Digital and conference revenues key to B2B's future
Over the past four years, many B2B magazines have tried to go "Web-only" with only a few making the transition successfully. ABM's Managing Profits research offers a blueprint for a more successful reinvention of a B2B brand.
ABM's survey covered three main revenue streams (Print, Web and Events). I would have broken out data and business information services separately, but this information in and of itself is extremely helpful on its own merits. After reviewing the inital findings with Michael Alterio, Research and Content Director for ABM, I was able to put together a comparison of the different revenue streams surveyed. With his help, I made some adjustments on the raw data to remove outliers and identify some key performance indicators (KPI's):
per User (ARPU)
*Conferences and trade shows were rolled up into one "events" line item. So, the growth rate for both conferences and trade shows are listed at 9.8% (the number provided for "events"), but CEIR forecasts just 2.2% growth for trade shows. This implies that conferences are growing far more quickly than trade shows, perhaps even rivaling digital's growth rate.
This backs up what we know anectodotally from the business blogs out there. A digital and conference business pairing is complementary. One need only look at the valuation of some of the large blogs out there to see how the marketplace values this combination of revenue streams.
($200 million if you believe rumors
that CNN will buy them)
|Business Insider||$45 million|
We may scoff at these valuations as being highly inflated, but if you have ever tried to buy a digital company, you know that the valuations get a bit crazy.
The fast pace of content creation for blogs helps a B2B brand identify the hot, engaging topics that will lead to strong conference attendance. By using analytics packages (both Web and email), it is possible to identify the individuals interested in those topics and the geographic concentration of those people. So, picking a location with affordable air travel becomes easier because you know where people are traveling from. Heather Martin, VP of Events for Fierce Markets, wrote about their segmentation tactics in this blog post, saying, "From day one, we took our expertise in email newsletters and online publishing – open rates, click-through rates, etc. – and applied it to event marketing."
Conferences take less time to plan, allow for more timely content, are less risky than trade shows, and connect a community in a way that sponsors and attendees both love. The brand resonance from the event becomes a halo for the Website, making it more likely that marketers will advertise and readers will buy research, reports, briefs, lists, etc.
The conference model is just as dependent upon email marketing as Webinars or white papers, but list fatigue is far less of an issue. You are promoting your own event instead of advertorial Webinars. You are promoting them to an audience that you know is interested, and you are reinforcing the value of your brand rather than diminishing it (by promoting substandard advertorial content).
Finally, one word of advice, recognize that a conference can be an incredibly unique and brand-building experience. Look for a venue that will give you the type of environment you want to create and be known for. The Hilton in New York is convenient and might be the right choice, but there are so many other places that might be a better and more interesting fit. If you're interested in pursuing a digital/conference business, check out these resources: