Building a Luxury Lifestyle Publishing Business with Drew Broomhall

This month, we released our second episode of the BrightGen Media Podcast. I talked to Drew Broomhall, the Chief Digital Officer of BOAT International Media, a luxury lifestyle publishing business with a focus on superyachts! We spoke about keeping up with competitors, working with first-party data, combining traditional & digital advertising… and more! 

I’ve summarised a few of my favourite parts of the podcast in this blog post. You can listen to the podcast in full on Spotify, or watch the video on YouTube. Our next podcast episode will be out next month with another leader in the media industry. Contact us if you’d like to participate in a future episode of the BrightGen Media Podcast.

How do you generate revenue?

Our revenue comes primarily from print – largely as a consequence of the fact that the magazine really is incredible. Every issue is beautiful! It is very much a coffee table magazine. And that allowed us to maintain the leading position in the market, making sure that we are the destination of choice for anyone who wants to advertise their product. Digital has become a much larger part of the business over time and it’s growing. That is primarily advertising: both display advertising and classified listings.

And events are a huge part of our business as well. We operate both awards and also symposium types of events. We operate what is generally acknowledged as “The Oscars” of our industry – The World’s Superyacht Awards.

Drew Broomhall
Drew Broomhall, CDO of BOAT International Media

There’s no one magic bullet in terms of business revenue. We’re trying to grow in all areas.

For print, advertising is still the most important revenue stream. And it will continue to be so just because of the nature of the product and the fact that we’re able to reach a very targeted audience. But, like most publishers, we realise that there’s not one magic bullet in terms of revenue. We’re trying to grow in all areas.

How would you describe your audience in terms of B2B or B2C?

Once we started digging into the data, we discovered a massive crossover between what you might call B2C & B2B audience. And I think it’s really a consequence of the fact that superyachting is quite a rarefied industry. There’s only a select number of people who can afford a superyacht, so we’re addressing a small demographic. But there is a huge industry that is built around it. For example, selling the superyacht sailing equipment, maintaining the whole crew and so on. The consumers are passionate about the industry, so they are purchasing both our content and our products.

What we are trying to do, in terms of data strategy, is understanding the relationship between the audiences. We have a demographic of “old” owners, aspiring owners and enthusiasts. Some might have a smaller boat, but will probably get to the point of being able to afford a superyacht, and they all feel deeply passionate about it. And on the B2B side, it’s people working for the superyacht builders, the brokerages, the ancillary services and the crew. And, of course, the products and services that we offer to each of them are different. We have the magazines that are more focused towards the consumer end of the market, we have a B2B product, and there is a bit of a crossover with coffee table books.

What is your approach to selecting the right technology and the right vendor?

What we’ve been trying to do is simplify our world as much as possible. When I joined the company, I did a technology audit. I found that we had customer data in 16 different systems, many of which were overlapping. We had four different sysWhat we’ve been trying to do is simplify our world as much as possible. When I joined the company, I did a technology audit. I found that we had customer data in 16 different systems, many of which were overlapping. We had four different systems alone selling event tickets. This is a common story amongst a lot of publishers. We acquire point solutions over time because we want to fix a problem and don’t always think about the long-term implications. So we consolidated and simplified, removing as many systems as possible, getting data out of silos and into the integrated system.

We now have far fewer systems, ensuring that those systems integrate well with each other. All of that becomes a major part of the vendor selection process for us and we’re quite rigorous on that. We want a system to give us data in the right way and that won’t create a headache later on.

How do you generally think about data and what is your data strategy?

Once we looked at data, we could see that there was so much overlap between the systems. We wanted to consolidate that as much as possible and get to that single customer view that every publisher wants. We’re making a big push on first-party data, automating what we’ve collected over time through our newsletter registrations and event attendance.

What we’re really trying to develop is a first-party data strategy. And that is an interesting challenge when you don’t have a paid subscription. So what we started with first was a data-wall product. We launched a section of the website called BOAT Business. We did it as a data-wall rather than a paywall, because we saw the value in asking customers to tell us more about themselves. It exceeded our expectations. We’ve got a couple of thousands registrations already, which is a lot for a small industry like ours.

What was your reasoning behind your decision to implement Salesforce Marketing Cloud?

We wanted a tight integration between our CRM & our ESP. We made the decision some time ago to invest in Marketing Cloud, in addition to being Sales Cloud customers. It’s working well for us. We can push data from Sales Cloud into Marketing Cloud efficiently, without needing to do any ETL or API work. It’s making the process of segmenting and activating data that much simpler. We’re developing Salesforce from being sales-focused to becoming an overall business information system. We’re maximising that investment that we’ve put into both of them.

What are the key projects & initiatives that you’re focusing on in the next 12 months?

The key thing for us digitally is going to be developing the first-party customer data and maintaining those relationships. At the moment, we’re really happy with our product portfolio. It’s now a question of just trying to do everything that much better. Which is an interesting challenge because we’re already the market leaders. But we’re driven by high standards. We ensure that everything we do from a digital perspective is done to an absolutely incredible level.

Without trying to be cliched about it, the key to success is always listening to our customers, interpreting what they need and finding a solution to their problem.

We’re grateful to Drew for an insightful conversation and to be able to share his thoughts in our podcast! If you’d like to get involved in a future podcast, please contact us today: [email protected]

Sign up to our newsletters in the footer of our website to be informed when the next podcast is available.