Handelsblatt shares 5 steps to expanding its brand into niche products

By Martin Dowideit

Handelsblatt Media Group

Düsseldorf, Germany


At Handelsblatt, we are known for providing news and analysis on politics, business, markets, and personal finance. We receive praise for trustworthiness within our readership and beyond it. In one survey, we ranked as the most trusted newspaper in Germany. We deliver high-quality journalism.

We are trying to build on this great brand recognition by providing even more in-depth reporting. About a year ago, we started the endeavour to launch high-priced, industry-specific newsletters. In the industries we choose to enter, we want to become essential reading.

The team at Handelsblatt took a deep dive into data and reviewed similar publications when developing and expanding its own niche offering.
The team at Handelsblatt took a deep dive into data and reviewed similar publications when developing and expanding its own niche offering.

These are some of the steps we took in the process. They may be helpful if you are planning to expand your brand through new subscription products.

1. We looked at our data

In which industries did we see stories driving subscriptions for our main product? How do readers judge our reporting within these segments? What is the market for trade publications in the segments we identified? What is the pricing structure? What is the way decision makers in any industry want to receive their news? How can we provide something valuable to them? Should we only focus on reporting or should we have offerings through events and digital meet-ups as well?

We interviewed dozens of managers in different industries to see if there were any niches or any approaches to reporting missing within their industries. We also looked at other similar publishers and publications, like our sister publication Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, Watch Medier in Denmark, Het Financieele Dagblad in the Netherlands, and the Wall Street Journal Pro line of products.

2. We created business newsletters

Our line of business newsletters are published twice a week with exclusive content within the newsletter. There is no click needed after opening the newsletter. Newsletters have become the most important means of information for business leaders, and we want to make the consumption of the content as easy as possible.

3. We created a new subscription product

We are focusing on the real estate industry with our publication Handelsblatt Inside Real Estate and on the transformation of the healthcare industry with Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health. A regular subscription runs at €49,90 per month.

4. We focused on events

We planned to join forces with our events group from our very first day. We are creating beautiful industry events for our target audiences within specific industries. We are offering LinkedIn groups for exchange and ad hoc briefings via video conference. Step by step, we are building trusted brands all based on high-class reporting by small, specialised editorial teams.

5. We shifted our revenue source

Our main revenue stream is subscription revenue alongside content marketing. This is the only advertising format we are allowing so far within the newsletters — no flashy banners anywhere.

Here’s what we can say so far about the experience: The endeavour is worthwhile, and we are on the path of discovering the best way to build long-term relationships with top-tier decision makers.

About Martin Dowideit

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