Sitting in between B2C and B2B subscriptions is a growing market The Wall Street Journal calls B2P, or business-to-professional. This new approach focuses on what busy professionals need in their daily lives.
While B2B subscriptions provide tools like risk and compliance services, the B2P approach skews differently, said Christina Komporlis, senior vice president/WSJ Professional Membership.
“What we’re selling is access to The Wall Street Journal for employees in their organisations,” she explained. “We also sell tailored subscriptions that are deep and narrow on particular topics, like bankruptcy and private equity.”
The professional vertical also sells C-suite memberships, which are invitation-only memberships for CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CMOs. These memberships include events, news, product, and community services.
Rethinking the sales funnel
While the focus of the content for the B2P product is specific and caters to niche topics for businesses, Komporlis said what truly sets it apart is the difference in the sales funnel.
“There’s an extra step that we’ve added,” she said. Just as with its B2B marketing, the B2P approach uses an awareness campaign, brand messaging, content marketing, and direct marketing to pull people into the funnel. However, when B2P prospects show interest in a topic, they are contacted by a sales team dedicated to the Professional division.
“They need to understand more about what they’re getting,” she said. “It’s a more complex product and a bigger investment; they need to talk with someone. So the layer we’ve added is telesales and an account manager.”
The account manager plays a key role in making sure subscribers stay engaged and are using the platform. The idea is to make sure each user is getting value out of the subscription to ensure a more robust experience for the organisation as a whole. A single B2P sale can range from just a few subscriptions to tens of thousands, she said.
“The important part is keeping them engaged,” she said, emphasising the value of the account manager. “It doesn’t do us any good to sell your whole organisation access to the Journal and only 1% of your employees are using it. Because when renewal comes up, we’re not going to be able to convince you that it’s worthwhile.”
To further enhance the experience, the account manager works to understand the goals of the organisation and what they want from their subscriptions. That has led WSJ to explore a new approach for tailoring the content to the organisation, an approach that currently is in the testing phase and has received positive feedback from users.
Becoming a “must-have”
While there’s a lot of talk about dashboards and tools, Komporlis said the bigger priority is having a solid core news proposition that’s helpful to the business organisation you’re targeting.
“The first thing really is understanding the market you’re going after. Why are you a ‘must-have’ and not a ‘nice-to-have’ for them? Because budgets get cut quickly, so you need to make sure you are a must-have. Your core proposition needs to work.”
At the WSJ, the way the content is packaged is a big part of the programme’s success. Because the organisation has so many offerings and can also draw from other Dow Jones-owned publications, it can offer robust packages. That includes events, tools, and services from across the Dow Jones platform. Its corporate subscription project also includes a customer engagement programme called WSJ Plus, and subscribers get a newsletter tailored to their industry.
Komporlis acknowledged WSJ is in a unique and advantageous position because of the breadth and depth of its resources. But she said each publisher should look at their strengths to determine the best path forward for them in the business subscriptions space.
“I don’t think you need to bend over backwards trying to add [new features]. I think it’s good to get the core proposition right, make sure you’re targeting the right people, make sure your pitch is right, and you’re bringing value to your customers,” Komporlis said. “Look at where you’re strong in your content, because there’s probably market opportunity in the places you’re already good at. Then, you ask the customer, ‘This is our proposition, what else can we do to make you interested?’”
This case study appeared in the INMA report, The Growing Promise of B2B in Media's Reader Revenue Model.