Thursday, July 14, 2005

Being a B2B benchmark

Many a journalist in B2B media describes his publication as "the voice of the industry" it covers. I've said that's an outdated concept in the age of conversational media. And I believe that trying to be such a voice is a sure way to get your publication excluded from the conversation.
Wouldn't it be better to be the benchmark of an industry? To be so well respected that the prices people pay for goods are based on what you say? Wouldn't it be wonderful, in other words, to be the Dow Jones in the Dow Jones Industrial Average?
It's a lofty goal. And whenever someone achieves that level of respect in an industry, it's worth noting. So congratulations to Reed Business' ICIS, publisher of Chemical Market Reporter and related offerings. ICIS is launching something called the ICIS-LOR Ethylene Index (EIX). The index will be used as the benchmark settlement price at the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange for the world's first over-the-counter (OTC) ethylene futures contract.
That's the sort of brand-name recognition that should be the goal of every B2B publisher.
Consider how difficult it becomes for ICIS' rivals to call themselves the dominant force in the ethylene market when the ICIS brand is attached to the commodity's price.
On the other hand, consider how easy it is for someone armed with the tools of new media to compete against ICIS in other areas.
Is there anything that could stop a standalone journalist, armed with a video camera, some b-roll and this article from producing a rival to ICIS' television service?
(FULL DISCLOSURE: It's worth noting that ICIS competitor Platts is the benchmark in the trading of some other chemicals. And it's worth noting that both Platt's and OPIS are benchmarks for some petroleum product prices. I work on a number of newsletter products for OPIS.)

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