Spend Matters PRO — Advancing Procurement Publishing Distinction with Tales From the Launch Pad

Roughly three weeks ago, we quietly launched Spend Matters PRO in beta. Frankly, we saw a large hole in where we believe research in the procurement (and related areas) needs to be going. To us, Spend Matters PRO contains the frequent, extensive and expert content that research and analyst firms should have published all along for procurement (and to a lesser degree, supply chain and finance/treasury/AP) organizations. But it's not just published content -- or a lack of enough of it -- that's constraining legacy approaches. What we realized in building Spend Matters PRO is that these research and analyst firms have actually trapped themselves within the constraints of their existing business models -- more on this in a minute.

Unlike traditional firms, we believe first and foremost in publishing an exceptional depth of outstanding, focused material rather than putting a broader brand, firm or individual analyst on a pedestal as a talking head. We have what we think is a unique model that prioritizes published research and opinion above an analyst firm's typical role: occasional written analysis on happenings, periodic deep reports, paid inquiry, vendor strategy days, etc. We've been able to do this by leveraging a superior set of expert minds across our family of sites which makes our output and depth unmatched in the sector.

The characteristic subjectivity of Spend Matters has sent our subscription content rocketing ahead since we launched PRO. Combined with our PRO Research Library, it's incomparable to what Gartner, Forrester and every other firm touching on procurement have collectively published in the past few weeks, let alone in recent months.

We learned some serious lessons in the launch process, however. One of our largest business strengths is our content -- this we know. Current PRO content ranges from extremely deep coverage of the SAP and Ariba deal (that serendipitously coincided with PRO's launch, ahem) to a philosophical and pragmatic treatise on the merits of supplier diversity (and how to structure programs for success), amongst several other topics. But a quick initial sales-process slap in the face revealed that PRO access and our initial subscription model was just as fettered as other analyst and research models in the market.

Looking at our business model execution, the initial philosophy behind PRO centered on driving companies, especially providers, to annual subscription models on an "all you can eat" basis. Our thinking was to blow up the custom of "named seats" in the traditional analyst model with the intent of getting the content value of PRO out to as many people as possible, and accelerate the rate of innovation. But even if this thinking definitely has merit, we learned within a week that it was defeating another of our primary business objectives: individual empowerment.

Traditional subscription research and analyst models compel a centralized or corporate annual agreement to access content (and the analysts, for that matter). This obstructs a rapidly emerging media and publishing model that preaches self-service and self-empowerment for individual users, whether practitioners, providers, or the analysts themselves. These individuals want to learn and grow from a deep base of content without having to work through a centralized research, IT, library or analyst relations function to access material. Moreover, as the younger folks in our office like to point out, their generation (under 30) hates dealing with a human interface when they want something now. To mix historical metaphors: instant access is out of the barn, and it's not going back.

Thus we were faced with a conundrum: how do we make Spend Matters PRO ubiquitous and valuable for as many subscribers as possible (absolute number of companies and users within) without restricting individual empowerment, whether that person needs access to materials continuously or even just once? In our initial attempt to rejoin this question, we put greater emphasis on the former without addressing the latter and imposed a corporate subscription model (for providers) that required interacting with our sales team.

So we had a rough couple days in the office and, fortunately hesitated to advertise PRO more aggressively or market to our list of loyal readers. There was a lot of brainstorming and eventually, a lot of internal compromise. But the result is a good one: individual users can now sign up instantly with Spend Matters PRO Core ($295 per month or $2,995 per year) with no vetting process. This includes access to all Spend Matters premium content. And practitioners, providers and analysts (both industry and financial) pay the same price and get the same material. These are named individual seats and content/username/password sharing will not be allowed.

Qualified practitioners, by our definition, can also sign up for a PRO Basic option at a reduced amount of just $29.99 per month or $300 per year. This includes all of the goodies except our in-depth Seasons Technology Quarterly Review.

Moreover, Research Library access, including all of our standard Compass, Perspective, Briefing Notes and Research briefs, remains free to qualified practitioners who register. Our most recent Research Library addition from this Wednesday was: Human Resources & Sourcing Turf Wars: HR Departments Lose their Prescription for Sourcing Immunity. We can guarantee this is stuff that is sure to drive significant ROI when put to work while minimizing risk (e.g., in this referenced brief, we outline the potential disruption to employees vs. savings potential of strategically sourcing and buying vision, dental, life/disability, pharmacy, relocation and employee safety service and products categories vs. leaving these categories to complacent types in HR).

While our Research Library contains over fifty research briefs, a number that is increasing every month, with the PRO Core option, any member can sign up for a month and cancel if they've gotten what they need regardless of where it's contained in the Research Library or within the Premium Content section of the site -- or elsewhere (e.g., our Quarterly Seasons Technology Review). Members can also re-subscribe again in the future should they choose to. And best of all, if readers like what they see and they believe it will be of additional value for their broader organization, they can credit their monthly or 12-month PRO Core seat fees to an annual corporate PRO Premier (unlimited company seat) agreement.

Or they can just cancel the individual monthly single seat option when the budget for an annual corporate-wide seat license is built-in and approved. Moreover, with PRO Premier agreements, providers have the option to engage additional services including inquiry, reprints, custom research and a range of other related research, product strategy and marketing opportunities. And practitioners can engage advisory time and related benefits through a company-wide access agreement as well.

But hey, if all you're after is Spend Matters content, sign up today for instant membership to Spend Matters PRO and enter the future stream of procurement publishing distinction. Above all, we value our readership, whether we engage with them directly or not -- and that's their choice going forward. Which is exactly how it should be.

- Jason Busch

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First Voice

  1. Thank You ...:

    A toast to the creative destruction of past models which are less and less relevant to procurement professionals !!!!!!

    I hope you succeed with this direction. Same time, I hope someone does not take it out too early because it is threatening. That would be a shame.

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