Leveraging Functionality to Tap New Advertisers
Business-to-business started out as adjective, as in b-to-b publishing. Then it acquired the (now quaint) geek acronym B2B. Along the way the concept of B2B has been stretched and twisted.
When I heard Penton Media was about to merge a consulting firm with an online information resource, it looked like they were taking business-to-business literally. It has the elements of a case study with multiple ideas other B2B publishers should think about.
Chicago-based GreenPoint Partners, the company in which Penton made an equity investment, analyzes energy use for building and facility managers. They make recommendations how clients can generate significant savings by retrofitting lighting systems with new technology. I love the idea this content is now being repurposed into a publishing product. It will become a functional tool called Green PSF (Green Per Square Foot), which Penton VP Warren Bimblick described as an online marketplace to help owners “figure out how to make their facility more efficient.”
The first takeaway is turning content into a lead-generation resource which goes beyond that of white papers and webinars. I’m a sucker for old fashioned usefulness to readers. The fact this effort takes advantage of established brands like National Real Estate Investor and American School and University is the ribbon on the package.
Having built a database of several million related readers gives Penton the chance “to aggregate volumes of people to use these tools,” Bimblick noted. In the future the platform will add HVAC, motors, solar and other potential areas for facility upgrades. I’m thinking there will be some calculators and analytical tools tailor-made for extension to mobile devices.
The oft-overlooked multiplier
The clincher on this is how it enables Penton to dig down into a vast reservoir of marketers who have never advertised with them. My personal rule of thumb in B2B publishing is “manufacturers advertise, service providers don’t.” I use service provider to encompass the local and regional channel partners, system integrators, distributors and, in this case, contractors who actually do the work.
One obvious reason for this advertising divide is hardly any of the service providers are national, while most industry publications sell national, if not international, advertising. Yes, now ads can be delivered with geo-targeting; but in practice it is not worth an ad salesman’s time to chase that sort of business. Yet most publishers forget the fact that, depending on industry, for every manufacturer there are 20-50 service providers.
Warren Bimblick says, “the whole angle is about (buildings and facilities) becoming more efficient and contractors generating greater revenue.” Enabling contractors to bid on business turns lead-gen into revenue-sharing for the publisher.
How can you tap into the far greater base of non-advertising service providers in your industry?
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.