From subs to members

The mindset for most successful businesses is to carry on doing what they’re doing. After all, why change a successful formula? Chemical Watch thought otherwise and in 2017 embarked on a period of business transformation.

By James Evelegh

From subs to members
Photograph: Alex Kondratiev on Unsplash

In 2017, Chemical Watch used its tenth anniversary as the trigger to completely rethink its business model. As commercial director Richard Butterworth tells Ciar Byrne in this week’s podcast, the management team concluded that the riskiest approach they could take was to carry on as they were, even though they had a successful business.

What was needed was some serious disruption.

To cut a long story short, the last three years have seen Chemical Watch transform its business from a subscriptions model into a high value membership model, transitioning from being a ‘product-led’ company to being a ‘customer-value-led’ one.

This constituted a root and branch reimagining of the brand and overhaul of business operations, a process expertly summarised by Richard in the podcast.

Did he have any advice for other publishers considering something similar? Yes, lots:

  1. Hire good people: don’t assume that your existing teams will have the necessary skills.
  2. Partner well: don’t try and do it all in-house.
  3. Look at how other publishers have done it. If you can find a publisher in a non-competing sector, then the chances are they’ll be happy to talk and share their experiences.
  4. Invest in good data: it will help you eliminate the guesswork.
  5. Establish a customer advisory panel, but be mindful of not asking too much of them.
  6. Articulate the value: make sure you have clearly mapped out the value proposition and that everyone can articulate it.

As Richard explained, the potential to serve customers with high value content is a huge opportunity for B2B publishers. In a world awash with information, much of it of questionable provenance, the demand for quality trusted sources has never been greater.