ABM's Marchesano outlines his agenda

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Last week, Mike Marchesano took over as managing director of the American Business Media division of the Software & Information Industry Association, a new position. Founded in 1906 as the American Business Press, ABM merged with SIIA on June 30. Marchesano most recently was president-CEO of Aequor Media. He was a managing director at investment banking firm Jordan Edmiston Group from 2007 to 2011. From 1999 to 2007, he held top leadership roles, including president-CEO, at VNU Business Media, which was renamed Nielsen Business Media in January 2007. Before that, he was president-CEO of BPA Worldwide. BtoB: How is the position of managing director of ABM, as a division of SIIA, different from the president-CEO post at ABM before the merger? Mike Marchesano: As far as direct leadership of ABM, the title has changed but the role is still the same. Working with the ABM board of directors, my job is to continue to create new and valuable services for our members. The difference is now ABM is part of a larger organization, SIIA, of which Ken Wasch is president. I am very excited about the marriage of ABM with SIIA and, in particular, with the Content Division, which greatly complements what the b-to-b media companies are trying to do as they expand with data, information, analytics and work-flow tools. BtoB: What are your top priorities and goals for ABM? Marchesano: I have a threefold mission, which is supported by the ABM board. First and foremost, I want to focus on positioning ABM to be even more instructional, not only in terms of the information ABM has traditionally delivered but also in providing greater direction on the ongoing transformation of the industry. B-to-b media companies are all struggling with some aspect of the transformation of the industry from primarily print to a portfolio of print, digital, events—both live and virtual—and marketing services. There are still questions that need to be addressed and answered when it comes to strategy and implementation. Second, I want to make sure we are not just talking to ourselves, but that we are also talking to the advertiser and agency communities—understanding their issues, their challenges, how what we're doing is aligned, or not aligned, with their needs. My experience at BPA, which was a tripartite organization made up of media owners, advertisers and agencies, showed me the value of reaching across organizational boundaries for the betterment of the industry. I'm looking forward to talking to my counterparts at the Business Marketing Association, at the Four A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies), the DMA (Direct Marketing Association), MPA (Association of Magazine Media) and IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). I think ABM and these organizations can work together on a host of topics and initiatives, whether it's research, metrics, marketing or education. The third goal is to do a better job of aligning with our audiences, the ultimate user and reader base of the ABM member companies. We need to know how we can leverage and capitalize on the relationships, technologies and information we already provide to raise the level even higher, because we know these audiences have more choices than ever. BtoB: ABM member companies are reaching out to businesspeople across the entire spectrum of industries and professions in the country. How can ABM access this huge and diverse market? Marchesano: ABM member companies have identified, analyzed and classified those audiences, so we have the benefit of having them defined. As we continue to transform as an industry, my agenda is to make sure ABM members can deliver products and services that meet their audiences' needs at a time when so many industries are going through changes. This is something we could potentially do with some of the other SIIA divisions, which also serve a wide spectrum of business audiences. BtoB: The primary revenue model for ABM has been an annual membership based on revenue of the media members. Will that change now that ABM is a division of SIIA? Marchesano: There may be opportunities to change the model in the new structure. As we go through the integration of ABM and SIIA, we will look at that, but it will take some time to work out whether it will change and, if so, how. BtoB: Beyond the board of directors, the primary avenue through which members have been involved in ABM has been committees and councils. Do you anticipate any changes with them? Marchesano: ABM's board members are interested in being more actively engaged with the councils and committees. Historically, the committees and councils have been led by people involved in various operational roles at member companies. That will continue, but there will also be greater involvement by board members in a strategic role.
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