The Big Questions - Michael Marchesano

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Q. As you prepare to become 2006-07 chairman of ABM, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing the industry?

A. From my perspective, there are five key issues facing our industry. These are the challenges that will redefine our industry and require ABM's leadership in providing the insights and strategies to convert these challenges into opportunities.

1. Anticipating the ever-changing needs of our audiences and marketers, who are clearly in control, to deliver content and marketing solutions in the format and communications platforms when they want them and how they want them.

2. Developing new economic models that enable us to recapture and grow revenues that have transitioned from print to digital by transforming our sales forces into consultants in partnership with their marketers delivering customized integrated solutions.

3. Hiring and retraining content providers (a.k.a. editors) as brand stewards with the skills and flexibility to deliver relevant content embracing all the new content models, including user-generated and third party-aggregated content.

4. Forging viable alliances with third parties, including search engines, content aggregators, work-flow tool providers, webcasters and podcasters, video streaming and rich media providers.

5. Protecting and enhancing our brands to ensure that they transcend this citizen-journalism, open-source information era.

Q. What are the best ways b-to-b media companies can take advantage of search marketing?

A. B-to-b has the advantage of being inherently more niche than mass consumer media, which allows its media to connect a more targeted audience with a more targeted marketing message. The key to search marketing is for b-to-b media companies to develop enough traffic to generate the revenues necessary for this type of revenue model.

Q. Are the main search engines friend or foe?

A. The major search engines have been able to move into the b-to-b space through contextual marketing models. However, the traffic these search engines generate for b-to-b sites, along with the revenue they can generate through partnerships, is much more valuable than any revenue taken by search engines.

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