I got some interesting feedback on my post regarding UBM’s #EELive event both negative and positive reactions. I said I would have more to say on this and here it is.
UBM fought the good fight to deliver to B2B industry what it needed, which was an independent source of news and analysis for many years. About five years ago, it decided to give their customers what they demanded, which was a place to repeat the same marketing collateral they send out to their customers, both on line and in person. UBM found this a much more profitable business as they saw their marketing services eclipse editorial in revenue. Today, editorial brings in about 7 percent of the total revenue and trade shows generate a whole lot more. As a result, UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller declared a couple of years ago the company was not longer a media company but a marketing services company.
Focusing on events and marketing services allows the company to pivot quickly whenever marketing budgets change. If a conference they run starts to cool off (and EELive is so cool they are moving to Santa Clara Convention Center next year) then UBM will switch to hotter industries, like computer gaming (Game Developers Conference), where exhibitors and participants can listen to their own messaging.
The vision of the market most companies have is akin to a many walking toward a cliff holding a full-length mirror in front of them. Everything looks great until they run out of land. They need someone to point out that a cliff is coming; someone they trust… like an independent journalist. Tom Foremski over at the Silicon Valley Watcher has been calling for a return to the good old days when corporations financially supported an independent press. I’d love that, too but it ain’t going to happen. There are too many senior executives running corporations who don’t remember what a robust press was all about. They can’t see how anyone who lives off of advertising revenue can be objective. Over the past 20 years, I think they may have a point, but that’s an entirely different discussion.
What they do understand is that customers are not accepting marketing messages and I’ve written often about why that is. All conferences work off the same mailing lists from the previous year with very little change, UBM’s included. It is an echo chamber of marketing. That’s not the fault of the vehicle but the fault of the content. The content fails because it’s going in the wrong direction for the most part. There are customers out there who want to know how you can help them, but first you need to know how to help. That comes from conversation and that is not what is happening at the conferences.
Foremski is right; industry needs independent vision, but we’re past the point where that vision can be provided external to each corporation. The corporation needs a journalist, acting independent of marketing and sales, providing insight to marketing sales and even the C-Suite.
More to come.
Don’t want to wait to figure out how to get on track. Call us at Footwasher Media for an analysis of your content strategy … before you go over the cliff.