e.republic is a model for what many b-to-b publishers aspire to be: A multi-channel content expert established in several vertical niches (primarily government and education technology), with a booming online and events business as well as a rapidly emerging data business (which counts for 20 percent of the company’s overall revenue and is its fastest growing and highest margin operation).
Still, 2008 has been a mixed year. The events business is strong with a push into more targeted events doing particularly well, according to CEO Dennis McKenna. The company budgeted for 20 percent growth in its Web business and is running ahead of that now. Print advertising, however, is off.
Up next is an integrated marketing push combining Web, social networks, events and research designed to attract smaller marketers that haven’t had the resources to engage in larger, more traditional programs. McKenna dubs this e.Republic’s “Long Tail” market strategy.
“Like a lot of companies, probably 80 percent of our sales effort was going to 20 percent to 30 percent of the top clients,” says McKenna. “But now we’re bringing on electronic products that opened up new a range of customers who couldn’t spend half a million to a million and a half dollars in an annual campaign. But they could spend a lot lower.”
That means leveraging all new emerging products, not just positioning “online” or “events.” “When you bring on Web services, there is a whole range of products you’re bringing on, not just buttons and banners,” says McKenna. “We launched more custom newsletters and video services and we’re offering more hosted micro sites. That’s online custom publishing.”
McKenna says he expects about 25 percent of e.Republic’s total revenue to come from this type of business. “For the past two years, we invested in a content management system,” he adds. “Now we’re moving into a client management system so that there’s a lot more market intelligence and account control for salespeople. We haven’t even done it for a full-year yet, so to have that kind of growth is good.”
STRENGTHS: e.Republic’s product diversity. “We have a solid set of products across our market and our sales team that knows how to sell those products.”
WEAKNESSES: “Our coordination between business groups is not as good as it should be. Account control and intelligence on advertisers is hit or miss. In this day and age, that has to be a good process.”
OPPORTUNITIES: Emerging Web products offer the chance to target smaller, niche players at a more viable price point than more traditional advertising packages.
THREATS: The Web is commoditizing information which effects all publishers but particularly a data-focused content provider like e.Republic.
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