Publishing Companies, Time to Believe in Marketing

Having spent slightly more than a decade in B2B publishing, I’ve taken a good, long look and can confirm (for whoever still needs it) that most publishing companies (i.e., 99.2%) are behind the curve in terms of marketing.  That is, in their recognition of, belief in, investment in, attention paid to, and general acknowledgement given to…marketing.  They may have a couple marketers, or even more than a couple, who create the media kits and sell sheets and stuff.  Yet in my experience, the marketers are almost 100% (literally) unhappy with everything from the career opportunities to the training (i.e., not much of either).

Why one or several of the savvy B2B publishers doesn’t charge ahead and be a marketing leader continues to baffle me.  Their main customers in terms of revenue are marketers who make advertising decisions.  Wait, let me rephrase – marketers who make integrated marketing decisions.  So why the lack of investment in hiring creative marketers and implementing technology that helps them succeed?

A likely answer is the failure of marketers to demonstrate ROI for what they do (i.e., spend).  Another likely answer is that most publishing companies are run by sales and/or finance executives who focus on traditional publishing business SOP (hey, how’s that going right now?).

As Chair of the American Business Media’s Media Marketing Committee, I challenge savvy B2B publishers to make true investments in marketing — in hiring top-notch talent, in training and growing marketing staff, in using customer segmentation and data analysis to pinpoint opportunities, in using research to benchmark metrics.  There is real opportunity to be a leader and own the top talent in the market — and the business advantages that come with that.

Over on the event side of the B2B house, it’s mostly the same sitch.  Except for Reed — they get it right as far as marketing goes, and their events kick butt because of it.  If you’re a publishing or event executive in senior management and you want to get it right too, you should ask how they do it.

That’s not a plug for Reed either, it’s the truth. Look into it and you tell me if I’m wrong.


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