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B2B or Consumer Readers? The Winning Formula May Be Both

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Min, the magazine for brand leaders, has a story this week that highlights what ReadWrite and Fashionista are familiar with first-hand: creating content that's interesting industry professionals and enthusiasts is a winning formula.

It's a good read which we've reprinted here with permission from min and the author, Cathy Applefeld Olson.

Balancing Interests: Industry Insiders & Industry Enthusiasts

Categorizing readers into b2b or consumer silos is so last millennium. Increasingly, digital publishers are creating content with equal interest to industry professionals and industry enthusiasts. It's a balancing act, but one that can pay off in spades.

Two Say Media brands are seeing great success erasing the line between b2b and consumer. Exhibit A is New York-based Fashionista. Before editor-in-chief Lauren Indvik arrived six months ago, the site was running one or two business stories a day. Now, industry news fills about 35% of the daily pipeline.

The reason? Indvik says, "I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the business stories were doing," pointing to spikes around stories about insider company news, technology in the fashion industry, earnings and marketing-all with an eye to unique stories and angles. "We recently did a story on how hard it is for designers to get investments. That's not a story you'll see told elsewhere."

For Fashionista, keeping industry insiders coming back "is about providing a mix of thing," she says. "You can come to the site to find out what's going on in the industry, how the business works and hear stories of successful people working in it, which is inspiring for younger readers trying to break in."

Making sure consumers interested in fashion are equally served is a balancing act. "I try to make it a must-read for the industry, but we have an audience there that does not work in the industry."

It's a trend that's cutting both ways, Indvik tells min. "We've seen this a lot in the entertainment trades-Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter going beyond just industry news. I believe in the hybrid."

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In San Francisco, blurring lines has been in tech blog ReadWrite's DNA from the start. "The classic model for technology journals is either you're for consumers or for professionals-either a gadget guide or a trade publication. ReadWrite has rejected that dichotomy from the beginning," says editor Owen Thomas.

The decision to equally serve professionals and consumers has been validated through the site's 11 years. Thomas recalls a recent meeting with a Microsoft executive who told him there are 10 million professional software developers, but another 10 million who may not draw a salary writing code but consider themselves developers. "Look at the creator of Flappy Bird," Thomas says. "Yesterday he was a consumer, today he's a developer, tomorrow he may be a businessman."

What's more, "the people who are the most passionate consumers often are professionals in the field. They might not necessarily be a programmer, but they could be marketers for a tech-driven company, people who make decisions about technology for their business," he says.

For ReadWrite, the editorial mantra is writing stories with equal appeal to readers. "The best stories are the ones that cross the line." Thomas' own tech-fitness column personifies the melding of professional and consumer interests. A tech pro may want to know the best companies to develop for; an enthusiast may want to know which wearable to buy.

"The price we pay is small. Sometimes our colleagues in marketing and PR have to work harder to explain us. It takes a bit more time, but it's worth it," he says.

Keeping insider and enthusiast interests top of mind takes "editorial finesse and a clear notion that all these readers are our readers and, simultaneously, they may be in all these categories," he says. "If you speak to them purely as one or the other, you're going to insult them. It's about treating your readers as human beings rather than categories."

min contributor Cathy Applefeld Olson is based in Northern Virginia. She also is an editor at min sister publications Cynopsis and CableFAX Daily.

Check out Cathy Olson's original piece on min here.

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