Changing B2B business models are key to success

Raymond Wong, CEO, Contineo Media, Singapore, compared the company’s old business model to the current one, highlighting the changes as he went. Before, the magazine distribution was controlled and typically free, and users were precise and database driven. The revenue was mainly ad driven and other drivers included conference, awards and list rental. 

Now, the drivers for change are customers, said Wong. “They are getting smarter and want to measure ROI. We used to see customers giving us annual campaigns – now we live on an issue-to-issue basis. They are increasingly looking for measurable ROI.” Wong said there is also a move away from brand advertising towards product advertising and effective sales leads.

The new B2B model has allowed Contineo to reach more users in greater geographies and in real time, and has enabled them to improve lead generation and allowed them to introduce training, webinars, market research, events and software tools.

Wong gave the example of On Screen Asia – a 20 year-old brand about the TV business that began life as a print magazine. Recently, the brand has introduced workshops and run Asian TV awards. “It’s an exciting brand which reaches many different platforms,” said Wong. “The brand now even has a B2C dimension with the awards, because they are broadcast on TV channels in Asia. We’ve expanded our B2B footprint to create new divisions and sell sponsorships as a result of that.”

“Our business looks very different from 10 years ago,” concluded Wong. He said the company’s talent acquisition strategy has changed somewhat, in that they employ fewer journalists today and more video editors, database specialists and event managers.

Natasha Christie-Miller (pictured), CEO, Emap, UK, spoke of the company’s three “obsessions” – subscriptions, sales excellence and customer joy. “Some of our brands are 150 years old, but the purpose of our business hasn’t changed,” said Christie-Miller. “We create fantastically useful information and sell it to our professional audiences so that they can do their jobs better. But how we deliver that information has changed.”

Christie-Miller said Emap has undergone three years of transformation, and now has a range of channels online (including apps and mobile), in events, and of course in print. “We’ve transformed a declining advertising print reliant business info a growing subscriptions multi-channel business,” she said, adding that Emap is now in its third year of revenue growth, profit growth and is seeing growth in customer numbers.

Emap’s three obsessions

Subscriptions: “The way we measure our success is by counting the number of people buying our content. We sell subscriptions. All 500 staff are told every week how many subscribers there are. Subscriptions had been in decline for 25 years. In August 2012 we started growing again. We now have 5,000 more subscribers than we had then.”

Christie-Miller’s advice on making subscriptions work, is to make sure the content is as good across every channel, enabling the sales teams to sell across a range of platforms, depending on customer needs. She also spoke of a recently introduced corporate subscriptions strategy, where a company can buy a bulk subscription on behalf of employees, hence making an investment in business intelligence. Historically, individual subscriptions were the company’s biggest driver of revenue, but now, Christie-Miller says corporate subscriptions make a significant contribution. “Organisations renew our subscriptions at a much higher rate than individuals,” she said.

Sales excellence: “It’s essential to have a fantastic sales culture. We created a reward and recognition programme, because sales teams need to be motivated. We also enlisted strong sales leadership to drive the performance of our sales people.” Christie-Miller said the sales teams at Emap are now selling across many platforms, including events, content and marketing solutions. “Each sales person at Emap sells 30 per cent more revenue than they did three years ago,” she added.

Customer joy: “Our subscribers genuinely derive fantastic value from the content we provide. It helps them do better jobs.” Christie-Miller used the example of Emap’s Health Service Journal brand, which created a data product to profile NHS trusts in the UK. Underpinned by the brands expert analysis, this makes the product highly sought-after and profitable. 

Christie-Miller concluded by saying that Emap’s once reliant on ads business now places content at the centre of its model. “Top line revenue is growing, profits are growing and we’re launching new digital products,” she said. “Our strategy remains true to our purpose. Next year, we’re increasing our data intelligence service in the retail space and launching elearning in the nursing space.”

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