Marianne Caponnetto: Building on Tradition to Up Your Digital Game
Marianne Caponnetto is a case in point: Change agents can come from anywhere in the organization. At Scholastic, the leading children’s book publisher and education technology company, she’s enabling change from the boardroom after having earned her stripes driving the change imperative in sales and marketing leadership positions at DoubleClick, IBM, and Dow Jones & Co.
I'm very excited about the role that I've been able to play as a board member at Scholastic. Scholastic is a phenomenal company with a rich history of enabling children to learn to read so that they can be successful in life. I personally can't think of a better or more important mission.
The company has a strong, 90-year-old history, and yet we're facing challenges driven by market forces which compel us to continuously ask the question: how do we most effectively ensure that children have the best opportunities to learn how to read and to enjoy reading no matter the format or the channel. In Scholastic’s case, we all know that markets everywhere have been digitized, and book publishing is clearly among them. We also have been facing a combination of traditional and nontraditional entrants who are intent on building and expanding the children’s e-reading business. This gives us a huge leadership opportunity as a mission-driven company with earned equity in children’s literacy, and a name that is synonymous with children’s books. We’ve had a laser focus on the digital opportunity and are successfully publishing children’s e-books. Despite the competitive clamor, we plan to provide the best children’s e-reading experience in the world.
As an early pioneer in digital, Scholastic has had a web presence since the early 90’s which is continuously updated and refreshed to meet or exceed market expectations. Scholastic has transformed the Book Clubs into an e-commerce business, is the leader in the education technology business where innovative technology and expertise enable children and teachers to close key achievement gaps, and Scholastic is a leading e-book publisher committed to providing the best children’s e-reading experiences. Yet despite our digital leadership and innovation, when compared with companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon, the perception of Scholastic as a digitally inspired or technologically driven leader is not quite as strong. That's something that we are changing by showcasing our expertise in children’s literacy and learning, highlighting our digital and technology focus in education and in e-reading, and partnering with technology innovators. We're also facing increasing expectations because our customers are living digital lives. So parents, children, and teachers are all expecting us to deliver the highly curated and the best reading experiences for children in any format today.
To help us deliver and exceed customer expectations and combat some of these industry pressures, we're bringing in great talent across the spectrum. We've got a phenomenal and deeply committed board with a great balance of talent, skills and experience. Our management team is a powerful group of seasoned, experienced leaders who know the children’s market and are well prepared for the exciting opportunities ahead. We've hired outstanding talent across the company with a focus on content, marketing, digital and ecommerce skills and experience. And we're working with partners like Prophet and others to really help infuse a strategic and digital DNA throughout the company. We're upping our game in technology and we're focused on delivering innovative, significant, and captivating experiences in the e-reading space for children.
We're also reinvigorating our fundamental proposition as a bridge to a child's future by focusing on the success that happens when you connect the home and the school and build a close relationship among those groups. And while we're doing all of this, we're also providing market choice and balancing the needs of both our legacy and future businesses. We're transforming our businesses digitally while retaining some of the legacy requirements. Our traditional book club has evolved to a very significant e-commerce business. We're the leader in the children’s book business, the children’s digital book business and in the education technology business. We are also the leader in children’s book fairs. In fact, the book fair is our unique social medium where we engage face to face, and virtually, with communities, parents, children, and teachers. Yes, we have a lot that we're balancing.
In terms of key strategies, we want to make sure that we're taking a market-centric view. So despite our 90 years of experience in this marketplace, we're not taking anything for granted. We engage in very robust market intelligence regarding all of our customer constituents and competitors, as well as our employees, so that we understand where those segments are and where market trends are leading. We want to ensure collaboration across all of the business units so that we have a total view of our customers which will enable us to cross-promote, build loyalty, and leverage full knowledge of the marketplace.
We're also looking at interesting analogs of companies with strong branded experiences not necessarily in the book or e-reading space. We're learning from other industries. We think it's key to energize our employees about our future and enlist them in the role of brand ambassadors. While we are leveraging our unique and proprietary channels, we're simultaneously extending to new channels for better access to our buyers and influencers. The goal is to ensure that everything we have at Scholastic is presented to the marketplace in an integrated way and aligned with our mission.
Scholastic is a company of incredible passion and deep commitment to the mission of enabling children around the world to read, to learn, and to be successful in life. We maintain a very sharp focus on extremely high-quality and curated content for children and young adults at all reading levels. We have a very strong and unique partnership with key influencers, specifically teachers in the school systems as well as parents. I'm sure many of you have experienced at some point either the flyer or the current Web site in terms of how you and/or your children receive books at school that teachers are recommending. With a focus on our mission and the market, we are planning to make sure that your grandchildren and the generations that follow will discover joy and insight from great content in any format whenever and wherever they are.
Prophet is a strategic brand and marketing consultancy that helps clients win in the marketplace.
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