Just one conversation

I’m a big believer in the power of connecting with other industry pros. The reason? Because over the past 30-plus years in this industry, I’ve witnessed what happens when LBM leaders leave their company for a few days and travel to learn, share, and network with peers. As I write this, a few members of the LBM Journal team and I, along with hundreds of other media pros, are preparing to travel to New Orleans to do just that at the annual Niche Media conference.

My initial experience attending a conference with fellow publishing peers was in 2005, shortly after launching LBM Journal. Back then, there were essentially three national magazines serving the LBM industry, and LBM Journal was the smallest by far, and maybe best described as the burr under the saddle of the big guys. I wanted to change that, so in the hopes of learning something that could help me grow my business, I attended a publishing conference in New York.

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There’s one conversation from that event that I’ll never forget, because the result of it, went on to play an outsized role in the growth and success of LBM Journal. It happened during a publisher’s roundtable, where we were encouraged to share our biggest challenge. At that point, we desperately needed something that would set us apart from our much larger competitors.

A fellow publisher recommended one of her vendors, a company called Baxter Research Center. I reached out to Baxter upon my return, liked what I heard, and decided to give them a try. Not only did it work, their adViewPRO studies became among our top sales tools. As the years went on, we consistently gained market share on the leader…until suddenly in 2017 we found ourselves the market leader. Then, in early 2020, when COVID-19 began rearing its ugly head, I had the opportunity to purchase Baxter Research Center. Which brings us to today.

Now, when I attend the Niche Media conference, I do so as a publisher (of LBM Journal) and a sponsor (Baxter Research Center—brc.com). I’m not sure where LBM Journal would be today were it not for that one conversation. Because Baxter relied solely on word-of-mouth marketing to grow its business, it’s likely that I would never have heard of them had I not attended that event.

As a newly minted publisher, what I didn’t know would have filled volumes. I did know that my best bet was to learn from others who’d been in my shoes. I found at that conference that people want to help. That welcome reality made my path forward with this media company that much less daunting.

Conferences aren’t for everyone. But they can be life-changing for people who truly want to learn and are open to seeking out those who’ve “been there, done that”. We built the LBM Strategies Conference with that in mind, which focuses on learning from others—with plenty of networking time to connect with old friends and make new ones.

Whether it’s the LBM Strategies Conference, or an event hosted by a vendor or an association, I encourage you to consider attending. When you do, open yourself to making new connections. You never know when just one conversation will have a lasting impact on your business.

— Rick Schumacher
Executive Editor & Publisher


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