The legal division of ALM (formerly American Lawyer Media) accounts for 85 percent of the company’s revenues, says Jack Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing. What’s more, 70 percent to 80 percent of every advertising dollar in the category already gets sucked up by ALM’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 “best of” list partnerships, resulting in $4 million of new yearly revenue at a 30 percent margin.
“We had to find new places to go,” 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 Lawyers’ 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 “Best Of” 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 Lawyers’ lists to compile the content and took on most of the costs to produce it—sales, billing and editorial—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. “We’re pushing $4 million a year and it’s brand new revenue for us in a market we’ve never been in before,” he says. “It’s also helped us to learn how to partner with people.”