A B-to-B's B-to-C Experiment
The legal division of ALM (formerly American Lawyer Media) accounts for 85 percent of the companyâ€™s revenues, says Jack Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing. Whatâ€™s more, 70 percent to 80 percent of every advertising dollar in the category already gets sucked up by ALMâ€™s magazines. Finding more revenue meant searching beyond the core market. So ALM, a b-to-b publisher, tapped the consumer market with a series of â€śbest ofâ€ť list partnerships, resulting in $4 million of new yearly revenue at a 30 percent margin.
â€śWe had to find new places to go,â€ť says Berkowitz. First stop was Best Lawyers in America, a publisher of lawyer-rating books. Since the books have no advertising, Berkowitz offered to sell ads in his magazines in exchange for access to Best Lawyersâ€™ lists. ALM handled all sales and marketing and targeted the lawyers who were chosen for the books to advertise in the magazines. Best Lawyers got a percentage of the sales.
From there, ALM took the model on the road. Recognizing an opportunity similar to the variety of â€śBest Ofâ€ť lists many regional publications routinely offer, ALM approached New York with an offer to provide a Best Lawyers in New York list.
Once again, ALM used Best Lawyersâ€™ lists to compile the content and took on most of the costs to produce itâ€”sales, billing and editorialâ€”while New York handled the promotion. The issue picked up 84 pages of ads from 104 law firms and produced in excess of $1 million in sales.
Berkowitz has since expanded the model into the weekly magazines of the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times and has run a version of the list in Fortune. The Fortune partnership is based on a 50-50 revenue split, with the magazine picking up more of the production tasks. The first year resulted in about $700,000 in revenue for ALM.
In all, Berkowitz says ALM is adding significant new revenue through the partnerships with consumer brands and picking up some new strategic experience. â€śWeâ€™re pushing $4 million a year and itâ€™s brand new revenue for us in a market weâ€™ve never been in before,â€ť he says. â€śItâ€™s also helped us to learn how to partner with people.â€ť