Cover Story: The Search for Profitable Publishing
Lefens says his company often shies away from custom publishing projects that don't strengthen the company's own brands, but this project aligned well and "was worth it."
Others are trying to build on their strengths. Robinson is working to expand her annual conferences. "They're a perfect fit for my target audience of women. Women like that face-to-face interaction," she says.
"We're looking into doing more things to generate revenue," she says. Diversity Woman also produces sponsored webinars and e-newsletters.
Making Major Strategy Shifts
To help boost revenue, some companies also are evaluating current business practices to determine whether internal adjustments that better align with today's publishing environment are in order.
For Marketing and Technology Group's Meatingplace and CarneTec brands, 60 percent of the revenue comes from print, and 40 percent from online, says Lefens. "The Plate brand, with a relatively new Web site, has a higher print-to-Web revenue ratio." Overall, he says, "Revenue did not grow in 2009. It was flat, with all our brands gaining market share."
With "flat" being "the new up," Lefens believes his company fared relatively well during one of the worst recessions of our time—a fact which he attributes to "some relatively radical changes we made to our publishing model in 2006."
The company had experimented with its Meatingplace brand first, says Lefens, "because it had a very strong franchise based on daily news delivery. We moved all the 'tactical' content (news, technical articles and new product information) from Meatingplace magazine to Meatingplace.com. … This … allowed readers to get in and out of short articles quickly and to connect with advertisers immediately. It also allowed us to capture these metrics for our advertisers."
Meatingplace.com was focused on serving ads contextually on a pay-for-play basis. (Users register to access the company's Web sites.) "Certain ads generate hard leads and deliver full contact information in real-time. Metrics delivered to advertisers include the name, title and company of all buying influences who have seen each ad, clicked thru to their Web site, [and requested] more product information," Lefens explains.