Building b-to-b brands
B-to-b titles are working to offer their audiences a variety of branded products and content
When InformationWeek, a b-to-b magazine for IT professionals, launched a redesign in January 2009, the print book was just the first step. To stay relevant to its tech-savvy readers, the brand also boosted efforts to drive readers to the InformationWeek Business Technology Network online and laid plans to launch new digital properties.
“You have to adapt to the changing information needs of the audience,” says InformationWeek publisher John Siefert. “It's very much associated with, and significant to, a larger strategy of aligning the content [with] how someone wants to receive it.”
In other words, InformationWeek — along with many of its b-to-b brethren, including DMNews – must adapt its audience outreach and engagement strategies to meet new audience demands. Additional factors pushing these trade publications to change include the explosion of new technologies, the economic situation and the globalization of the business world.
“The challenges for b-to-b publishing right now are the economy and budgets,” points out Robert DeMarzo, SVP and editorial director for the Everything Channel, which publishes CRN, VARBusiness and other print and Web properties. “Marketers and advertisers are under incredible pressure to deliver ROI to their bosses. It's a challenge you can only overcome if you have a diversified business model.”
This model includes print magazines — which are seen as valuable sources of in-depth reporting — and Web sites, social networking sites, data and analytics business arms and events. These multiple platforms not only make a media brand more appealing to the advertisers that are its bread and butter, they also help audiences find and interact with brands on their own terms.
In fact, in many ways, media companies are becoming technology companies, says Paul Miller, CEO of United Business Media's TechInsights. “They will use technology to get more targeted and get more control of the Web site, and then they will bring in all of that useful information to other network and community tools,” he explains.
Following this trend, InformationWeek offers the printed magazine, a news site, blogs, a research site called InformationWeek Reports, an analyst site called InformationWeek Analytics and many other properties, all creating a giant information Web that stands a much better chance of snaring the right reader than a single magazine. The brand has also created a wiki-style page called Global CIO Thinktank, which is a private community site that invites readers to communicate and engage with each other and the brand.
The Hollywood Reporter (THR), a trade magazine for the film industry, redesigned in 2007 and has followed a similar strategy. “We leverage the digital platforms as best we can,” says THR publisher Eric Mika. “We realized there's an audience who loves print, but there's also a fast-growing, hardcore audience that gets all its news online. We've launched digital platforms for some very specific needs, and those drive more people back to the publication online or in print and creates greater brand awareness.”
Among THR's digital platforms are several Web sites and a capability called THR Reviews, where readers can respond to THR's reviewers and write their own reviews.