BtoB: What are b-to-b publishers doing well online, and can you cite some examples?
Mead: Most publishers now have a much better sense of what their served markets need in terms of content, frequency and delivery mechanisms. Print magazines continue to exist, despite many doomsayers' dire predictions, and certain sectors still prefer print over online delivery. However, this is likely to change in the coming years, as digital delivery systems continue to improve (e.g., Apple's iPad). Publishers with the best prospects for long-term viability are those that use a fully integrated media approach, with one or more Web sites at its core, to bind their communities to them as the source of marketing intelligence about the industries they serve. For example, CFO magazine, recently acquired by Seguin Partners, has accomplished this well. It developed cfo.com as its online centerpiece and uses it to promote other b-to-b products and services to its readers. The Web site provides CFOs with the information they need 24/7, while the magazine provides the platform for thought leadership.
BtoB: In what areas can b-to-b publishers improve their online offerings?
Mead: American Business Media ran a session on virtual events at its Executive Forum conference last year. The audience of b-to-b publishers was very taken with the concept—lots of “oohs” and “ahs.” Nevertheless, digital expos are not a panacea for distressed publishers. Rather, they may add another valuable online media outlet to reach a targeted audience and bring customers and suppliers together. Live events are still very much alive and offer a key component that virtual events do not—a face-to-face, live interaction with potential business partners. Still, we are likely to see virtual events continue to increase in usage and size in the coming years. The overall message is that the Internet is very flexible, with new technologies and opportunities arising all the time. Publishers with the imagination and willingness to provide tailored online offerings to meet their customers' needs will find lots of ways to do so. M