The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur:
Syllabus Two: For Use as a Supplemental Text in an Undergraduate/Graduate Course

We hope that The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur will be used in its entirety in the college classroom. However, given the scope of this book, we also realize that there may not be enough time in a semester or quarter to cover all of the material we included. Therefore, we have envisioned each section as potentially a stand-alone entity that can be incorporated as a supplemental text into the curriculum of existing marketing, strategy, entrepreneurial or journalism courses.

Instructional methodology:Instructor-led Class Discussion/Lecture (See Lesson Plans for each Chapter), supplemented with Case Studies and Exercises incorporated into both classroom discussion and optional pre-class and post-class homework assignments. A sample study guide is provided.

Appropriate courses for adoption of this book as a secondary or supplemental text:  This book can be used in courses such as: 

  • Digital advertising and marketing, especially those focused on the launching and branding of media, tech and consumer products and services
  • Digital communication and journalism courses, in particular those focused on development of media products and services 
  • Management and leadership of media and technology organizations 
  • Entrepreneurial and/or innovation classes in university-sponsored media centers or laboratories, especially those attached to communication and journalism schools or departments

Chapter Recommendations for Specific Classes:

Here are the chapters we recommend for classes in which the book will be used as a supplemental text.   

Digital advertising, marketing, communication and journalism courses:  The second section of the book (Chapters Five through Ten), titled “Creating Sustainable Strategies and Business Models,” works well as a six- or seven-week module for a variety of digital marketing and communication courses.  It lays out an overall strategic framework for the development, testing and launch of media, tech or consumer products and services. 

Chapter Five (“A Strategy for Dealing with the New Business Imperatives”) provides an introductory framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a product or service (SWOT analysis), discusses the broad concepts behind development of sustainable business models, and lays out the five primary components of successful digital media strategies.  

Chapter Six (“Developing a Unique Value Proposition”) and Chapter Seven (“Understanding Customer Relationships”) pair well together. Instructors may want to spend a total of three weeks on the two chapters as students learn how to conduct research, use the value mapping tools to develop a unique value proposition, understand the concepts behind value-based pricing and loyalty, and determine the profitability of various types of customers.   

Chapter Eight (“Reaching New and Current Customers”) andChapter Nine  (“Competing in a Networked World”) also build complementary skills around understanding the various ways to communicate and connect with current and potential customers.   In Chapter Eight, students learn how to map the customer journey and identify the various channels for reaching customers.  In Chapter Nine, they consider the pros and cons of competing versus partnering with rivals. 

Chapter Ten (“Investing in Key Assets and Capabilities”) provides a framework for identifying key assets in a media or tech enterprise and then investing wisely in new digital products and services so that the primary needs and wants of target customers are prioritized.

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Suggested Assessment Tool:  Students spend this portion of the course researching a specific target customer’s wants and needs and designing a new product or service based on what they have discovered. 

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Media Management, Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Leadership Courses:  We recommend a combination of these seven chapters: Chapters One through Four in Part One (“Understanding the Basics of Digital Media Entrepreneurship,” Chapter Five in Part Two (“Creating Sustainable Strategies and Business Models”), and Chapters Eleven and Twelve in Part Three (“Leading in a Time of Change”).   This combination will give students a solid introduction to the strategic challenges and opportunities confronting both start-up and existing media organizations. 

Chapter One (“Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: Innovation and Entrepreneurship”) explores how innovations (from the printing press to the internet) have changed the dominant business models for media organizations.  It also begins to identify the characteristics of successful media entrepreneurs.

Chapter Two(“The Story Behind the Numbers”) identifies the massive amount of information – strategic, as well as financial – that can be gleaned from a publicly traded media enterprise’s annual income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet.

Chapter Three (“What’s a Company Worth?”) examines the various types of media investors (from hedge fund managers to venture capitalists) and provides students with basic ways to place a value on a company and calculate a return on investment.

Chapter Four (“The Changed Competitive Landscape”) lays out the typical life cycle of a media enterprise (from foundation to maturity and decline), and explores the challenges that confront management of those enterprises at each stage of development. 

Chapter Five (“A Strategy for Dealing with the New Business Imperatives”) provides an introductory framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a media or tech enterprise (SWOT analysis), discusses the broad concepts behind development of sustainable business models, and lays out the five primary components of successful digital media strategies.

Chapter Eleven (“Entrepreneurial Leadership and Culture”) explores the importance of organizational culture and the leadership characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial enterprises.

Chapter Twelve (“What the Future Holds”) summarizes what we have learned so far and reviews the challenges confronting media and tech enterprises at this, the very beginning, of the digital age.  It provides basic advice to those entrepreneurs who seeks to start their own companies. Chapter Twelve concludes with speculation about future innovations and how those might change the media landscape, as well as the business models for media and tech enterprises.

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Suggested Assessment Tool: Students show their proficiency of these chapters by providing a written strategic assessment of a start-up or legacy media or tech enterprise, discussing both its strengths and weaknesses, as well as its long-term viability and profitability.  Alternatively, students could produce a sell-side analyst’s report on a publicly traded company, recommending either buying or selling the stock.

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Courses or Internships in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centers: For courses or internships in which the goal is the development and testing of a new product or service, we recommend Chapters Five through Ten.  (See the above summaries of the six chapters in Part Two, titled “Creating Sustainable Strategies and Business Models,” recommended for “digital advertising, marketing, communication and journalism courses.”)  For courses or internships in which the primary goal is development a business plan for a new or existing product or service, we recommend Chapters One through Five and Chapters Eleven and Twelve.  (See the above summaries of the seven chapters recommended for “media management, entrepreneurship, strategy and leadership courses.”)

Alternatively, centers and laboratories may wish to focus on a specific area, such as finances or strategy, for a shorter period of four or five weeks.   In such cases, we recommend these chapters:

Courses focusing on the finances of media and tech enterprises: We recommend Chapters One (“Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: Innovation and Entrepreneurship”), Two (“The Story Behind the Numbers”), Three (“What’s a Company Worth?”) and Twelve (“What the Future Holds”).

Courses focusing on business strategy:  We recommend Chapters Four (“The Changed Competitive Landscape”), Five (“A Strategy for Dealing with the New Business Imperatives”) and Ten (“Investing in Key Assets and Capabilities.”)

Courses focusing on product design and development: We recommend Chapters Six (“Developing a Unique Value Proposition), Seven (“Understanding Customer Relationships”) and Eight (“Reaching New and Current Customers.”)Courses focusing on entrepreneurial leadership of both start-up and legacy organizations: We recommend Chapters One (“Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: Innovation and Entrepreneurship”), Four (The Changed Competitive Landscape), Eleven (“Entrepreneurial Leadership and Culture”) and Twelve (“What the Future Holds.”)