Blog | 20 March 2020

Practice makes perfect

If you want to be good at skateboarding, you know what you have to do? That’s right, practise skateboarding – a lot. Practice makes perfect, as our parents used to say to us when we’d tired of trying to master whatever wholly unsuitable musical instrument had been thrust upon us age five.

The violin? Really? I’ve barely mastered Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star on a plastic recorder.

A study of violinists published in Royal Society Open Science found quality of tuition, learning skills and natural talent were pretty important, too. If only my five-year-old self could have communicated that.

But clearly a modicum of focus is important if we want to be more than merely competent at anything.

The same rule applies when it comes to business, marketing and brands. Focus requires paying attention to what will deliver your objectives and avoiding distractions that will hinder them. Focus helps with reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making – all of which need to be at an optimum level when you are running a successful enterprise.

In our latest podcast, we hear from James Hewes, CEO of FIPP, and Barry McIlheney, CEO of the PPA, both considering the challenges around maintaining the relevance of their respective industry bodies.

The publishing industry has faced game-changing competition over the last decade from tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook. Not just in terms of readership but also in the ad-funded model which is increasingly data driven and accounts less and less for context and environment.

Back in the day, publishers were at each other’s throats in the scramble for revenue and readers, but they are now finding themselves needing to unite more in the face of a greater threat. The role that FIPP and the PPA play in this respect is much needed, and the reshaping and refocusing of these industry bodies is hugely timely.

Trade associations are membership organisations like any other, in that they are funded by their members who have a common interest or purpose. The additional challenge an industry body faces is that the product or environment it represents is likely to be much more dynamic than The Caravan Club.

With an industry such as publishing, that has undergone seismic shifts in a relatively short space of time, the challenge for the trade body is to avoid mission creep. Being drawn into too many areas and losing sight of what made you relevant in the first place is a lesson from which all membership organisations could learn.

Alex Marks
Alex Marks

Alex supports the strategic development of River's business and acts as an experienced marketing partner for our client teams. He is a regular commentator, writer and conference speaker on a wide variety of digital,  marketing,  and content strategy issues.

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