New Business (to Business) Models
The same technological changes that have upended publishing business models are providing new avenues for growth. Just ask B-to-B companies, poised to use big data, short-run printing, automated content creation, innovative product development and sophisticated list services to create new revenue. To hear some in the industry talk, there may never have been a better time for creating and implementing game-changing ideas than right now; yet, for the three publishers queried by Publishing Executive, it all comes down to variations on a very old theme: building relationships.
Connecting the Dots
Earl Heard became a publisher almost by accident. A trainer and human resources executive for the oil industry, Heard decided to break out on his own in the early 1980s, and noticed early on there was no publication reaching the audience he sought: human resources decision-makers across multiple industries in the oil and gas business.
"In the energy sector all the big publications have vertical magazines—one for drilling, one for pipelines, marine, terminals, etc.," Heard says. "We came out with one that was horizontal."
What started as a newsletter would grow into a profitable magazine and company, BIC Alliance, and Heard eventually abandoned the training business to become a full-time publisher. His business acumen and knowledge of the Gulf Coast oil industry led him to try some unorthodox ideas for creating revenue, such as selling the cover of the magazine to sponsors.
"People said it would not work," he says, "but I said if the content is strong enough on the inside people don't care, especially if it's a trade publication."
In addition to selling covers, BIC Alliance now has 350 clients using the magazine as a third-party newsletter, marketing partners who use the publication multiple times a year for campaigns. The upshot? "We are probably the most profitable small trade publication in America," Heard surmises.