During the ASBPE National Editorial Conference in July, I hosted a workshop that offered attendees 19 ideas for combating the down economy. These ideas — all of which have been implemented at B2B publications across the country — resulted in some sort of payback, whether through revenue, readership, or recognition, or a combination of the three. Here are six of my favorites:
1. Revenue: Remodeling Capitalizes on Current Events
When the stimulus package was introduced in February, Remodeling magazine editors immediately realized that the implications — and opportunities — for their readers were huge. The staff scrapped their plans, already in progress, for the June 2009 issue and produced a comprehensive guide to the stimulus package that explained to readers what it was and how they could take advantage of it. And not only were readers in need, manufacturers were eager to advertise so that it was their energy-efficient building products that were chosen for stimulus-dollar spending.
Result: The issue generated a 25%-30% bump in revenue for that month. It also spawned additional and future unbudgeted revenue generators in the form of a sister Web site, a Webinar, a virtual conference, and a pavilion at the magazine’s trade show.
2. Revenue and Readership: Hotel World Network Capitalizes on Down Economy
In response to the recession, Hotel World Network, which includes Hotel & Motel Management and Hotel Design magazines, launched an online campaign “100 Days to Fight the Recession,” a daily e-newsletter that gave readers actionable tips and advice on how to survive the tough market. In addition to the email, the content is housed on the Web in free downloadable PDFs that can be easily saved, printed, and shared. The content also is supported by forums that discuss each day’s topics.
Result: The company brought in a large chunk of unbudgeted revenue and received a fantastic response from readers.
3. Recognition: Engineering News Record Puts Itself in Its Readers’ Shoes
To investigate the state of crane safety at a time when accidents have been occurring too often, Engineering News-Record’s Tudor Van Hampton put himself in his readers’ place: He trained for and took a national certification course in crane safety. Only by experiencing the process could Van Hampton truly know what it was like, share the experience with readers, and bring attention to the importance of safety and training.
Result: ENR earned multiple accolades, including a Neal Award and an ASBPE award.
4. Revenue: Michigan Municipal League’s Business Alliance Program
The editor of Michigan Municipal Review created the “Municipal League Business Alliance Program.” Members (suppliers to local government) joined in exchange for benefits that boost their marketing visibility in the state, including discounted advertising rates and exhibit space. Once created, the program requires little effort or expense to administer.
Result: $150,000 in immediate annual revenue; encouraged further advertising and exhibit space purchasing
5. Readership, Revenue: Digital Editions
If you have a limited print circ, digital editions can expand your reach exponentially by being emailed to a larger subscription base not part of the print run. They also can provide a value-add to market to your print advertisers. Digital editions can require little effort on the part of the edit staff (the print product is simply converted by an outside vendor) or they can be updated with audio, video, and other rich media to enhance the experience even further. Utilizing digital editions also is an alternative, as well as less expensive and less risky, option for special supplements outside the regular print schedule.
6. Revenue: Journal of Light Construction Books
The Journal of Light Construction, a trade journal offering hands-on, in-depth coverage of building processes and techniques, capitalized on its trusted content by repackaging 20 years of how-to construction articles into a comprehensive book, “The JLC Field Guide,” and interactive CD-ROM. The book is filled with how-to illustrations, instructions, diagrams, and charts. It was so popular, a second volume was published.
Result: The book cost $300,000 to produce, but generated $750,000 in its first year alone.
Katy Tomasulo is deputy editor for EcoHome magazine, Building Products magazine, and ebuild.com at Hanley Wood Business Media in Washington, D.C.