UBM TechWeb released a white paper earlier this month titled “Marketing as a Service Takes Off: A New Model for B2B Marketing.” Written by UBM TechWeb CEO Tony Uphoff and CMO Scott Vaughan, the white paper makes the case that marketers require more from their media partners than one-off marketing services offerings, such as a webinar or microsite. Instead, marketers require “marketing as a service,” which means media companies are helping their clients create ongoing, sustainable programs. Digital Directions spoke with Vaughan about the changes UBM TechWeb envisions and what the implications might be for other b-to-b media companies.
Digital Directions: You have said that marketers' spending on their own websites and on marketing automation is driving the rise of “marketing as a service.” Can you expand on that?
Scott Vaughan: After (marketers) put in place (marketing automation) technology, the first thing they needed was contacts or leads to fill that pipeline and to start to nurture them. So they would buy media programs. Then they would get down the path and say, “We're not a media company. We need a lot more content if we're actually going to nurture someone throughout the buying process.” Brochures and white papers aren't going to do it. So where we (as a media company) are filling the gap is because we know content and because we do millions of transactions a month using copy and content to engage our own audiences.
DD: So how do you help marketers in this process?
Vaughan: We audit what content (marketers) have based on their objectives and who they're trying to reach. What information is needed at what time? Certain assets need to be optimized, tweaked; and it can be as a little as a title change or adding an abstract—or it could be a major overhaul.
DD: What are the marketing-as-a-service offerings you're providing marketers?
Vaughan: One example is we pull together communities around specific topics. We have one called All Analytics, and that is for the IT and business analyst community. (The site has) an editor, and a community, and a set of moderators and participants. That becomes a sustained platform, and you have a single sponsor behind that (which) basically uses that platform to drive engagement with that community. It's their platform, and they own it; it's sustained. We provide the technology platform, the user experience, the analytics and the expertise. We're responsible for ultimately delivering the marketing outcomes.
DD: What do you think the implications are for b-to-b media companies? What do they need to do to keep pace?
Vaughan: What b-to-b media companies need to do is think about do they want to be in that business. You don't have to offer all of these services overnight. You can get into them, because your customers will often lead you in the right direction that way. You can get started on a slower roll. The first place to go is your top customers and talk to them. You have to stop and say, “I'm not here to talk about media today. I'm here to talk to you about your marketing process, and your pain points and how you do marketing today.” Look for the opportunity and get started with your top client where there's already a good relationship.