Custom Publishing Begets Marketing Services
More and more "marketing services" is becoming the flavor of the week in discussions about B2B publishing. American Business Media made it the theme of their 2011 conference in Austin. In some industries, the buzzword is Marketing as a Service (MaaS).
Lately I began asking publishers if this was a hot-button issue for them. I was met with a collective laugh. It was unanimous-everyone has been doing this for years.
Certainly my own recent publishing includes researching and writing white papers for clients. We produced webinars, from production to marketing. We have sent video crews and provided all production necessary to create training materials for clients' channel partners.
After all, there was a time most publishers assumed this to be the province of marketing firms and ad agencies. The Web rearranged everything like the beach after a wave. Marketers and agencies became publishers; paid and aggregated content proliferated; mailing became "free." Sheer survival was good incentive for publishers to take a fresh look at the landscape. Guess what? We have the most experienced skillset, and best lists, of all contenders.
"This is really an extension of the custom publishing realm," said Keith Larson, VP of content and group publisher of Putman Media. Their longest standing custom publication just reached its 12th year.
"Things got messier when they moved to digital platforms," he observed. "It went from selling a series of ads (i.e. six pages) to managing campaigns for clients. For expediency sake we began handling more creative functions just to get it done. We take part of the agency role, all the way to creating websites."
"Come in as a consultant. Make sure you take the time to ask them what has changed, how can you help them," is how Allied Media president Dennis Triola sees it. One advertiser asked about a digital program, but was shown a print supplement would serve them better. They now buy inserts every year. Not for the first time, a client recently bought a single-sponsor issue, adding a 10th edition to a 9x-per-year magazine.
"I want to go to advertisers and partner with them, get them whatever they need," Triola added. They aggressively sell custom publishing and even printing services, seeing opportunities each time an advertiser attends a trade show or introduces a new product.
To launch video sales online, Allied has added video creative services. They repurpose their reporting from newsletter articles to create scripts. The goal is to remove all production obstacles for the client.
At Putman Media, Keith Larson finds the planning stage with advertisers are key. "It allows us to have that conversation up front about expectations." That way, whatever package of marketing services is decided upon, "it is then easier to satisfy them and keep the client happy."
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.