There was much debate onstage and off at last week's American Business Media 2011 Annual Conference about the best path for b-to-b media companies to take advantage of their assets to create profitable marketing services units.
Government Executive Media Group, part of Atlantic Media's National Journal Group, believes it has found a method that not only takes advantage of what b-to-b media companies do best—create content and amass audiences—but is also scalable.
The Government Executive Media Group, which publishes Government Executive, is building its marketing services business around the Government Business Council. This unit creates custom research for government marketers by surveying the Government Executive Media Group's audience of managers in the federal government.
Including Government Executive's circulation of 77,000, the council has access to a database of about 300,000 government executives collected via print, digital and event products.
Peter Goldstone, president of the Government Executive Media Group, said the group generates about 30% of its overall revenue from marketing services. Most of that stems from the council. “It's at the core of all of our marketing services activity,” he said.
Marketers such as Adobe, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and Microsoft have used the council, which was launched in 2008. Tim Hartman, general manager of the Government Executive Media Group, said the council has doubled its revenue in each year of its existence.
CDW-G has used the service, building a marketing campaign supported by ads in e-newsletters to drive viewers to a webinar discussing the research created by the council. CDW-G completed three research projects last year and plans to do four this year, Lisa De Luca, CDW-G's senior manager-federal marketing, said.
Melissa Hardt is director-public sector marketing at RightNow Technologies. She used research from the council when she was at SAP. At RightNow, she oversaw the company's first council project in March. “Every time we've worked with the Government Business Council, we've tried to make it into a full campaign for us,” Hardt said.
Not only does the council generate revenue directly for the Government Executive Media Group, it also supports the group's other media businesses, including print and e-mail newsletters.
“In our view of marketing services, if you're not going with your strengths—with your audience and your content—then you're not going to build a sustainable business,” Hartman said. He added that many marketers have turned a research study through the council into annual programs.
“It's extremely scalable,” he said.