That’s the thesis of “The Growing Promise of B2B in Media’s Reader Revenue Model,” a study from the International News Media Association (INMA).
Publishers realize “ there is an opportunity in selling to businesses — and they also are discovering that the way you sell to businesses is very different than selling to consumers.” author Paula Felps writes.
One strategy is to offer engagement-based pricing structures. The Financial Times has grown its B2B subscriber base from 250,000 to over 625,000. Realizing that people who consume nine or more articles per month are likely to renew, FT offers a corporate rate in which people who read fewer than nine are free.
Another factor is the way businesses buy. Instead of launching new products, The New York Times offers enterprise subscriptions for business readers. “What differentiates the enterprise experience isn’t the content, it’s the way that content is accessed and who pays for it,” Felps reports.
One more tactic is to position the subscription as an employee benefit. Schibsted targets larger companies where 50%-70% of employees were users while migrating to 100% digital subscriptions. During the pandemic, it repositioned subscriptions as a benefit akin to a gym membership.
Business gains can also accrue from partnerships with the right companies. Insider works with strategic partners in ways that will benefit all parties, including news media and partnering companies.
Also, publishers must help B2B prospects through the funnel. The Wall Street Journal added a telesales team to provide education to help move the decision-maker toward 'yes’ and account managers who accompany subscribers on the journey after the sale,” Felps continues.
They should consider Webinars and other selling mechanisms, too.
Nikkei now conducts 95% of its B2B sales activity online. Prior to the pandemic, 70% was done in person. The company has added chatbots and Webinars, while shifting focus to larger firms with 100 accounts or more. And it is mulling flexible pricing for each company.
“Selling to a consumer is about persuasion, which is not how you approach a business,” states INMA researcher-in-residence Greg Piechota. “You need to educate them about the product and what value it offers. You may need to be sort of an advisor, teaching them the best ways to use it.”
Piechota says "this is about diversifying and using the opportunities [publishers] have available to them. For general news publishers, there might not be any other way for them to scale than to go after bulk acquisitions.”