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Monday, February 18, 2008

United Business Media and the Honda Strategy

UBM are a bit like Honda. When Honda wanted to crack the Indian market they decided to break in not with their latest products but with an old version of their 50cc motorcycle. If the economy is new, give them them old products until it is sophisticated enough and wealthy enough to afford the new.

David Levin, the UBM CEO is using his PR Newswire brand and his events business model to break into both China and India. He may be doing some online too, but the clear thrust of his interview with Livemint is that the old model is the main core of activity. Levin is known for being clever and he went to business school, so he will have read the Honda case study. Hard to fault the approach I suppose.

Thinking though that the future of business media might be something to do with digital I was struck by this quote;

"We build professional communities through 258 (trade) shows, 225 trade magazines and 300-400 websites catering to different niches." It just seemed a bit strange for the CEO to know to the precise unit the number of trade shows and magazines that he owns, but to only be able to guess the number of websites with a 33% uncertainty. If digital was at the heart of UBM strategy as you might sometimes think if you read all the hyperbole about Searchmedica, you'd think he'd know wouldn't you?

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