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Media companies have over the years expanded their product selection with various system and expert services outside traditional media. For the customers of Alma Media, this centralisation of services provides simplicity and reliability.
“Alma has been running service business since the early 2000s. We started to develop our solution services in the real estate business. It was a natural choice as newspaper advertising has always been one of the cornerstones of the real estate business. Our staff was already familiar with it, and we had the clientele,” says Raimo Mäkilä, Senior Vice President, head of Alma Media Marketplaces.
A homes and interiors service, Etuovi.com was the first step towards bigger solutions at Marketplaces. Since then the business has been broadened to cover services related to recruitment, car sales and car import.
In the real estate business and car sales, Alma's services now cover the customer’s entire business from order management systems to stock control and sales ads. Alma’s recruitment solution also cover a large scale of services: HR consultation, recruitment tools as well as guidance on successful recruitment and how to be an attractive employer.
But why does a media company want to expand its activities so far from its original core operations?
“As the use of traditional media decreases, we have to find new earnings models. The service business is an organic choice because our staff is already familiar with the everyday life of our customers in a number of fields. In their businesses, our customers can only exploit the traditional media to a certain extent, which made us think how we could offer them the best possible solution of services,” says Riikka Wulff, Managing Director of Alma Mediapartners.
Mäkilä and Wulff both say that customer feedback has been positive and encouraging. Being able to outsource the majority of services or even all of them to the same contact person and service provider is already a relief to many companies. And when all the services can be obtained from the same provider, they are also compatible.
“We are able to offer personal, tailored services and be flexible when the customer needs it. We listen to our customers carefully and process their requests swiftly without unnecessary complications,” Wulff says.
At the same time, the big company behind all this provides stability and reliability to the customers.
As early as in the 1980s there was talk about growing less sensitive to economic fluctuations in the media business, Raimo Mäkilä recalls. As regards the media itself, this has not been achieved yet, but expanding the service portfolio may be the solution.
“Service business creates stability in our sales and customer relations. Sales of advertising is very cyclical in nature, and there is not much we can do about it. During economic boom, companies invest in marketing but cut back on it as soon as recession hits. But people are more committed to systems that they have used for years: they may consider their purchase longer than the use of media, but they don’t give them up so easily when times are bad,” Mäkilä says.
It has also been noted at Alma that those customers who buy a variety of services from the same provider also advertise more frequently. In other words, an extensive service portfolio does create competitive edge. When competing for customers in the service business, however, it makes no difference whether the service provider has background in media or not.
“I think it’s self-evident that we also offer other services for our media customers. And our customers haven’t questioned our references either – our contact people are so familiar with various businesses through our media partnerships,” Wulff says.
In addition to the services at Marketplaces, Alma has purposefully implemented a corporate strategy according to which the digital service business pursues profitable growth next to the traditional print media business. Another digital service is Alma’s Kauppalehti Tietopalvelut that provides comprehensive information about properties, selling prices and residents, while a different service is provided by Alma Manu, a print and delivery service that has developed a number of new business ideas from shopping bags to parcel services.
Date: 4 February 2016
Theme: Alma solutions
Text: Linda Pynnönen