New Business (to Business) Models
With BIC Magazine as the foundation, Heard has built an interesting business model. After one advertiser came to him asking for help finding a salesperson, he decided to launch a recruitment arm; BIC now employs four full-time recruiters leveraging the company's extensive contacts in the energy sector to match prospects with employers. In the 1990s, BIC got into a whole new level of "recruitment": helping clients looking to buy or sell companies. Investment banking is now one of three key elements (publishing and recruiting are the others) of what Heard considers a kind of synergistic golden triangle.
"[One] leg is magazines and books to help publicize and build relationships. [The second is] recruiting marketing and salespeople, who can buy ads, and C-level people, because they can buy companies. The third leg is investment banking," Heard says.
In recent years, BIC Alliance has moved into books. Examples include a collection of company profiles, "Energy Entrepreneurs," for which it sold custom covers; "Louisiana Sports Legends and Heroes," profiling athletic and philanthropic achievement, which sold ad space in the back ("People said if you offer sponsorships in the back of the book you will never get it into bookstores. That is a myth," Heard says); and books collecting material appearing over the years in BIC Magazine. "I don't make a lot of money publishing books," Heard says, "but it leads to other business."
New Ways To Serve
While not every B-to-B publisher could travel this route, BIC Alliance demonstrates the power of outside-the-box thinking for publishers able to leverage an intimate knowledge of the industries and people they serve. Audiences, in turn, look to publishers help them make new connections, create new business and expand their insight. "In B-to-B, the purpose of publishing should be to give decision-makers what they need, not just feed them content that they believe they could generate themselves in a few seconds on Google," Tim Baskerville, director at HG Data Company, told SIPAlert Daily last year.