Tactics for Building Profitable Events
“No longer are they ancillary, they’re primary,” says Martha Schwartz, senior vice president, Custom Solutions Group, Ziff Davis Media. She’s talking about live events, and she can’t say enough about their brand- and profit-building abilities in the publishing world—and she isn’t the only one. Bob Cohen, publisher of LPI Media, refers to events as the future of profits in this business. As far as he’s concerned, publications can no longer thrive without sufficient face-to-face interaction.
American Business Media recently reported that trade shows overtook print magazines as the business-to-business media industry’s top revenue-producer in 2006—a first for face-to-face events. Trade shows accounted for 36 percent ($11.3 billion) of industry revenue, just above magazines’ 35 percent.
Over the years, Ziff Davis, LPI Media and a few others interviewed by Publishing Executive have pulled off enough events to claim a level of expertise on the subject. They have the process down to a science and, here, reveal their know-how for creating successful affairs.
Profits will come in time, but be prepared to struggle a bit at first—financially and logistically.
Cohen, whose group oversees consumer magazines such as The Advocate and Out, says stumbling blocks are aplenty in trying to get advertisers to underwrite brand-new events, and it could come down to the wire before getting them to commit.
“The first year is a nail-biting one,” says Cohen. “Publishers need to carefully scale new events, hold back and gauge interest so as to reduce risk until momentum is gained.”
As far as making a profit the first year, Cohen says don’t count on it.
Bill Howell, vice president and general manager, 1105 Government Information Group (which produces 40 events annually), says that because there is so much to learn initially, breaking even would be a reasonable expectation.