B2B publishing and media businesses are increasingly exploring how to create data and intelligence products for which they can charge a premium subscription, often £10,000 pa or more. Combining proprietary data-sets, user friendly search, and insightful analysis and forecasts, they help senior business decision-makers identify opportunities more easily and save research investment.
Earlier this year I interviewed several B2B media businesses and professional membership organisations that have successfully developed data and intelligence products, including Ascential, Euromoney, Centaur, IET, RICS, AROQ and Briefing Media. My report on my findings, which was sponsored by Merit Group, summarised the key lessons from their combined experiences.
1. Product development
- Be clear about who exactly your prospective customers are
- Get customers involved early on in the process – ensure that your product tackles their main problems
- Check product features with customers regularly throughout the development process
- Extend data sets for convenience; even if some are available elsewhere
- Build in personalisation and tools to create a habit
- Add visualisation and exports – make it easy to interpret trends visually and share them with colleagues and customers
- Build data history into trackers and predictive tools
2. Organisation and team
- Explore alternative approaches to data sourcing: combining local editorial team with offshore data teams
- Involve analysts in customer pitches, offer demos and understand the buying process
3. Marketing and Sales
- Offer multiple packages at different price points
- Encourage enterprise licences with multiple logins to widen usage and advocacy
- Price based on the value delivered to the client
- Offer free content to build authority and credibility
- Provide user education and support to establish a habit
- Review analytics and take action to encourage renewals
4. Additional products and services
- Create specialist reports using analysts to interpret data trends
- Offer bespoke consultancy
- Provide membership and networking services to subscribers
5. Strategic Development
- Develop product versions for new job roles and adjacent markets
- Internationalise data coverage and relevance
- Develop new premium subscription products
- Take the same concept into a different market
Launching a new data and intelligence product from scratch can take a significant investment in customer research, data acquisition, technical development and building a dedicated sales team. Alternative approaches include acquiring an underdeveloped existing data business, or converting a print-based directory or reports & research business to digital format.
If you’d like to talk through in more detail how you might be able to develop a premium data-driven intelligence product and how you might apply the learning from these examples, please get in touch for an initial, confidential discussion.
About the author
Carolyn Morgan has over twenty years experience launching, growing, buying and selling specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. Carolyn now advises publishers large and small on their digital strategy and writes and speaks on the topic of digital publishing strategy for media sector publishers and events.