Small businesses can mean sizable new sales

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With competition getting ever more heated in all facets of the list management business, list owners and managers need to creatively and proactively market their lists.

One step is to take the various audiences gathered under a publishing company's umbrella and see if there are different ways of reorganizing them-with an eye toward marketers that might find a new grouping valuable. For instance, several b-to-b publishers have culled lists of small-business owners from among their various titles.

"We've seen incredible expenditures in the small-business marketplace," said Jeff Moriarty, VP-list management at MeritDirect, adding that potential customers for these lists include credit card issuers, financial service companies, employee benefit providers and office supply retailers.

To take advantage of this opportunity, b-to-b publishers need to pick up company size information every time a new customer is encountered in any medium. "You've got to be fully coded in employee size, especially one to 99 employees," Moriarty said.

"We break out the president/owner of small businesses across our titles," said Nicholas Cavnar, VP-circulation and data development at Hanley Wood. "By getting a bigger set of contacts from all our publications, shows and other lists, we have a bigger opportunity. And the list management companies have access to marketers looking for the small-business subset, and they can market our lists along with others for the greatest impact."

Steve Morris, VP-market development at Advanstar Communications, said: "We have a lot of small-business owners in our portfolio-doctors, dentists, veterinarians, retailers, engineers. In many of their purchasing behaviors, people's career choice is much more predictive than geography, for instance."

For Morris, who joined Advanstar in January 2004 to develop new business opportunities and data products, list rental is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the revenue streams that can be developed around Advanstar's audiences.

"We can sit down with a company like MBNA, which issued a special credit card for the nurses that read `RN'," Morris said. "By partnering with MBNA, we can get nine to 10 basis points on every transaction and the aggregated purchasing data. Then, we can go to a company like Home Depot and say, `Look, you have a higher market share with nurses overall, but Lowe's is outperforming you in this area.' That data becomes a tool that's predictive in creating new opportunities."

As a publishing company, Advanstar can develop this deep customer knowledge into custom programs for a variety of marketers, Morris said. For example, a brand such as Purina could sponsor a book on practice management that's mailed to veterinary practices, he said.

-Marie Griffin

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