Shoes for the cobbler's child

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An age-old proverb, “the cobbler’s son has no shoes,” refers to the still common practice of using one’s expertise for others while neglecting to take care of oneself. B-to-b media companies are in the business of helping clients make the best use of their content and capabilities. They haven’t typically applied that same thinking when they market themselves online— but that’s changing.  

Last April, IDG’s marketing group, led by Matt Yorke, senior VP-sales and marketing, introduced the IDG Knowledge Hub. IDG has historically had a decentralized corporate structure and its brands operated independently in the market, so the Knowledge Hub afforded it a way to showcase the growing number of its services and products that cross brand boundaries. Taking the advice he would give to a client, Yorke wanted to stay away from pure self-promotion. “We decided to create a site marketers would come to on a regular basis because they’re finding information that will help them do their jobs,” he said. “We have some of our own content, but we also link out to other sources.”  

There’s also a branding initiative at work. In the digital world, scale is currency. “More and more, clients are looking for big companies with big audiences,” Yorke said, “but many [marketers and agencies that] are connecting with our individual brands don’t understand the power of this organization.” Collectively, Yorke said, IDG’s brands in North America reach approximately 15.5 million unique visitors per month. IDG’s TechNetwork, which reaches a network of prescreened blogs and independent publisher sites, adds another 40 million uniques, he added.  

The theme of the marketing campaign that introduced the IDG Knowledge Hub last year, “Engagement matters,” will soon change. “Were constantly refining the message,” Yorke said, hinting that the next will highlight IDG’s scale.  

At the beginning of the year, Hanley Wood Business Media launched a home site,, in addition to the corporate gateway, www.hanleywood. com. Ann Seltz, the Business Media division’s VP-marketing, explained that the development of the site was funded with money saved from the conversion of all print media kits to digital.  

She employed other efficiencies, too, such as using templates for the digital media kits and keeping them to nuts-and-bolts, brandspecific information while using the Business Media site for everything that cuts across brands. The site was also made affordable because Seltz used an outside vendor, already working with Hanley Wood, that had done something similar for another client.  

The site features a search-enabled Product Finder with Flash demonstrations of the full line of the division’s advertising and marketing products, from display and classified ads to peel-back and preroll video ads. “We have so many Web sites and so many products that it can be difficult to explain them all,” Seltz said.  

In addition to being useful for clients, the demos are being used internally to train new salespeople, help inside salespeople make phone presentations and ensure that each product is explained in a consistent manner, she added.  

At United Business Media’s TechInsights, a new company marketing site is almost ready to debut, said CMO Jenn Markey. It will incorporate TechInsights Direct, a tool launched last year that allows media buyers to design and buy their own advertising online.  

Similar to IDG’s Knowledge Hub, the TechInsights marketing home will provide information marketers and agencies can use themselves. Just last month, the company announced a collaboration agreement with Marketing Sherpa, a provider of news, case studies and best practices in digital and integrated marketing. TechInsights will provide its clients with access to research and education that Marketing Sherpa typically sells, Markey said.  

“We’re seeking to engage more with our clients and audience,” she added. “We want to provide them with tools, like TechInsights Direct, that are unique, and objective information.”

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