November 15, 2018 by Ronn
"I looked at the company and realized that strategy at the end of the day is simply resource allocation. That's my job. So I need to resource the appropriate level towards technology differently than we have been."
—Thomas president and CEO Tony Uphoff
Another successful Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) concluded yesterday with an incredible keynote from Uphoff—Thomas has completely transitioned from being a legacy print/directory company to a data platform company—and more insightful and solution-oriented sessions.
I'll be writing about more BIMS sessions in the coming weeks but meanwhile here are some highlights from the conference to give you a taste.
Make your content valuable and affordable. "If [one of your customers] doesn't want to buy your content because he says it's too expensive for him, then maybe you need to do some soul searching in your content," Grey Montgomery, president and CEO, Farm Journal's Pro Farmer, told interviewer Trevor Kaufman, CEO of Piano. "My audience in a lot of ways can't afford it but they do because we also pitch back, for example, "If you follow all of our hedging strategies with your size crop, this is how much you would have made. Therefore by investing the $500 you'll make $5,000." Montgomery also reiterated what we've heard before, that farmers, like everyone else, have joined the digital revolution. "If you don't have a mobile play in the 50-and-under audience, you're in trouble. It's a very mobile audience. We have to change our content, our form factor and our marketing strategy in order to be relevant for the next generation."
If you're providing services for customers, charge accordingly. "We had a new client and one of the first things we did was a content audit," said Stephanie Holland, director, global advertising sales & C&EN marketing, American Chemical Society. "We're charging for brand lift surveys to analyze the success of a campaign so we really are charging for just about everything." And on native content... "We have some science writers who don't want to be attached to native content. Sometimes it's the choice of the client, sometimes the writer. We've done some ghostwritten content for clients before. We've also done some content for the back end of their websites..."
Sell and fortify subscriptions by selling every single article. "Here's the thing that I would ask you," said Jim SInkinson of FiredUp! Marketing. "If you had to open your publication and choose one of your information units, whatever's current. Pull that out and say, 'Write me some copy on why someone should read that.' How would that go? Would you know how to sell that?" He gave an example from the dentistry industry: "Is your practice being embezzled? No doctor think it's possible, but read this." It's a hard sell but it can work to get subscribers to read it and use it, Sinkinson said. In the first seven months of sending weekly teaser emails, the page views for the finance for dentists publications increased by 73%.
It's all about data, even for you.
"Value creation in the future for all of your companies, my company and all the companies our industry represents will be built based on the quality, the relevancy and the functionality of the data that all of our businesses produce," said Uphoff, adding that hearing a statement like that, you might not think it relates to you. But it does. He took the audience through the journey they went through at Thomas in going from a legacy print/directory publisher to a modern data platform company. (We will be reporting more on this enlightening talk in the future or you can view it here
Avoid cliché-ing generations. We are complicated creatures, said opening keynote speaker James Pogue. Generational connections need to be a part that deepens the relationship, allows us to see the different pieces of one another—"to encourage and peel back who we are [and create] the best ways to reach our members and our audience."
Educate your writers about keywords and search. All of our writers are "open to learning" about analytics and keywords, said Andrew Rosen, AAA Northeast's VP of brand and content marketing. "If they're not interested in that, they're not right for you." He added that analytics can fuel healthy gamification between writers, seeing who can get better numbers. They have also enjoyed success empowering their writers and editors—and allowing them to write what they want. One woman enjoyed podcasts and started a successful column on that; another, who was managing editor of the calendar, had a culinary school background and started writing about food.
Inclusion at home can mean reaching more diverse markets. "There's a business, legal and moral imperative for inclusion," said Meg Hargreaves of FiscalNote during the Day 2 Women in Media Leadership panel. "Having diversity at our company helps us better understand our customers, who are increasingly diverse and global. [It leads to] access to adjacent markets that we haven't yet penetrated. And it's time; 100-plus women were just elected to Congress. At FiscalNote, we believe we have a moral obligation to create environments that are warm and welcoming of people of diverse backgrounds."
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…