American Business Media has suffered in the recession, cutting both its budget and staff. Many of the organization's members, enduring the plunge in advertising pages that's averaging about 30% industrywide, have either left the association or are paying reduced dues.
To adjust to the current economic reality and help members grapple with the seismic shifts in the media sector, ABM has developed a new strategic plan, which was presented to the membership this morning.
William Pollak, CEO of ALM Media and chairman of ABM's strategic planning committee, and Gordon T. Hughes II, ABM's president-CEO, said the plan represents more than a slight adjustment to how the organization conducts business.
“It's a radical change,” Pollak said in an interview with Media Business. “There is cataclysmic change going on in the media industry. We need to help lead that. We need to help lead our members' response to that.”
The new plan has five “pillars”: networking and education for members; government policy and industry standards; research to show marketers; research for media executives; and membership retention and recruitment.
ABM plans to expand networking opportunities by having more frequent regional events. It hopes to join with other organizations, such as the Association of National Advertisers and Online Publishers Association, for more professional education events.
With a focus on government policy and industry standards, ABM plans to move beyond simply lobbying the federal government about postal issues. Net neutrality, for example, is a growing area of concern, and ABM intends to build coalitions with like-minded associations to support its members' agenda in Washington, D.C.
ABM also plans to increase its research to show marketers the effectiveness of b-to-b marketing in its chief forms: in print, in person and online. The association hopes to link with other organizations, such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau, to produce joint research. “We can get more bang for our buck,” Pollak said.
The association aims to make its research about best practices for b-to-b media companies more forward-looking. Instead of benchmarking salaries or supplier costs for the past year, ABM surveys will attempt to gauge prices members expect to pay in the coming year, Hughes said in an interview.
Additionally, ABM plans to use its committees and councils to lay out best practices in their areas of expertise. “ABM will become the fount of knowledge through the expertise of these professionals who are members of the committees and councils,” Hughes said.
Finally, ABM's new strategic plan includes a revamped member dues structure designed so that dues will be lowered and revenue from them will be more predictable. Instead of a straight percentage of revenue, dues will be based on a range of revenue. M