Follow the Money and Embrace the Problem, Speakers Tell Us - 10 Takeaways From BIMS 2019

Share |

What I like about the targeting that the Financial Times did to attract more women readers is that, for the most part, they didn't say anything about it. They just did it.

As part of that project, they started promoting one key story every day geared to women, Matt Fottrell, VP, Financial Times U.S. and managing director, FT Specialist, told us in a Day 2 keynote titled Keeping Up With the Times, at our just-concluded and buzz-worthy Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Hollywood, Fla.

After finding that their pages were showing a lot less female faces than men, the FT started a weekly newsletter targeting female subscribers—curated each week by a different female journalist. Over a two-year period, the number of female subscribers increased by 20% and engagement by 10%. They also found that readership among men went up as well. "Methodology starts with good solid business planning," Fottrell said.

Here are 9 other key takeaways from the 6th and best edition of BIMS:

1. Follow the money. Asked why he might go into popular verticals rather than more obscure ones, Industry Dive CEO Sean Griffey said, "Crowded spaces means there's money there. I'd rather go where there's money today rather than create a market tomorrow. If it's between being first in something or being a fast follower, I'm not in the first one... At the end of the day, we like verticals that are impacted by technology or regulation so there's a need to follow the news. I also really like industries that have a strong SaaS component."

2. Scroll don't swipe. "When reading, people much prefer scrolling to swiping," said Columbia professor and author Mario Garcia, "so type should flow down. He added that our writing needs to change. Paragraphs should be shorter because we get interrupted so much more today. "We are in the journalism of everywhere and interruptions. This is a phone; it rings, it messages, it Instagrams. We need more subheads to help navigate the story [through those interruptions]."

3. "Fall in love with the problem, not the product," counseled Questex group president John Siefert in a presentation about the Questex Beauty Experience, which abandons traditional websites for a social-driven "feed and follow" approach. Media and information is notorious for its pursuit of silver bullets and focusing too much on the product, not the core customer needs, is a mistake.

4. Aim for the multi-year agreement. As B2B publishers develop subscription data and research businesses, they need to be focused on how to both replicate and scale, much as they are trying to do with multi-faceted marketing services campaigns. In a keynote on "How a Data Business Can Lift All Boats," Technomic president Alanna Young showed a progressive ladder of data and research products starting with a one-time custom research product on the bottom and multi-year, high-dollar platform subscriptions at the top (which can cost into the six figures depending on complications of services). Ironically, she said that "the easiest thing we do is sell multi-year subscriptions. The hardest thing we do is one-off custom projects."

5. Make sure the key players are in the room. In her Day 1 keynote, Anita Zielina, director of news innovation and leadership at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and a former chief product officer of NZZ in Zurich, told us—scolded us?—that if your designers aren't in the room when the products are being developed, that's bad. And you have to rely on people on your teams to be smarter than you are. "And that's a tough thing," she said. "Coach your employees to become more independent." 

6. "Remind subscribers and members why they signed on and reinforce that decision," said Jim Sinkinson of Fired Up Marketing. "New customers—especially trials—forget why they subscribed. Don't let them forget. Tantalize them with the valuable information they will be receiving. Onboarding materials should address three things: Motivation, method and making them heroes—give them quick wins.

7. Find your champion. "You really have to find a champion or super-user [within your customers' offices] to help distribute your content," said Bill Haight, president of Magna Publications "Remind them all the time [of the content you're making available them]. Hold a lunch meeting if you need to. Buy pizza.

8. Everyone old can be new again. In a presentation on how TechTarget has built one of the most successful audience/advertiser solutions in all of B2B media, SVP of product Andrew Briney demonstrated the true cost of cold prospecting leads—prospects who were active in the past 90 days were 7x more likely to respond to your email, 5x more likely to generate an MQL and 19x more likely to accept a meeting, compared to cold prospects (not active in your market) who typically require 4x more dials to generate a lead; 50% likely to no-show a meeting and 2x the cost to create an opportunity.

9. Try "selling without selling." Brian Cuthbert, group vice president, Diversified Communications, said that he has an audience that doesn't like to talk to sales. So an editor will contact them and say, "I'm the editor and my job is for you to get value from the site. Is there content that's not there that you need?" "[Our audience] just eats that up," Cuthbert said. The member might say, "Well, I need to get my team certified." He calls it selling without selling. "It's non-intrusive but takes the right type of editorial folks who get that."

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
If not, you're missing out on daily strategies, tips, profiles and case studies that can build your audience and increase revenue. To sign up, please contact Nevena Jovanovic.

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…