Monthly Archives: April 2009

Specialist publishers: 3 great conferences coming up in May, June and July.

2477140811_ab022c2a345Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 18 months it cannot have escaped your attention that big changes are afoot in the media world. Changes that have been accelerated by the current recession but most of which would have been taking place anyway. Some traditional revenue lines are under significant pressure, business models require reinvention and technological developments are changing the way our customers both consume information and market their products and services.

Against this backdrop should we all put on a tin hat and hide under the nearest desk?

Instead of adopting the Private Frazer approach I strongly suggest that you get out there, meet your peers and learn from others in the industry. On this basis I would like to recommend 3 upcoming events – all of which I have had some involvement in.

The E-Publishing Innovation Forum. Marriott Regents Park, London. 19-20 May.

This 2 day event is organised by my old division of Incisive Media in conjunction with Outsell. Last year it was one of my favourite events of the year and I wrote about some of the presentations I found particularly enlightening. For 2009 Laura and Lorna have again put together a great programme. Featuring speakers including:

  • David Craig, Chief Strategy Officer, Thomson Reuters
  • Juian Sambles, Head of Audience Development, Telegraph Media Group
  • Robert Brown, Media Business Director, Exalead
  • Ben Edwards, Exec VP, The Economist Group and Publisher of Economist.com
  • Ashley Friedlein, CEO, EConsultancy
  • Tim Weller, Group CEO, Incisive Media
  • Neil Thackray, Thackray Media
  • Nick Barnett, MD, Phorm
  • Jonathan MacDonald, Senior Consultant, Mobile Marketing, OgilvyOne
  • Graeme McCracken, COO, Reed Business Search
  • Dame Wendy Hall, University of Southampton

… and many more influential speakers. Click on the title link above to see the full programme.

33rd Specialized Information Publishers Conference. Mayflower Hotel, Washington D.C. 31st May – June 2nd.

Entitled ‘Deal with the Now. Navigate the Future’ the SIPA Washington Conference looks set to be a cracker. While I have never been to a Washington conference I am the current chair of SIPA UK and sit on the main board of directors. This year I was asked to programme the online marketing track and am very much looking forward to attending. There’s a great line up over the 3 days including keynotes from:

  • Jay Berkowitz, CEO of Ten Golden Rules of Internet Marketing
  • Andrew Madden, Director of Strategic Partner Development, Google
  • Jeff Pence, Farm Journal Media’s President of its television and newsletter businesses
  • Mark Ragan, CEO, Ragan Communications

alongside track presentations from:

  • Amy Africa, Eight by Eight
  • Matt Bailey, SiteLogic Marketing
  • Bill Barnes, Enquiro Search Solutions
  • Bob Bly, Bly Copywriting
  • Sean Brooks, TechTarget
  • Kathlene Collins, Inside Higher Ed
  • Nan Dawkins, Serengeti Communications
  • Bill Dugan, The Pohly Company
  • Sarah Rotman Epps, Forrester Research
  • William Fridrich, Wm Fridrich Design
  • Herndon Hasty, Range Online Media
  • Craig Huey, Creative Direct Marketing Group
  • Greg Jarboe, SEO-PR
  • Mark Johnson, Copywriter
  • Robert Lerose, Lerose Copywriting
  • Sandra Niehaus, Closed Loop Marketing
  • Don Nicholas, Mequoda Group
  • Alan Rosenspan, A.Rosenspan & Associates
  • Jim Tucker, Integrating Marketing Technology
  • David Yale, Controlbeaters

and many more over the course of the 3 days.

UK Specialised Information Publishers Association Annual Congress. Tower Hotel, London. 7-8 July.

I finish my tenure as chair of SIPA UK at the end of June and am delighted to hand over to Nick Laight of Canonbury Publishing. Nick’s first job will be to chair the SIPA UK Annual Congress and he has already been working hard to put together a great programme.

One of the sessions I am particularly looking forward to attending is a keynote presentation by Bill Bonner of Agora Publications Inc. Bill’s presentation is entitled “A perfect swarm: total integration marketing” and from what I understand it will outline the concept of combining marketing and editorial pieces to come out incredibly fast in response to topical events in the markets publishers serve. The aim is that within 2 hours of a story breaking pieces are published and marketing promotions are in the hands of prospects – both increasing the topicality and response rates of the promotion and ensuring that the publisher receives the full SEO benefits of their efforts. I can’t wait to hear it.

With roundtables, discussion forums, and tracks on marketing, publishing and content the SIPA UK Congress is without doubt my favourite of the year. Full details are on the link above.

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If a B2B marketer had launched Wired UK – part 2

OK. Apologies for the delayed sequel – school holidays, planning for a new business, Twittering instead of blogging, blah blah blah…

In my last post I looked at the launch of Wired UK. I said that it was a brave company that would launch a glossy consumer magazine in this climate and that I was generally impressed with the first issue. However, I did feel that the launch team had missed a few tricks.

If Wired UK is to survive better than it did last time then I believe the main thing the team should be concentrating on is building loyal subscribers, capitalising on the buzz of the launch & developing a variety of diverse revenue streams – key B2B disciplines that are sometimes missing in consumer publishing.

All the publicity I have seen since the first issue has been about successful newsstand sales and good initial support from advertisers. Outwardly it seems as though these are the main metrics Condé Nast are monitoring.

Fantastic; but one successful issue doesn’t make a successful business. This is especially true for a bi-monthly* where advertisers and agencies have a long time to forget about you between issues.

As any decent media marketer will tell you, subscriptions rule. Good subscription titles can enjoy 70%+ renewal rates and subscribers pay you the money up front. Subscriptions make a viable long term business and give a great message about circulation and loyalty to advertisers. Without them your business can disappear in a flash.

A quick look at the successful US edition of Wired circulation statements shows that it has nearly 90% of readers on subscription – some 614,000 of them.

The UK market is obviously a lot smaller but it shouldn’t be unrealistic to set a target of 50,000 paid subs by the end of the first 12 months & this would be my prime goal if I was running the launch marketing team. The Independent, in an analysis following the demise of the first attempt at a Wired UK estimated that it would need to sell 80,000 copies an issue to break even. 50,000 subscribers would leave a lot less pressure on the marketing budget for the promotion of newsstand sales.

So, I left my previous post explaining how the pre-launch activity should be concentrating on subscriptions (with a charter offer), data acquisition (via the web site) and social media marketing. I suggested that I would aim to have 12,000 subscribers, 60,000 registered web users and active communities on all the major social media sites 2 weeks before the first edition even hit the newsstands.

What then?

Well, I would also want to make sure that I had more than just a magazine to sell to my prospects. One of the things that’s at the core of successful B2B media is that a thriving media brand should only be the start of your business. The real money often comes from the sales of related products – conferences, training, exhibitions, books, special reports, affiliate deals etc. and the best time to sell them is when interest in your brand is at its highest – when you’re new. So let’s make the most of all these new registered prospects, social media visitors and web site readers & make sure that we have something else to sell.

Let’s also try to covert some of these people who have expressed an interest in Wired into subscribers – not just by inserting flyers in the magazine and directing people through to a subscription bureau but with direct sales contact via e-mail and the phone. As a result of the work we have done pre-launch we can have one to one conversations with a lot of our potential customers. I’d put an offer together – always with a time limit & countdown to encourage urgency – and contact all of my registered readers, fans and followers with a invitation to subscribe.

As well as contacting people on my own databases I would actively be monitoring a range of online channels to see what people were saying about the magazine. I would be seeding influential online personalities with free sample issues and tracking the conversations that are taking place online. By using the advanced function on tools like Twitter search you can get some fairly detailed prospects to call. It would be a shame to leave these people to never get round to subscribing (I haven’t yet, and I’m not hard to find…).

 

*I’ve always been confused about whether that is the right way of describing a publication that comes out once every 2 months.

Update: An interesting interview with Wired’s editor in the ‘back from the dead’ Press Gazette today – £2m first year promotional spend? Crikey.

Postcript (07/05/09) – Just seen issue 2 (June 09) & it’s also good. Also looks like I made a mistake about it being bi-monthly – don’t know where I got that from.

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If a B2B marketer had launched Wired UK – part 1

UK Edition of Wired launched this week

UK edition of Wired launched last week

Last week the UK edition of Wired magazine hit the newsstands for the first time. I have long been a fan of the US version and was interested to see how they had taken the format and adapted it for a UK audience.

Generally I was impressed. It’s a brave company that launches a glossy consumer mag in this environment but the team at Condé Nast have done a pretty good job.

UK Wired kept a lot of things that I liked from the US magazine but toned down the bleeding Sillicon Valley edge – maybe focusing a bit more on design and media instead of gadgets and west coast internet celebrity.

After the launch I was curious about what others were saying about the magazine and so did a quick Twitter search to see feedback from others. Again, it generally seemed to be fairly complimentary and a lot of people were talking about the possibility of subscribing – in fact I was one of them

But I haven’t.

Now this doesn’t mean that I won’t. In fact Condé Nast have some pretty attractive subscription options and competitions for new subscribers that I still might take advantage of but the chances of me doing so are getting lower by the day.

You see the main problem that consumer publishers have is that they lose direct contact with their prospects. No matter how good a job the Condé Nast marketers and PR machine have done to get me to buy the first edition they have no idea that I did so and have therefore lost any ability to follow up.

It got me thinking about what I would do differently if launching the magazine. 

My first job would be to build buzz in the run up to the launch. Now this should be fairly easy. There aren’t many high profile magazine launches around at the moment & the topic areas are eminently ‘PRable’. I’m sure Condé Nast have a team of in house and agency PR’s who can do this job in their sleep but I was slightly disappointed in their use of social and online media.

This for example was the magazine’s Twitter feed. It only went live on the day the first edition hit the streets and even now, nearly a week later, there are no real conversations taking place. And where are the Facebook / LinkedIn pages for fans to congregate and show support? – they may be there somewhere but I couldn’t find them and there are no links from the magazine’s webpages.

Now, how about that webpage?  What’s it for? There are some nice articles on there and a video introducing the magazine from the Editor but really; what’s it for?

As I have said already the major disadvantage the consumer publications have is that they lack direct contact with their customers – who generally purchase via a newsagent. The website should be a great way to get round this. It should be used to capture information about customers and prospects and it should offer a chance for dialogue. There is a section that asks you to ‘Join Wired‘ but what is that and why should I?

What I would like to see here is that data capture becomes the primary purpose of the page. With the buzz you can make about the launch I would be disappointed if a decent B2B marketing team couldn’t get tens of thousands of people to register on these pages – what about a free downloadable white paper, a regular weekly e-mail alert or even a free sample of the first issue? There have been lots of great books written about creating effective landing pages, it’s not difficult but is so important.

At the same time a lot of people are already going to be converts. Let’s get their money now & lock them in before launch with a special charter offer for anyone who subscribes by the end of March. The website already pushes subscription options widely but there’s no urgent call to action. When you get through to their subscription landing page it hardly inspires the customer (one of the problems with subscription bureau that try to standardise everything). I bet it has a high bounce rate.

I’ll leave this post here. But let’s assume that it is now 2 weeks before the first edition hits the newsstands. We have 60,000 people registered via our webpages, 12,000 charter subscribers and  active communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks. Now the real fun of launch starts – I’ll come back to it in part 2 (and also let you know if I’ve subscribed yet).

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