Watt digital initiative doesn't stop with redesign

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This month, Watt Publishing Co. will relaunch, completing the redesign of the company's six major Web sites—and the launch of, a new brand—over a period of 16 months. “We've brought all our Web sites up to an acceptable standard,” said Tim Smith, VP-COO, “but we're not even one-quarter of the way to where we need to be.” The sites will be upgraded continuously from this point forward until they advance from adequate to cutting-edge, Smith said. “We have the functionality, but now we have to work on the focus. Our Web sites must be the cornerstones of our brands,” he said. “We entirely respect our print and one-to-one products. But you have to have a vision for where you're going, and that future is digital.” Watt's strategy for making this shift includes two new executives. In early 2007, the company hired Jeff Miller as director of e-strategy sales and marketing as well as Zorana Bojanovic as managing director of online development and technology. Watt Publishing covers the poultry and hog markets, livestock feed, pet food manufacturing, woodworking and, with the January launch of, sustainable solutions for animal agribusiness. This diversity adds a layer of complexity to the challenge of training salespeople with print backgrounds to sell Web products. “It has been a distinct challenge,” Miller said, “especially in light of our aggressive growth strategy.” Watt's online revenue increased 50% in 2007 over 2006. “Our mandate for 2008 is 100%,” Miller said. Bojanovic, meanwhile, has taken Web site development to a whole new level. “We are no longer doing big projects with huge specifications,” she said. “We are doing product development on an ongoing basis.” Bojanovic uses a development firm based in India to give Watt the ability to create new products, such as video and social networking solutions, quickly and relatively inexpensively.
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