Vance celebrates 75th anniversary: ďB-to-B has a closeness to the reader that nobody else hasĒ
April 17, 2012 - Vance Publishing Corp. is celebrating its 75th year in business serving the agribusiness, beauty, woodworking and home organization industries. In honor of the occasion, Vance (which includes brands such as The PACKER, Modern Salon, Drovers/CattleNetwork) has redesigned its corporate website and issued a ď75th AnniversaryĒ logo to be used throughout 2012 on all corporate products, including print publications, websites, e-newsletters, digital and electronic products, and research and information materials. A section of the Vance website also features Vance employees talking about their experiences.
ABM spoke with chairman Bill Vance about how the companyís mission has changed, and why b-to-b media remains more viable than ever even as the industry undergoes radical transformation.
ABM: Vance is celebrating its 75th anniversary ó how has the companyís mission changed in that time? How has the way you served your customers changed?
Vance: Itís changed a great deal in 75 years. We started out with one publication and added a second a couple years later. Today we donít have either one anymore. We started as a weekly with paid subscriptions and advertising, and we added more paid and controlled subscription publications. The greatest change since Iíve been here, (and Iíve been here since June of 1970) is the change to electronic products. Weíve gone from basically print-centric to almost completely electronic. We are producing four or five electronic publications of some type for every one print publication we have. The one basic thing that hasnít changed is trying to bring buyers and sellers together. We are now trying to bring them together as quickly as possible and in a way that they want to be brought together. With the analytics available today, they can know what works and what doesnít, which makes our job more difficult. But a few of the basics remain the same.
ABM: What strategic decisions have best positioned you for competing today?
Vance: We havenít done any acquisitions since the great recession. Iím not a technical person, but we are trying to launch apps, that type of thing, anything to help the customer, not just the advertiser. It could be special projects such as a custom magazine or an app that we produce for them.
ABM: How do b-to-b media and information companies attract top talent today? How important is professional development and evolving careers at Vance?
Vance: Itís a changing industry and people need to change with it. Weíre looking at and thinking of various products each day, everyone has to be thinking about strategic analytics that will benefit customers and advertisers. Our company is financially very strong, we donít have any debt. We can take a little bit of a risk without financial people hanging over our heads. We can make quick decisions and turn on a dime. Everybody seems to like that approach.
ABM: How have revenue ratios changed in recent years (print, digital, events, marketing services, data and information, etc.) Where are you looking for future growth?
Vance: We used to be 90 percent print, now weíre down to 60 percent print, with the majority of the rest in digital and special projects. Weíve got three or four products that we think are ripe to jump.
ABM: Can you share some more detail on what those products are?
Vance: No comment.
ABM: What makes b-to-b media and information viable today?
Vance: There is such a wide range of products that b-to-b has with the knowledge and data that is now required on every subscriber, whether print or electronic, that I donít think anybody else has. Day-to-day we are calling people to seeing what their reaction is. On a weekly basis we are going to conventions and some of our magazine people are literally out in the field in markets such as livestock and produce. Thatís what b-to-b has, data and a closeness to the reader and customer, that nobody else has. Other media might be able to get the numbers, but they canít give you true detail on a customer, such as whether they are buying a certain amount of feed, that type of stuff.