What has been most impressive as a driving force behind The Guardian’s success is the organisation’s willingness to rethink its approach as a producer of news content, says Christopher Bones of Good Growth Ltd.

Speaking at the Stockholm Media Subscriptions Summit, Bones said The Guardian recognises it is servicing a community of readers: “The Guardian as a very distinctive position in the media in the U.K. and also very big global reach in terms of English-speaking media across the world.”

By adopting this sort of core customer-first principle, The Guardian identified how to improve and develop its membership offer — but also went even further. “At the core of the work we did for them, we built an inside platform that got them to understand that their readers were willing to pay something a month to support the maintenance of quality journalism,” Bones said. “They were happy to ... donate to a commercial organisation, in order to see that maintained. The Guardian readers weren’t just buying a newspaper; they were investing in the continued quality journalism of the company.”

This is a great example of how to put the customer ahead of the producer — and then how to build it back, Bones said. If you read a Guardian article today, at the bottom you’ll see the pitch for support.

“All of this came from that early understanding of why customers were not necessarily going to buy membership — but what they might be prepared to do.”