audience expects, we did change how this content gets delivered. That’s how you make a traditional brand truth relevant in today’s world. At the end of the day, audiences care about trusted content. They just want more ways to digest it.

Offer the Audience Choices: Today’s audience wants choices. People consume media more ways in 2009 than in the history of the world. You can call this “multiple media outlets” or something funky if you want. But it’s all about taking content and delivering it in context of the media vehicle.

  • Want your content off of a web site or via a newsletter? Okay. Done. And done cleanly.
  • Want an interactive PDF digital version? We have that too. Feel free to download it to your hard drive.
  • RSS? iGoogle away or use your favorite feeder.
  • Mobile viewing? Launch that Blackberry or iPhone browser for a customized mobile version of the site.
  • Virtual Events? No need to travel to connect with your peers.
  • Twitter? Read our tweets, retweet, tweet us, as you wish.

Choices, choices, choices.

In the end, we combined tried-and-true methodologies with modern content delivery vehicles. We started with audience and we delivered. But we’re not done listening. Please share any and all feedback. We intend to keep our eyes and ears open. Do you?