Before you all rush to ask whether I can fix you up with a foreign bride - I'm referring to matchmaking in the corporate sense. Okay
, you say disappointedly, but why?
Lately I've been giving some thought to what it is that Alphabet does, through its two magazine-driven communities of endusers. My little grey cells have been exercised by the challenge and opportunity presented by the global economic slow down.
Happily one side of the business is showing tremendous growth - and this is the provision of content for government and security endusers. This demand can be seen in the ever-increasing traffic to our web sites, the requests for new subscriptions to the magazines, as well as the rising number of paying delegates we attract to our events. So demand for information is not being adversely affected by the wider economy - in fact, the economic malaise may be encouraging our communities of endusers to review their decisions more thoroughly than before, leading to greater demand for the content we provide.
However despite this, the challenge facing a media company like Alphabet is obvious - how best to weather the commercial storm that's beginning to break in Asia?
Marketing is often one of the first things to be trimmed when customers become scarce, and Alphabet's business has historically been very dependent on the marketing budgets of the region's key IT and security companies. But before we all start wailing and gnashing our teeth, there's plenty of opportunity out there too.
Happily Alphabet has been diversifying its revenue streams over the past 18 months - so income from delegates to those conferences I was just referring to, and more recently from the training courses we put on for our security and government audiences, is not directly linked to any reduction in marketing budgets. We've also been diversifying geographically - as our events in India and China demonstrate.
But even in our core business of providing marketing solutions to companies looking to sell into government and security, I see quite a lot of silver lining where others only seem to see clouds. Here's why.
Question: What do you do when your marketing budget gets cut? Answer: You think bloody hard about how best to spend the few pennies you have left.
Companies don't stop their marketing spend in a recession - what they do is focus it on the marketing programmes that reliably deliver the best ROI.
In other words, if your business has been based on creating 'copycat' events, or mediocre content - and if you don't really have the audience you say you have, and aren't really as focused on the needs of your customers as you should be - then you might want to consider updating your CV.
Happily the FutureGov
and Asian Security Review
brands have been fully stress-tested. Our readers and delegates love our content; our advertisers get to be seen by the people that matter; our events sponsors regularly gush about the very high standards of the events we organise, and how they enjoy unprecedented and sometimes very quick ROI.
So in any flight from mediocrity to quality, Alphabet stands to be a clear beneficiary. That said, before smugness sets in, it doesn't mean that we can rest on our laurels. It's incumbent on any company to always ask questions like 'Do my customers know how seriously we take their business? Do they know how much harder their marketing dollars work when they give them to Alphabet?'
Because everything Alphabet has done over the last five years has been built ground-up from the needs and interests of the readers to our magazines, and the delegates to our events, our brands mean something. If you're looking for a trusted provider of information on public sector modernisation - then FutureGov is for you. If you need the lowdown on anything security-related, then reach for anything with the Asian Security Review logo on it. Our magazines are genuine stamps of approval - not because I say so, but because our readers do.
So since we have created and sustained this reader trust - they're open to the companies that partner with us. And because our readers and delegates are open to listening to what our advertisers and sponsors have to offer - we're able to offer guaranteed lead generation, by matching interested buyer to willing seller. In other words, matchmaking.
I won't say here how exactly we do it, as the last thing I want is for copycats out there to start offering the same service and confuse the marketplace - but we've been doing it for a while now, and the participating magazine advertisers have been pleasantly surprised. If you want to know how it's done, get in touch with myself (+65 97635123) or J2 (+65 6336 0859).
I believe that there's always opportunity out there. You just have to look for it in the right places.