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ABM panel: When it comes to innovation, b-to-b publishers must be more proactive

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New York—Despite the rapid proliferation of new distribution channels and intense competition for readers, b-to-b media companies play it too safe when it comes to building innovation throughout their enterprise, Tonia Ries, president of Modern Media, said Wednesday during an American Business Media-sponsored seminar titled “Unleashing Innovation: Give Your Team Creative License.”

“A lot of publishers are pretty cautious and risk-averse,” said Ries, whose has worked with such companies as 101communications, CMP Technology and VNU Business Media. “You have to ask yourself: What is the tipping point that loss of readers, loss of sponsors and loss of ad dollars is going to get you to the point where you are willing to take risks?”

Ries stressed that b-to-b media companies have to be ramp up efforts to find new audiences online and make their brands relevant for that arena. She pointed to McGraw-Hill Cos.’ efforts to capitalize on references to BusinessWeek on myspace.com, which holds great appeal among teenagers. “You need to leverage the brand because the brand is what travels,” Ries said.

Another member of the panel, Chetan Chandavarkar, director of product development at futurethink, said, “A lot of companies have the misperception that innovation is to take a big bet. But there’s a difference between smart risks and stupid risks.”

—Matthew Schwartz

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