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Ideas For Growing B-To-B Audiences

Stepping away from traditional avenues to focus on overlooked opportunities.


TJ Raphael By TJ Raphael
04/26/2012 -12:50 PM






Expanding the b-to-b audience is something all publishers in this demographic are trying to do—growing circulation beyond traditional bases is essential in 2012 and something Nick Cavnar, vice president of circulation for Hanley Wood Business Media, understands.

When looking at new media versus a qualified model, media professionals can see that the results provide somewhat of a schizophrenic audience model, Cavnar told an audience of about 30 at a recent meeting of the National Trade Circulation Foundation, Inc.

Print circulation sticks with the old rules, Cavnar said. The cost of print, paper and postage favors the highly qualified audience model, while new media focuses on new metrics of tracking what an audience views, opens, clicks and likes as a way to validate qualifications.

The question of breaking with the traditional, said Cavnar, is worth considering.

“Adding additional ‘expanded’ circulation by sending the digital edition to newsletter lists, event attendees and others normally means going to a broader list that isn’t as tightly qualified as the print circulation,” he tells AD. “Expanded circulation might include business groups outside of the core advertising market—smaller companies, distributors and manufacturers as well as end users. Expanded circulation may also show up as non-request sources in a BPA statement that’s always been 100 percent direct request, or might include 3-year dates.”

Cavnar is right. Looking beyond your traditional audience to target and convert newsletter recipients, trade show and conference attendees, and Web visitors as part of your qualified audience is an easy and effective way to expand reach. But, what about less obvious means of expansion, and not just with digital editions?

Young people in colleges and universities around the United States could be a perfect source to expand your b-to-b audience, capturing an entirely new generation of professionals while they are in the beginning stages of their careers. While converting new bases and young professionals can be an effective way to expand reach, there can be some issues associated with breaking from the norm.

“The ‘problem and concern’ here is whether sales people and advertisers will understand the added value of these broader audiences, when for so long they’ve focused only on very tightly qualified print circulation,” says Cavnar. “The challenge for publishers is to show that they are still delivering the tightly qualified core, but can offer additional broader coverage to the advertiser at very little or no additional cost, due to the lower cost of delivering the digital version.”

What about taking it a step further, beyond just the digital edition? A b-to-b magazine about construction, for instance, could contact college and university level architecture and design programs around the country and offer a subscription to students that could be incorporated into the course curriculum. Courting college professors could grow circulation--they could position a publication as a vital information source on the current market climate in a particular industry and secure new demographics for years to come.

Furthermore, if offering a subscription at cost, a reduced price subscription—maybe $100 a year—is considerably cheaper than the majority of academic textbooks and something the majority of students and educators would likely be open to. Take the New York Times as one example. While it isn't b-to-b, the paper offers journalism and communications students a discounted subscription, and the news reported in the publication is leveraged into classroom discussions and courses.

Whatever the avenue, the market is ever changing and looking beyond the traditional audience is not only an effective way to expand circulation, but vital to capturing overlooked bases of professionals.

T.J. Raphael is the Associate Editor of Audience Development Magazine. 





TJ Raphael By TJ Raphael -- T. J. Raphael is the Associate Editor of FOLIO: Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael.

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