John Siefert • President, Informa Exhibitions US

Virgo and Informa: Next Chapters and New Beginnings

So it has been 3 years and 3 quarters since I joined Virgo, and boy has it been an incredible journey. Brand launches, brand extensions, audience strategies, product launches, event launches, people moves, new leaders taking the reins, web development and IT scale, marketing services development, art and design evolution and much, much more have filled the time I have been a part of this great company. And now, all of this becomes part of the Informa Group under Stephen Carter and Will Morris’ leadership.

Virgo will now become a cornerstone to the US Exhibitions business from Informa, and I will be moving into the role of President. For all of my colleagues at Virgo, this represents (as it does for me personally) the next chapter in what we can imagine, what we can create and what we can become. Not a blank slate, but a new beginning for the people, products and brands we have created, and a platform for future growth.

From my own perspective, I could not be more enthused and excited about this next chapter for Virgo and for all of the people at the company. Why? Well, I decided to make a top 10 list to define exactly why this is a great union that benefits our people, products, process, position, attendees, users and customers:

Here is to the future!

John Siefert
President, Informa Exhibitions US

Sarah Waschler, Senior Director, Events

When a Backup Plan isn't Enough

As an event planner, it is ingrained in me to plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. I thrive off of color-coded lists, and enjoy going into a day knowing when I have meetings and when I have open time slots to get everything else done. My brain is just wired to be an event professional.

I learned pretty early on that sometimes the best laid plans don't necessarily come to fruition. About 10 years ago, I served as co-director for a sleep-away camp for at-risk children. This camp held a special place in my heart as I had spent the 8+ years before that as a camp counselor and support staff member. We spent many months feverishly programming every aspect of the camp, from the evening programs to day-to-day activities, as well as building out the menus for every day. We coordinated bussing logistics, staff training, art projects, infirmary staffing – you name it, we did it. And then, less than one week before our camp was scheduled to start, wildfires hit the neighboring town. These fires were devastating and the town was hit hard. The decision was made to cancel this camp and I was devastated. I was heart-broken that we would not be able to provide this incredible experience to our kids. Our best laid plans would become obsolete. While we wallowed in pity for just a bit, we had to course-correct. Notifications were sent to the agencies that provided the campers as well as to our amazing volunteer army of counselors and support staff. All those plans (binders upon binders of plans) were set to the side, some of them to be used the following year, some to be thrown away.

I have been reminded many times over the years that your Plan A, or even your Plan B or C may not work due to changes in the scenarios around you. I was most recently reminded of the need to be flexible in a post-show debrief meeting our team had with our CEO, John Siefert. We had just returned from an incredibly (if I do say so myself) successful Channel Partners Conference & Expo. This was our biggest event yet and everything was executed quite smoothly. But one of the most valuable lessons that we learned at this event, was that sometimes the best laid plans don't always work out as planned. What should we do when a reception scheduled for 20 people turns into 50? Or when a well-known rock star starts his mic-check in the room above our keynote presentation? You create a new plan on the fly. Because even If you have a Plan B in place, it may not work with the new parameters that you are facing.

On a day to day basis, it's easy to get frustrated when things don't go as planned. Sometimes those changes are easy to brush off, and sometimes they make you want to retreat to your room with a bottle of wine. But sometimes a little course-correction can be a learning opportunity and make you just a little more prepared for the next crisis. Learning to embrace these changes has taken time, and I think I have become a better event professional because of it.

Sarah Waschler
Senior Director, Events

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

Introducing Petfood 2.0, a new event defining the future of the market

The pet food market is experiencing unprecedented innovation and disruption, including the emergence of new ingredients and technologies and the development of previously unseen products to fill new consumer demands. We are seeing the introduction of niche products for pets that address a wide range of consumer interests. Many of the same issues driving product development for human foods are now impacting the products we want for our pets. Consumers want products that are healthy, natural, safe, affordable and enjoyable for the pet. These demands are fueling the development of pet food and treat products that are grain free, vegan, designed for weight management, all natural, raw, for older pets, etc.

We have been seeing this innovation firsthand through our audience for the SupplySide Animal Nutrition Insights website we introduced last July. Product developers, marketers and other leaders from the pet food industry have been joining the site and downloading content such as our Digital Magazines, Reports and Analyst Desk Videos. Based on this strong audience interest in where the pet food industry is going and what to do about it, we are introducing a new event for the market called Petfood 2.0, taking place Sept 23-24 at the Chicago Hilton downtown. We will be discussing, debating and defining the future of market, with an emphasis on the science of formulation, packaging and distribution.

The Science of Formulation
Check out the love™ brand dog food from The Honest Kitchen. It is gluten free and produced with dehydrated ranch-raised Midwestern beef, sweet potatoes, chard and papaya. And then there is the Halo line from Ellen DeGeneres that includes Spot's Stew, just one of the company's many foods made without the traditional use of chicken meal or rendered meats, something the brand is aggressively pointing out with direct comparisons to other products on the market. Look at comments from pet owners on any site with such a forum and you will find a very passionate, active, opinionated group of consumers. Some believe that all processing is bad and advocate for a diet of fresh, raw food. Others focus on the science of nutrition and how our advanced understanding of what these animals need to be healthy can result in a superior processed product. Check out the stream of comments tied to this article and video on about "species-appropriate diets." Since it went up just under 1 year ago, it has been viewed more than 68,000 times, shared on Facebook more than 2600 times, and tweeted more than  100 times. At Petfood 2.0 experts, leaders and disrupters in the market will discuss, debate and define the science of formulation and what the future holds.

The Science of Packaging
Beyond the ingredients in these products, we are also seeing some great innovation in the science of packaging. How can packaging preserve and protect the product? How can packaging differentiate a product in the market? What about sustainability? The industry has evolved far beyond the standard Alpo can (though cans are still great packages), and consumers have more options than ever. Purina obviously gets the importance of this area as demonstrated by this statement on explaining why the company uses polypropylene packaging for its large pet food bags. Just last month, cei won two awards for a new bag it designed for Natural Life Pet Food. This bag offers up to 75% less damage throughout distribution, shelf differentiation and expanded branding opportunities. It is also reusable, recyclable and printed using all water-based inks. Pretty cool! As for the science of packaging, there is a lot. Check out this video and accompanying report from Shikatani Lacroix that dives into the top pet food packaging trends and the top drivers of consumer purchasing decisions. At Petfood 2.0 experts, leaders and disrupters will discuss, debate and define the science of packaging and where it is going.

The Science of Distribution
When we think of distribution, we think of the entire value chain. Where did the ingredients and components come from? How was the product put together? And ultimately, how did it get into the consumer's hands and the pet's mouth? Are procedures in place to avoid safety or quality problems? Is the product as fresh as possible? Of course the situation everyone points to is the melamine adulteration disaster in 2007. With thousands of pets sickened or killed, the impact on pet owners and the market was and still is profound. If my dogs were injured because of something in their food, there would be hell to pay. The melamine event is still a hot topic of discussion and will be for a long time to come. Just today, this column on went up with advice for what to do if your cat's food is recalled. Now, not all recalls are due to melamine or even safety issues, but melamine and the memory of what it did will forever be in consumer's minds. That said, industry is taking important steps to avoid another tragedy, including making big investments in supply chain management, testing and quality control, and transparency. And companies are talking about this with consumers to earn and maintain their trust. Check out the language from Hill's about how they ensure quality and safety. No mention of melamine of course, but we all know what the point of this is. Additionally, there is disruption and innovation in where consumers are getting pet foods and treats. Certainly the market leaders are doing fine as pet ownership and spending rise. Petsmart just reported a nearly 20% increase in earnings per share versus 2012 and sales growth of 4.3% to $6.9 billion. This during a time when retailers in many markets are struggling as reported in today's column on The Deal Pipeline. And while Petco and Petsmart are selling product online, there is a lot of disruption in this space. Sites like,,, and many more are providing consumers with a lot of choices. PetFoodDirect offers 132 different varieties of just Blue Buffalo brand dog food and more than 16,000 products in all. And consumers are noticing; the PetFoodDirect website has nearly 400,000 likes on Facebook. Then again, Petsmart has 2 million likes. At Petfood 2.0 experts, leaders and disrupters will discuss, debate and define the science of distribution and what tomorrow looks like.

Petfood 2.0 is new, different and focused on what is next. We will deliver on this promise with several unique approaches that make the event truly "2.0". All educational content will take place on our Main Stage right in the expo hall, creating a busy, energized trade show experience for all. We will break from the traditional lecture/podium presentation style and instead have experts, leaders and disrupters on the Main Stage with a talk show / interview format and fast-paced, provocative discussion and debate. We will introduce the Petfood 2.0 TwentyFour, an awards program celebrating the 24 most disruptive and innovative products to come to market. And there is much more.

I want to thank DuPont, Horn, Kemin and Sentry Manufacturing for their commitments to the Petfood 2.0 concept before we even announced it publicly. They share our vision and point of view. I know many others do as well. In fact, I have been scheduling briefing calls with key suppliers in the market for the last 2 weeks, and the response to what we are doing is great. If you would like to talk about Petfood 2.0 and the pet food market, just email me at or call me directly at +1 (480) 990-1101 ext 1108 anytime. You can also watch a short video about it at and follow along on Twitter via @petfood2 and on Facebook.

Please plan to join us and hundreds of experts, leaders and disrupters at Petfood 2.0.

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Office: 480-990-1101 ext 1108
Mobile: 602-421-6079
Twitter: @jonbenninger

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

Closing the Talent Gap through Mentoring

I recently attended the CPZ: Channel Partners Zone session at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas and a major topic of conversation was the talent shortage and how to address it. The group seemed to agree that finding people with the right skill set who are a good cultural fit for the organization is just the tip of the iceberg.  What seems to keep most of us up at night is the gap between someone having an education or a skill set and the experience that simply takes time in the role and industry.  It seems that we are missing the segment between early career stage and 10 year veteran. How can we accelerate the level of real life experiences that the early-stagers need to allow them to contribute and add value at a higher level?

One answer to that question is mentoring.  I believe that it is our duty as industry veterans to share our experiences and teach the people who we hire? Perhaps someone doesn't actually have to experience everything themselves and could benefit from the experiences that we have already had. It is a proven fact that scenario-based training is extremely effective and we all know the value of role playing.   A trusted advisor, such as a mentor, has opportunities to teach on a regular basis.

Mentees can also keep the veterans on the pulse of what is new, innovative and exciting to folks who are just entering the workforce. The things that are valued by early-stagers are often different from those valued by veterans.  If we want to keep people joining the pipeline we need to do a good job of attracting them to the industry, teaching them what we know and then finding ways to retain them. This level of information can only be attained through open communication which is yet another opportunity in the mentor/mentee relationship.

Ok, we have established that mentoring is a good idea and why, but now what?  What are the action steps? If you already have a formal mentoring program, that is great but I think mentoring can also happen organically and in a less formal manner.  Veterans should volunteer their time to organizations and associations to help develop talent in the industry. This is a good way to influence many as well as identify individuals who you feel have solid potential and take them under your wing.  This also works from the point of the mentee.  Try to take advantage of ways to connect with thought leaders in the industry. If you meet someone whom you admire, invite them to lunch and discuss the state of the industry.  I think the best mentors that I have had in my career and the ones that have had the most influence on me, with our relationships lasting the longest, were based on an organic connection versus being assigned.

Regardless of whether you are assigned a mentor/mentee relationship or if one develops naturally, we all have the responsibility of sharing our knowledge and experience with others.  Here is my challenge to you; if you are a veteran and you have not mentored someone new in the last year – do it now, don't wait!  If you are newer in your career and there is someone who you admire and might want to model your career after – ask them to lunch.  Everyone has to eat, right?  Start there and see what happens, maybe we can close the talent gap sooner than we think.

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

John Siefert • CEO

The Personal Medical Technology Space: Is It the Next Big Thing?

I've been learning more and more about the category of personal tech as VIRGO readies for a new event and media brand launch. The launch is coming soon: Q1 2014, and the industry is exciting. The personal technology space spans from the gadget "cool space" (Google Glass) to wellness (Nike Fuel Band) to the extremely innovative medical space (NUVANT Mobile Cardiac Telemetry (MCT) System).

The real opportunity in the market lives between the wellness space and the medical space. This is where general practitioners, surgeons, sports medicine doctors, pulmonologists, cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, nephrologists, and other specialists focus on the condition-specific application of personal and implantable technologies for patients of all ages. What would be considered "cool gadget" products, like Google Glass, are swiftly being applied in amazing ways to the medical space.

As exciting as this technology is, there's a void in high-quality, consistent media coverage, and that's why VIRGO is debuting a new website and event focused on personal technology. The brand is called PersonalTechMD and will serve medical doctors who are recommending or will be recommending this technology for their patients.

Why do we find the medical uses more interesting than the popular and trendy consumer side of the industry?

Because medical applications have the ability to improve a person's health, and therefore, improve their quality of life.

The expertise of the medical doctor becomes paramount for success—how should the personal technology be applied? What does the collected data mean and how can it be interpreted to improve health?

These are questions that patients will ask doctors and specialists. The PersonalTechMD website will be a destination for medical professionals to get the latest news, analysis, case studies, clinical trial information, expert blogs and more, and will provide answers to many such questions.

Parallel with the site will be an annual PersonalTechMD conference and expo that will bring together the brightest minds in the space to discuss, define and prognosticate on current technology and its potential. This dynamic group will include leading vendors setting the technology innovation bar, and medical professionals who are learning about personal technologies for monitoring, organ replacement and more. 

A good example of a personal technology that we are intrigued by comes from Madrid-based Nuubo, with its Necg product for cardiac remote monitoring. Check out the site; they have a cool video showing how the Necg works, and offers a real-world example of how this product has helped patients. The site also features a cardiologist―who is on the Nuubo scientific advisory committee―explaining how the technology works, and what it makes possible for the patient and the medical professional.

As we launch the site and event, we're collaborating with smart, future-thinking medical professionals. The industry is full of them. A pioneer in the field is Dr. Rafael Grossman  who is championing the use of personal technology (glasses) in the operating room. Here is a very cool interview with Dr. Grossmann featured on YouTube regarding his experience at a recent summit. His opinion on personal tech? "The future is amazing, and the possibilities are endless."

We're on the lookout for medical innovators applying technology for patients. Feel free to contact me at to discuss our plans. If you're a manufacturer of new technologies, schedule a briefing with Michelle Beaver, managing editor of PersonalTechMD, for the potential of being included in our launch.

Art Wittmann, a former vice president at InformationWeek, will be leading our content strategy for the site, and will be creating a series of analysis pieces and blogs chronicling developments in the space.

They can be reached at:
Michelle Beaver:
Art Wittmann:

Stay tuned for the launch of PersonalTechMD during Q1 of 2014, and look for our event to be running in Q4. Let us know if you want to participate. It's an exciting industry and this is just the start!

John Siefert

Heather Granato, @heathergranato, VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Keeping Ahead of the Curve

The start of any New Year is filled not only with resolutions but with projections for what the coming year will hold. Market research firms around the globe send out their ideas on the top flavors, the diets that will rise (and fall), technologies to watch, expected hot movies and so much more.

One of the interesting pieces that came out in January was from Mintel, a global market research firm focused on exploring innovation and parsing data to prognosticate on what the future might hold. The new report, US Consumer Trends for 2014, hits four big picture trends that have the possibility to affect businesses across myriad industries. And in reviewing these trends, I was struck by the alignment with the efforts of VIRGO, both broadly and around our Health & Nutrition Network.

Trend #1: Internationalism on the Agenda

For years, there has been talk about the interconnected global economy. Mintel's report noted people are using social media and technology to eliminate geographic barriers and find information from a sources around the world. And as consumers are traveling internationally and getting exposed to more ethnic foods, they're seeing themselves as citizens of the world. This could lead to more support of "local" on a global level.

That concept of supporting economies around the world was something that was discussed in our debut issue of The Boardroom Journal, which launched last fall with a focus on sustainability. We've also seen great engagement around our content focused on China, whether the Ingredients from China Immersion Center (including a great report on industry perceptions around sourcing from China) or the 20-minute SupplySide Global Experience documentary, Investment & Innovation in China.

Trend #2: Life, Streamlined

"Consumers want faster solutions to their problems, resulting in technology that answers those problems--only to lead to a demand for even faster solutions." We're used to multitasking, Mintel stated, using our smartphones to remain digitally connected even while having real-life social interactions. In addition, Mintel notes half of consumers who use nutritional foods and drinks do so because they're easy to consume on the go.

To help formulators who are looking to develop more of those on-the-go food and beverage products, Food Product Design recently launched the FoodTech Toolbox

And lest we forget that business-people are also consumers, this interest in faster solutions crosses over into VIRGO's Cloud and Communications Network, which has seen great growth around the Cloud Partners Insights website and live event. These programs are designed to help channel partners determine the best strategies around bringing cloud solutions to customers, supporting their business growth.

Trend #3: Drawing the Digital Line

Even while consumers are plugged into their smartphones more often, they are becoming more cognizant of the need to unplug and reconnect with the "real world". Mintel noted there is a need to balance living online and having the in person interactions, affording a need to facilitate "pleasurable, non-digital, here & now experiences."

What that has meant at VIRGO is developing robust online Summits as well as in-person events that foster great business connections. For example, the Environmental Hygiene Digital Summit in the Medical Network drew 800 industry professionals to the live debut of the video-based platform, affording them the opportunity to engage in live Q&A with the presenters, as well as another 1,000 to the on-demand platform. And the next few months bring two of VIRGO's industry-leading in-person events—the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in late February and the Inside Self Storage World Expo in late March.

Trend #4: Investing in Prevention

Perhaps most interesting for our Health & Nutrition Network is Mintel's finding that consumers are taking more proactive steps to improve their health: "Around half of juice drinkers consume it to increase their servings of fruits or vegetables as well as to improve their vitamin and/or mineral intake. Furthermore, nearly one-quarter (24%) of people who take vitamins, minerals or supplements do so to compensate for poor eating habits."

The firm suggests brands have a prime opportunity to help provide solutions to consumers for issues such as weight management, as well as "stealth health products", which they suggest take the form of familiar foods and beverages, but with added nutrient fortification. This even expands into the personal care sector, as Mintel's survey found 34% of U.S. women say anti-aging products should be used at the first signs of aging.

That focus on health, prevention and product development can been seen across all the brands in the Health & Nutrition Network. It's integral to Natural Products INSIDER's content around dietary supplements and functional foods, and extends into Food Product Design's brand promise of delivering content about the application of science-based ingredients in innovative food products. And the SupplySide brand delivers online content, live events and much more to connect the global supply chain across the food, supplement, personal care and animal nutrition markets.

Ultimately, trend forecasting is an interesting reality check to look at where your business is heading, and whether there might be opportunities you hadn't considered. Hopefully 2014 will bring you great prosperity as you explore new trends and set your own path to success.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Danielle Dunlap, Vice President, Marketing Services

Happy New Year!

The sun is quickly setting on 2013 and the dawn of a shiny and new 2014 is just around the corner. Before we close the book completely on 2013 though, I wanted to take a look back at a few highlights of what has been a fantastic year of development and accomplishments across our Networks here at VIRGO.

In March of this year, we went live with our Marketing Services website, a one-stop-shop for marketing services that outlines many of the programs we offer along with illustrating how we work to achieve the great results we have on our various programs. With video overviews of programs along with a Connect with Us sidebar that will enable potential clients to connect with their respective industry's Network, we're able to build on our strategy of enabling our clients to surround their potential customers, our audience, with relevant information and offers that help drive their decision making process, and make them a more qualified lead/prospect.

Over the course of the year we launched our successful Digital Summits platform in our Medical, Health & Nutrition, and Business Solutions Networks with more planned to roll out across the year for all Networks including Cloud & Communications. Digital Summits are a new experience in online education, optimized for professionals who require deep-dive information to help them make the purchasing decisions necessary for their role. You can register for our January 15th Digital Summit for the H&N Network titled 'Growth Opportunities in Probiotics Demand Responsible Marketing and Positioning' here. This is just the start of what looks to be an exciting year in Digital Summits across the company!

Building on the success of our previous Insights launches under SupplySide, we added SupplySide Insights Animal Nutrition in July to the family and the response has been tremendous to both the website and the Insights Summit held at this year's SupplySide West show that's available to purchase on DVD at our SupplySide Store.  In the Medical Network, we also unveiled our first Infection Control Today Insights on the topic of Surveillance in May with another on Surface Disinfection launching in January '14. In Cloud & Communications, we created the Channel Partners Cloud Insights co-produced with The 2112 Group that is a destination site for channel partners to find information they need to develop a cloud practice and to create business value for their customers from cloud solutions.

Taking the idea that many of our innovative programs can be cut, pasted, and optimized for our brands across the company, Inside Self-Storage is working on their first documentary about building a solar-energy supported facility that will have its official screening at this year's Inside Self-Storage World Expo! This builds on the documentary structure that we first started with SupplySide Global Experience Documentary: R&D that won a min's best of the web award earlier this year and continues on in Health & Nutrition with our SupplySide Global Experience Documentary: Innovation & Investment in China that premiered at this fall's SupplySide West show to great acclaim.

With video content becoming more widespread across the world, we added TV channels to many of our brands that include Natural Products INSIDER, Food Product Design, Inside Self-Storage, Channel Partners, and Infection Control Today that house our NewsDesk videos as well as video updates, trends and interviews prevalent to those in their industries.

We also developed new destination sites within our Cloud & Communications and Health & Nutrition brands of Channel Partners and Food Product Design respectively with the advent of the Toolbox website that is an open library of resources of a particular area in an industry that includes video, slideshows, infographics, reports, and more! We first started the year with the Business Value Toolbox for Channel Partners to help solutions providers position their telecom and IT solutions as ways to create business value for their customers. As it proved to be quite a success with the audience, we looked to developing it for our Food Product Design brand in the form of the FoodTech Toolbox that provides tools and solutions for food scientists by food scientists. Also in Food Product Design, we launched the new Boardroom Journal, an online-exclusive brand that explores concepts being debated at the boardroom level that impact business planning and strategy in the food and beverage market, delivering content in an easy-to-consume digital format along with complementary assets such as video, infographics, slideshows and more.

On the store front, joining its sister sites of Inside Self-Storage Store and SupplySide Store, we have created the Channel Partners Store which enables our customers in the telecom and IT channels to purchase on-demand content that is relevant to their business.

In Events we had and have some really incredible things happening…

2013 proved to be a watershed year in growth and development for VIRGO and we are shaping up to expand upon that in 2014 and beyond with the amazing pool of talented people we have driving our success from all levels and departments, there's no limit to where we see ourselves going.

Cheers to a happy and healthy New Year's!

Danielle Dunlap
Vice President, Marketing Services

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

Content Marketing: Walking the Talk

More than likely you have heard me and probably one or more of my colleagues talk about "content marketing" during the last couple of years. We've been talking about it a lot. We have also been doing it a lot. All of this came together last month at the SupplySide West trade show and conference in Las Vegas.

I bring this up because at the same time we have been working with hundreds of the world's leading companies to build smart, effective content marketing programs, we have also been building and executing them for our own company. It is no accident that 12,000 people from the world's top food, beverage, supplement, personal care, animal nutrition, and pharma companies converged at the show in November.

Here are some examples of the content marketing strategies we used to make this happen, and that you can use to drive your business.

Animal Nutrition Insights Summit
During the past several years, we have seen an increasing number of people from the animal nutrition market attending SupplySide and using our Food Product Design and Natural Products INSIDER websites. This has been an organic development in our audience as these companies and individuals search for content to help them navigate this market. The key drivers that we see in the human consumer products market are also impacting the animal market: natural, healthy, clean label, organic, wholesome, safe, transparent, substantiated, compliant, etc. Recognizing this, we built a plan to fill this void with content to help these people out. This culminated with the launch of SupplySide Animal Nutrition Insights in July 2013, underwritten by Horn and Lonza. During the next four months we created and provided analyst reports, digital magazines, videos, expert columns and slide shows going deep into the animal nutrition market. This attracted more than 1,200 key decision makers to join the website and download content. As this audience grew, we planned the first-ever pre-conference summit on animal nutrition to take place the day before the SupplySide West expo hall opened. Traditionally, an event organizer would build such an event and then mount a large and expensive advertising effort to promote it. We still did the traditional advertising and PR activities, but the key was our ability to connect with the 1,200+ members of our audience who joined our Animal Nutrition Insights website. Personally. In context. By building this engaged audience via content marketing for months before the event, we were able to exceed expectations and attract more than 200 people to this event.

Beverage Insights Summit
Same approach as above, but with content focused on the beverage market. Same results as above but with a large gathering of key companies and people from the beverage market.

FoodTech Toolbox Roundtable Breakfast
On Oct. 1, we introduced the FoodTech Toolbox, underwritten by WILD Flavors, an online resource for food technologists under our Food Product Design brand. Literally a "toolbox," this site provides videos, slide shows, infographics and other content that food technologists can use in their actual workflow to solve problems and create products. After only a few weeks of launching this site, we reached out to select individuals who had joined the site to invite them to a private roundtable breakfast during SupplySide West. At this breakfast, we would discuss some of the most pressing issues of the day, such as how to develop successful products that meet consumer demands for natural, clean label, healthy products that taste and look good. The event came together and was led by our executive editor and leader of the FoodTech Toolbox initiative, Lynn Kuntz.

Tocotrienols Workshop
Within the dietary supplement industry in particular, we view tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) as a rising star with incredible market potential. We wanted to focus on this by introducing a post-conference workshop at SupplySide on this topic. Rather than just creating the workshop and advertising it, we built a content marketing program. Two months before SupplySide we launched a digital magazine entirely focused on tocotrienols. It examined the market potential, the science and the business opportunity. As people in our audience registered for and downloaded this digital magazine, we invited them to the workshop. Again, a successful first event built upon a logical, uncomplicated content marketing approach.

Contextual Audience Marketing
Each of the above examples shows how we used content to connect with individuals in our audience around specific topics, and then leveraged this connection to bring them to contextually relevant events at our show. Now, extrapolate this approach to our entire audience and all topics of interest to them. We did. With more than 40,000 registered members of our SupplySide, INSIDER and Food Product Design websites, we have a unique ability to understand in which topics each person is most interested. We then mapped these topics of interest to the parts of our SupplySide show that are related. Rather than "blasting" everyone with the same ad or message, we were able to reach out to individuals and share with them the specific parts of SupplySide most relevant to their businesses, jobs and strategies. The impact was the largest growth in attendance we have ever seen at the show. Then think about how this is leveraged across the entire VIRGO platform through our marketing services team, and you have an idea of the power behind the theory.

Some of this gets into a bit of the "secret sauce" behind our business strategy. I am sharing it for a couple of reasons:

  1. It shows that we actually apply the same strategies that we provide to our clients.
  2. It demonstrates that these strategies work.
  3. We have invested significant time and resources to build this out, so even if a competitor understands our strategy, it will take a lot of time, thinking, and money to try to duplicate what we are doing.
  4. You can apply these same logical approaches to your business and see similar success.

As you consider how to use content marketing to connect with your potential customers (our audience), reach out to us for insight and strategies. We've been walking the talk for a while now, and we are happy to share with you.

Jon Benninger
Office: 480-990-1101 ext 1108
Mobile: 602-421-6079
Twitter: @jonbenninger

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

SupplySide West Expo and Conference

The 17th Annual SupplySide West Expo and Conference is just a few weeks away! It’s a very busy time here in the home office, like Santa’s workshop in the month of December. The team effort to execute this event is incredibly impressive. Sure, everyone in the events department is busy, but this stretches to each employee of VIRGO: sales, editorial/content, marketing, art, art production, marketing services, audience marketing, web, IT, accounting, executive management, mailroom, photography and video. This does not include a host of third-party vendors that help facilitate the event. VIRGO brings 50 employees and 15 vendor staff, and hires approximately 50 temporary staff to assist in producing this event on-site. The execution of this event is a massive undertaking and every employee of VIRGO deserves a shout out!!

This five-day event includes exclusive opportunities that only happen once a year at the industry’s largest event: education, networking events, awards, golf, poker tournament, receptions, association meetings and more, not to mention the amazing Expo Hall. A few of this year's notable items?

Wifi – Our entire SupplySide West footprint will be wifi compatible! Whether you’re on the show floor attending the ECA reception or attending our SupplySide Education, wifi is available to you.

Mobile App – Take full advantage of wifi and prepare to use the SupplySide Mobile App. Compatible with all smart phones, you can download the comprehensive mobile app by scanning the QR code or visiting

GMP Trainings - The recent increase in FDA inspections and enforcement activity within the dietary supplement space highlight the importance of knowing GMPs (good manufacturing practices) inside and out. Join top industry trainers as they dive deep in the specifics of GMPs and help you manage this important aspect of your business.
Wednesday, November 13, 8am-5pm
Thursday, November 14, 8am-5pm

Featured Speaker, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D. - Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., came to FDA as director of the agency’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs. In this job, Dr. Fabricant advises FDA on policy issues involving dietary supplements, including the safety of new dietary ingredients (NDIs), cGMPs and problems reported by consumers. He’s also responsible for developing enforcement priorities and interpretations of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in order to ensure that dietary supplements are safe, meet quality standards and are accurately labeled.
Thursday, November 14, 9-9:50am

SupplySide West Golf Classic - The world-class Revere Golf Club will once again host the tournament where awe-inspiring views of the Las Vegas city skyline and mountains abound. With 200+ golfers, there are endless networking opportunities at this annual marquee event.
Wednesday, November 13, 8:45am-3:30pm

Editor’s Choice Awards Reception - Our editorial team will recognize the most innovative product launches in 15 categories: Animal Nutrition, Antioxidant Supplements, Beverages, Functional Food, Digestive Health, Hair Care, Multivitamin/mineral, Nutricosmetics, Omega-3s, Organic, Packaging Design, Skin Care, Specialty Dietary Supplement, Sports Nutrition and Weight Management. Winners will be announced at this hosted bar reception Check out our finalists in each category at
Wednesday, November 13, 5-6:30pm

Expo Hall – There is nothing like it in the world. The 2013 show floor is the largest yet, featuring 1,700+ booths offering more than 10,000 ingredients and services.
Thursday, November 14, 10am-5:30pm
Friday, November 15, 10am-5pm

SupplySide Why - Returning to SupplySide West, this innovative program has been modeled after the popular TED talks and has been created with the attendee in mind. The SupplySide Why stage, located on the SupplySide Expo Hall floor in Booth #28073, will feature two full days of short, dynamic talks, presented by industry thought leaders, innovators and leading marketers. These talks will stream live onsite in registration and in the education lounge, and online for optimal access. SupplySide Why is an event you won’t want to miss, and is open to all SupplySide West attendees.
Thursday, November 14, 11am – 2:55pm
Friday, November 15, 11am – 2:55pm
Expo Hall: Booth 28073

Go to to take a closer look.
See you soon!

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Heather Granato, @heathergranato, VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Taking the Lead

There's been a lot of talk in the last year about leadership, and particularly women and leadership. Sheryl Sandberg's book, "Lean In," got a lot of folks talking, and she has acknowledged that it's not always been easy to talk about the importance of addressing gender disparities in the business world.

She noted while girls have made great gains in academics, that hasn't translated into more women in higher management. One of the big contributors, she noted, is what she called a "leadership ambition gap." If more men than women aspire to leadership roles, it's more likely there will continue to be more men in those positions.

However, this situation is consistently changing, and more dialogue around the topic builds more awareness, and more companies and organizations can lead change. One example Sandberg offered was the work at the Harvard Business School; the new dean appointed in 2010 made it his mission to close the gap in academic performance between male and female students. She wrote, "They laid out a new, communal definition of leadership: 'Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.'"

Sandberg started on her own journey of speaking out around women and leadership in her 2011 Commencement speech at Barnard College, where she stated, in part: "Find the right career for you and go all the way to the top. ... I hope you navigate the difficult times and come out with greater strength and resolve. I hope you find whatever balance you seek with your eyes wide open. And I hope that you have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world."

Things are continuing to progress, even if forced along by higher profile dialogue. For example, take the September 2013 Harvard Business Review, which had several contributions around women in leadership, including interviews with 24 CEOs who are creating more diverse organizations, insights on gender bias and how it is often harder for women than men to overcome, and a research roundup on current findings. But given my position in the B2B universe, I gravitated to the piece by Cathy Benko and Bill Pelster, "How Women Decide: In B2B selling, it matters if your buyer is female."

The authors, current and former Deloitte employees, discussed the findings of their research—started in 2006—into how senior women make B2B decisions. Among the variations in style that they called out were the way women often viewed meetings with a potential service provider as a chance to explore options in a collaborative way, while men see such a meeting as nearing final vendor selection. Similarly, men put out RFPs as a tool that outlines the rules and sets boundaries, while women offering an RFP use it as a guide that will then allow more exploration. The Deloitte team also found traditional male buyers in B2B markets want their power over the potential vendor to be acknowledged—think about bringing in your CEO to have a steak dinner with the customer; female buyers welcome high-level execs, but for their insights, not just ego, and may find it more valuable to meet directly with their day-to-day connection. Even body language is key: women nod to suggest interest and encourage more talk on a subject, while men nod to agree and move on with the conversation.

Across the industries we serve, more women are coming to the table, whether as the leader or serving as key members of the decision-making team. Everyone benefits from remaining cognizant of the gender biases we all hold, and to also help encourage our own teams to become more inclusive and collaborative. Bringing more thought leaders to the table can open up possibilities that a homogenous boardroom doesn't offer. It's certainly one of the attractive qualities about VIRGO; looking at our senior management team, it's a fairly equal gender split, and each of us brings experiences and strengths that yield a stronger whole.

Finally, I believe it's important to point out that leadership does not necessarily equal management. Sandberg noted in her book that, "Leadership roles are not the only way to have profound impact."

In my national volunteer work, we talk frequently about positioning ourselves and our organization as "Leading Women." This doesn't just mean a "president" title, but finding a way to be part of the conversation and work to have a positive effect on the outcome. In fact, the July-August Harvard Business Review discussed "influence" and how folks who are central to the network of an organization can affect change much more smoothly than those sitting in the corner office alone.

Ultimately, we are all facing business challenges. By bringing more smart folks and different perspectives into the room, we have the opportunity to affect change that can positively benefit our companies, our industries and our future.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

Best Laid Plans

This week we began our budgeting process for 2014.  This is always a daunting process for everyone involved as it is a combination of creating a strategy around the upcoming year and forecasting using knowledge of trends in our industry and a little bit of the crystal ball approach. This process is particularly interesting at a company like VIRGO since we serve such diverse industries and pride ourselves on being industry leaders and industry disrupters, (as Katherine Clements mentioned in the previous blog).  Our budgeting process is not as simple as increasing projections by X percentage over the previous year.  While we certainly consider the past year’s successes and challenges, the most fun part is the brainstorming of how to elevate our products for our audience and our customers. I love that we don’t simply go with what has worked in the past since it has always worked.  Certainly many of the standard products still serve a purpose but those are not the ideas that are going to take our company, audience and customers to the next level.

In fact, looking back at 2013 there have been over half a dozen new ideas that were created throughout the year to serve the needs of our audience and clients which were not even conceived of during the 2013 budgeting process. Things like:

  1. The Business Value Toolbox for the Channel Partners brand that provides resources to channel partners to help them generate more revenue.
  2. The Infection Control Today Digital Summit  created a way for our highly engaged audience that needs continuing education, but has difficulty getting away from their worksites, to connect with industry leaders on best practices in environmental hygiene.  In our ongoing mission to cut, paste and customize, this Digital Summit platform will be used across all four of our networks. 
  3. The Cloud Partners conference being held in Chicago September 11-13 that brings together leaders in the cloud industry to address the convergence of the IT and Telecom industries and the role that the cloud plays in both industries now and in the future.  
  4. The huge amount of interest surrounding on-demand video, DVD and standard format education for purchase on the Inside Self-Storage Store
  5. The creation and impending launch of the Food Tech Toolbox and FPD Boardroom Journal to meet the needs of our varied audience for our Food Product Design brand.
  6. The new launch of a completely new brand in October called AgileBizTech that will guide organizations through the essential ingredients of being an agile business.

This level of creativity, innovation and business agility is what allows VIRGO to identify voids in the marketplace and effectively address them in a timely manner.  So, the question continues to be, “how do we create budgets that are both realistic and account for the level of innovation and creativity that is both expected and organically happens within our company?”  From my perspective the answer is to do the best we can by considering what we know from historical data, incorporating the ideas that we have brainstormed, but not yet implemented, and leave a little extra room for the cool stuff that we haven’t even thought of yet.  Remember budgeting and forecasting is not an exact science, it is a tool to help the business create strategy and determine a general direction so that company leaders, employees, customers and the industries we serve can have a proverbial boat to get into and we all row in the same direction.  The existence of a budget doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to be innovative, creative and agile and change directions when the need arises, it just means that even though we have charted a course, we might release the Kracken- I mean, launch another awesome brand or product to really do some disrupting of the waters!

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

Katherine Clements - VP, Medical & Communications Networks

You’re either disrupting the market...or being disrupted

Here at VIRGO, we just wrapped up our annual national sales and editorial meeting. It’s a great opportunity to get everyone in the same room and spend some time diving deep into what makes VIRGO tick. I’m always energized by the types of conversations we have and impressed by the people I get to work with – whether on a daily basis or in our respective efforts for the company.

This year, a predominant theme that resonated at the meeting was a concept summed up by our CEO John Siefert. He mentioned that in media, you’re either disrupting the market... or being disrupted. While it is certainly true for our business, I know that it’s also true for our partners in all of the markets we serve. The concept of things staying "status quo" or slowing down when we get to the next pinnacle is antiquated. I truly believe that to stay relevant, companies and people must become comfortable with constant change and innovation. It is the only way to stay on top in a fast-paced environment where new technologies and ideas interrupt the fleeting moments when we may have thought we had things all sorted  out.

In an inaugural celebration, we also recognized three outstanding people in our organization who have embraced the evolving media landscape and are making waves in the roles they serve in here at VIRGO. The CEO Merit Award for Marketing went to Melissa Black. The CEO Merit Award for Content went to Kelly Pyrek and the Salesperson of the Year Award went to Dana Armitstead. As the VP of the Medical and Cloud & Communications Networks, I couldn’t be more proud that two of the three winners, Kelly and Dana, are both on the Medical team.

I can attest to the fact that these fine team members not only positively disrupt the marketplace on a regular basis, they do it in a way that inspires their colleagues within our organization to take similar action. As the Editor in Chief of Infection Control Today, Kelly consistently has her finger on the pulse of her readers, providing top-notch education in every piece of content she creates. In addition, Dana has found a way to become a trusted resource with each of her clients, providing recommendations for them on go-to-market strategies that consistently set them apart from their competition. I’m extremely proud of both Kelly and Dana and can't wait to see the "disrupting" they do in the year to come!

I would be remiss if I didn't round out the celebration of disruptive innovation with the flip side, which we also covered in our meeting. When you take risks, there are bound to be failures. However, this is the place where you see what you're made of – and whether you will make adjustments and come back swinging ... or throw in the towel. Without fail, it's in VIRGO's DNA to persevere unto success. It's what keeps us pioneering to new heights, especially when there's no road map to follow.

Katherine Clements
Group Publisher, Medical Network

By Troy Bix, Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

Content Delivery Heats Up With Video-Based Education

Man, it's hot up here in Flagstaff. We're supposed to break all-time heat records. Not to mention that I've spent most of my life in Phoenix, where it's even hotter. As I was making one of my several trips down to the Valley for a meeting, I had an epiphany! Our Inside Self-Storage World Expo 2014 needs a recharge! The epiphany happened while I was listening to a mix of music including old Waylon Jennings, classic Bob Segar and some Tom Petty, and keeping any eye out for my highway patrol buddies (not), who might try to nab me for speeding.

As I let my mind wander, I thought about ways we can make our tradeshow even better. Then I recalled movie days during my elementary school years. I remember how great it was to take a break from the regular schedule of textbooks and teachers and just sit back and be (somewhat) entertained and educated by a film. Really, it's just a different way to deliver content, but in a fun way. Then I thought, why can’t we deliver a handful of ISS Expo sessions the same way?

After speaking with my fantastic staff and tradeshow folks, we came up with several very cool documentary/video-based session ideas for our 2014 Expo. Editorial Director Teri Lanza had a great idea to find sponsors for an old-fashioned popcorn machine and refreshments for these unique sessions. That would really put some fun into them. We could even find a liquor shot sponsor as well to add more fun. I'm only kidding.

After our meeting, I took the idea to one of our biggest supporters, Bob Hayworth, owner of Baja Construction Co. Inc., which installs boat- and RV-storage carports. Coincidentally, Bob just celebrated the grand opening of the largest solar energy-supported boat and RV facility in the world last weekend. Bob owns the new facility along with several partners. It's really a one-of-a kind facility. It will generate so much energy from its solar components that electricity will be sold back to the city of Martinez, Calif.

Bob and I discussed collaborating on a video of the construction project, showing the development of this epic facility from start to finish. The video would air during a session at the ISS Expo and include time for questions and answers afterward.

The great thing is we can create these videos on several other topics such as facility grand openings, customer-service tutorials, auctions, audits and much more. Our team is discussing rolling out at least five video/documentary-produced sessions. They'll be a refreshing change up on how we deliver content at the ISS Expo. Last but not least is my favorite part of this idea—we get to punch our competitors in the mouth again.

Troy Bix
Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

Video Killed the Radio Star, Unless the Star Adapted

Nearly 32 years ago, MTV introduced itself to the world by playing “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. For me, it was a transformative moment. My world had changed. From that day forward I wanted my MTV. Well, at least until CDs and the internet and MP3 players and smart phones and Netflix and…well you get the point. Still, the message of that first music video made me think, as it surely did for every musician, songwriter, label, radio station manager and anyone else involved in the music business value chain. Was this “music television” thing really going to kill the radio star? Yes, if the radio star refused to evolve, adapt and transform. But, for those stars who embraced this new thing and leveraged it, what a powerful way to connect with their audience and shine even brighter.

This same scenario plays out all the time as new technologies and ideas come to the world of business, information and communication. Looking back at our transformation, I think I can relate to how those in the music business might have felt in the summer of 1981. And I am happy to report that we have evolved, adapted and transformed.

When I joined VIRGO in 1995, we made magazines, lots of them. We introduced some “fax updates” (remember those?), and eventually allowed our employees to have access to America Online…seriously. As we became more comfortable with technology, we started putting our magazines on the internet, literally just putting them on the internet, same content (a lot of magazine companies still do it that way today). In fact, we used to wait to put our content online until after the magazine had surely arrived to all subscribers because we did not want this internet thing to cause people to not read the magazine. Wow.

Fast forward to 2013, and it is a whole new world. We still make magazines, but within the context of much larger content distribution approach that includes all channels. Much like I wanted my MTV in 1981, the global audience in our markets (and every market) wants their content. And they want it on their time, in the format they prefer, and in context. Today, we connect with our audience through video, tweets, reports, digital issues, slide shows, image galleries, documentaries, digital summits, smart phones, tablets, content libraries, and many other platforms centered on giving our audience the information they want, in the format they want, when they want it.

It is an incredibly powerful approach that anyone involved in business (communications, marketing, sales, management, procurement, compliance…whatever) needs to understand. We’ve put together a new series of short videos that dive into these topics, and I encourage you to check them out. I also encourage you to reach out to us to talk about this stuff and what it means for your business.

As one radio star said long before MTV showed up, “The Times They Are a Changin” Actually, they have changed. And it’s a good thing.

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Sarah Waschler, Senior Director, Events

Channel Partners launches Online Store

This past month, VIRGO launched the official Channel Partners store, and we’re all pretty jazzed about it. This online store enables our customers in the telecom and IT channels to purchase on-demand content that is relevant to their business.

It’s modeled after a sister store, the Inside Self-Storage Store, which launched in 2012 and was nominated for Best Virtual Store by min’s Online Best of the Web Awards!

The Channel Partners store is full of business guides from the new Business Value Toolbox , past Channel Partners Expo Education DVDs, market reports and additional content that we are proud to share with our audience. The 2012 Channel Partners Compensation Survey, which is proving to be our best-seller, was the result of a polling of master agents, independent agents, subagents, brokers, dealers, VARs and systems integrators about how and how much they are paid.

In honor of the Channel Partners store launch, we are even offering some fantastic discounts to the upcoming Cloud Partners, a Channel Partners Event. For a limited time, our customers can purchase the Expo Only package for $100 or the Conference & Expo package for $200 directly through the Channel Partners store.

What is truly so exciting about the store launch it that is it touches upon many of VIRGO’s core tenants. Our first tenant, Content, outlines that everything we do starts with content for our audience. The premium content that is available in the Channel Partners store will be continuously updated as new, up-to-the minute information is available that is relevant to our Audience.  The Channel Partners store creates a dynamic User Experience for our Audience, providing value to their business that can’t be found anywhere else in the market.  These core tenants aren’t just fluff, or hype – they are the guiding principals in our day-to-day operations here at VIRGO. It is so exciting to see the Channel Partners store launch, a true representation of our core tentants, take off!

Sarah Waschler
Senior Director, Events

Jim Wagner - Global Account Director

Simple Versus Uncomplicated

Virgo has embraced content marketing to the point where company-wide more than 300 programs are active delivering millions of marketing impressions and tens of thousands of leads. I often hear that to do content marketing on this scale we must have NASA-esque technology and brainpower. Spend time with our content and marketing teams and you’ll find the latter is true. But while our content marketing programs aren’t simple the logic behind them is less complicated than one might believe.

Take the Content Library programs currently live on Food Product Design and Natural Products INSIDER. To help product developers and marketers research specific ingredients, the FPD and INSIDER content teams created topic- and ingredient-specific PDFs with new and archived content. The audience downloads as many of the PDFs as they need whenever they need them. Underwriters are acknowledged with their logo and company description. They also engage the audience with content of their own such as product brochures, videos and whitepapers. A typical Content Library program lasts 90 days, generates 50,000 marketing impressions and delivers 150 leads for slightly more than the cost of a full page four-color print ad.

Complicated? Not really.

On a broader spectrum Insights programs are year-long strategic branding and lead generation programs which deliver millions of marketing impressions and up to 1,000 leads. While the scope is larger than a Content Library program—Insights programs address the needs of a single market such as beverages, animal nutrition, cosmetics/personal care or omega-3s—the logic behind them is the same.

Consider R&D Insights. Recently renewed for a second year by our friends at Indena, R&D Insights hosts content for a C-level audience as well as R&D professionals in the trenches. The site features multiple content formats including Focus Reports, Analyst Videos, Thematic Digital Issues, Image Galleries, Impact Series Reports, a Resource Center with Indena’s content and a Video Documentary about global R&D which MinOnLine co-awarded first place honors for best Video Branded Show with Martha Stewart Living.

At its core, R&D Insights shares the same underpinnings as a Content Library program. R&D Insights’ content anatomy is structured to provide pertinent information for its audience in an always accessible, easy to use platform. Again, nothing terribly complicated about the concept.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing now constitutes 33% of a typical B2B budget, up from 26% in 2012. What’s more, 54% of all B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend in the next 12 months.

Juxtaposed against this increase is execution angst. Nearly two-thirds of B2B marketers reported that their biggest challenge was creating meaningful content. That’s not surprising: Few companies list content creation as a core competency.

Which may explain why content marketing seems difficult. Unless a marketing team is steeped in the culture of its industry or knows which experts can be counted on to create engaging content, attracting the target audience is problematic.

Our content teams live and breathe their industries. This supremely talented group with people such as Sandy Almendarez, Lynn Kuntz, and Alissa Marrapodi knows why our audience spends a week at SupplySide West or opens Food Product Design on an airplane or downloads R&D Insights Magazine to plunge into the world of R&D investment on a Friday night. When combined with the skills of the IT group, the marketing team, the art department and others content marketing becomes a tool to increase your revenue and meet your goals. We may not have a satellite in synchronous orbit—yet—but when it comes to our content marketing programs the results speak for themselves.

Jim Wagner
Global Account Director

Heather Granato, @heathergranato, VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Forging a Personal Connection

In an increasingly interconnected marketplace, we're all used to making new contacts from places around the globe. Technology is breaking down the barriers. Years ago, I could have interviewed company executives for years and not have met face to face—nor even known what they looked like. Today, we can Skype, teleconference, view profile photos on LinkedIn and other social media sites, and even share videos on hot topics. And this doesn't hold true only for outside industry contacts; it's increasingly the way business is being done.

That is, it's the way it's being done in some places. Marissa Mayer, the CEO at Yahoo, came under fire earlier this year when she ended the company's work-from-home policy. In late April, Fortune reported that at the Great Place to Work conference, Mayer defended her decision, but acknowledged failures in how it was communicated, noting the policy was simply not what was working for Yahoo, not designed to be "an industry narrative."

VIRGO has a quite progressive telecommuting policy, which has allowed us to work with talented professionals in many of our Networks who are geographically distant, or simply are self motivated and can drive their projects. On my own team, I have editors in DC, NYC, Michigan, Chicago and Denver, with others here in Phoenix, but operating almost solely from their home offices. It offers us East Coast to West Coast coverage, and also enables people to work at their most productive times of day. While I telecommute as well, it's useful for me to work in our corporate offices at least once a week: I get "face time" with sometimes hard-to-track down folks in other departments, I hit meetings where we want to do some active brainstorming or problem solving, and it's an opportunity for lunch or happy hour with people I really enjoy on a personal level.

Putting this into the broader context, technology has made it much easier for us to connect with the experts we need at companies, universities and associations all over the world. Contributing writers share their perspectives on European trends from the continent; experts in different fields can jump on a teleconference or send thoughtful email responses to inquiries; and associations based in DC have the opportunity to share with all of us the happenings on the Hill. But, again, there's something to be said for the in-person connection. In a face to face meeting, it's easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues—are they leaning in to hear more, or are their arms crossed with twitchy thumbs ready to check on the next meeting? Enjoying a cup of coffee (or something stronger) elicits some personal info—soymilk in that latte—that may bode well for longer-term relationships.

It's one of the reasons Events are such a key component of the different Networks at VIRGO. From the Inside Self Storage World Expo in the Business Solutions Network; to Channel Partners in the Communications Network; to SupplySide in my own Health & Nutrition Network—these industry-leading events offer a robust experience around content, networking and the expo hall. They are integrally connected to the brands our audience trusts, providing the in-person counterpart to the content we deliver in our position as a leading information distribution company. Not to mention, our Events team does such a fantastic, seamless job at the on-site organization, it makes the rest of us across the Network look really good.

If you missed any of our recent events, I hope you'll look at connecting in person at another one coming up. In the meantime, don't hesitate to reach out and get connected with us now. You can find most of us on Twitter, on LinkedIn and even just a phone call away. It's our goal to connect with you to ensure we deliver the content you need to make decisions that propel you toward business success.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

SupplySide MarketPlace

Our 2nd Annual SupplySide MarketPlace in New York City is this week and we couldn’t be more excited! There is much preparation for these events, with the culmination within sight. One of the most gratifying parts of event planning is the ability to see it through fruition. Staffers from throughout VIRGO play pivotal roles in the fulfillment of SupplySide MarketPlace. It truly takes an army – editorial, sales, IT, marketing, web development, art, traffic, marketing services, audience development, video, photography, executive team, accounting and programming. That does not include our vendor partners that also play such a vital role in the success of our events. Although I have been with VIRGO for many years, the excitement, anticipation and gratification of executing our SupplySide events never becomes mundane.

The past three years have particularly exciting for a couple of reasons:

  • Technology – Advances in technology have greatly impacted how we do event business. It has changed our event marketing strategy, attendee registration, exhibitor lead gen, mobile app launches, reinvented sponsorship/underwriting opportunities, web site approaches and social media development, just to name a few. Technology advances have lead us to a stronger content/education program at our events.
  • Company Direction – VIRGO was a classic B2B publishing company for two decades. As we all know, we quickly needed to reinvent ourselves to remain relevant in the marketplace. We are now an information distribution company. Our mission is to help business professionals break through the hype, ambiguity and information deluge they experience, by offering trustworthy guidance on the decisions they need to make—be that early in their decision-making process, whilst making a purchase decision, or following the decision when a product, service or ingredient is being used.

We also have some great new offerings at SupplySide MarketPlace 2013.

The SupplySide Demo Center, located in the middle of aisle #200 on the expo hall floor, has manufacturing, packaging, and processing equipment for you to see and experience. It's an enhancement to the already dynamic expo hall experience, and extends that through to the manufacturing end.

Our attendees also have the opportunity to participate in Buyer/Seller Luncheons. These events focus on key topics and markets, and will involve an intimate group of thought leaders from companies focused on each respective area. Taking place during lunch time on the first day of the SupplySide MarketPlace Expo Hall, the Buyer/Seller Luncheons are designed to facilitate the buyer/seller connection, delivering a moderated dialogue around the most important subjects in the industry.

Finally, we've taken the SupplySide Why experience, originally launched last fall at SupplySide West, and will present the inaugural East Coast version this year. From 11 am to 3 pm each day of the Expo Hall, the SupplySide Why stage will feature brief, dynamic talks from thought leaders focused on the top innovations, issues and ideas. No PowerPoints, no podiums and no classroom style seating. Just the most interesting people and organizations impacting your business explaining WHY you should pay attention to what they are doing. Come and go as you please, watch one of the talks or all of them. In addition to the live audience at the event, the SupplySide Why talks will be streamed live on the SupplySide website to the global SupplySide audience. This means that you can view a talk on your wifi connected mobile device, too.

SupplySide MarketPlace 2013 attendees represent 38 countries and 45 of the U.S. states. And 62 percent of our attendees are either primary or key decision makers! SupplySide MarketPlace definitely connects buyers and sellers!

See you in a couple days!!

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

Don’t Wait to Save For Your Future

When I was just a little girl my mother would warn me about the likely collapse of social security and how pensions are becoming non-existent – pretty scary stuff! She would inform me that even if social security survives that it simply won’t be enough money for me to support myself. She would tell me that I have to “pay myself first” in order to ensure that I have enough saved and invested for my future. It is ironic that we are still having the same conversation 30 years later over Easter brunch last weekend. To be fair it is in her blood, she is an accountant after all.

Paying yourself first is just another way of investing in your future. Let’s face it, most of us are not going to inherit massive amounts money or win the lottery, so we will have to be responsible for our own retirement nest egg. One of the easiest ways to invest in your future is to participate in your company’s 401K plan. 401K plans make it easy for employees to allocate pre-tax dollars into investment options through convenient payroll deductions. Investing via payroll deductions ensures that our intention to save is actually realized since the dollars are allocated prior to our check hitting the bank. I don’t know about you, but I think it is much less likely that I will write a check or transfer funds to investments out my bank account then if it comes directly out of my paycheck before it even reaches my bank account.

So now you might be saying to yourself, I would really like to participate in my 401K but I am living paycheck to paycheck right now and I don’t see how I can make it work. Well, I found some good advice in this article on Investopedia, titled 401(k)Planning: How much Should You Be Saving?. The article states that:

Even small contributions and returns can generate substantial savings over the long haul. Imagine a single $5,000 contribution made at age 20. Even if no other contributions were ever made, that initial $5,000 would be worth nearly $160,000 at age 65, assuming an average 8% annual return. If the same investor waits until age 40 to make the single $5,000 contribution, its value will be less than $35,000 when he or she reaches age 65. The size and return of the contributions can be less important than starting early and allowing the magic of compounding to work in to the investor's advantage.

Using the above example, if the person who made a one-time contribution of $5,000 at age 20 decided to make the same annual contribution until retirement, he or she would have amassed more than $2.2 million at age 65. If the person who waited until age 40 to start making contributions had added $5,000 each year until retirement, he or she would have nearly $430,000 in retirement savings. Time and regular contributions are the most important elements of building a successful retirement savings account.

So, maybe you don’t have $5,000 hanging around to invest, consider starting with 3% of your salary. Run the numbers using a paycheck calculator. I think you will find that the difference in your take home pay if you defer just 3% versus 0% could be the cost of skipping a Starbucks coffee a few times per week. This is because the 3% investment deferral will reduce your taxable income. VIRGO is committed to partnering with our employees to help make investing in their future as easy as possible. It is our goal to provide our employees with the opportunity and educational resources necessary for our employees to built their retirement nest eggs. Now is the time to start so that you can benefit from regular contributions and having time on your side! Pay yourself first!

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

Kelly Ridley - Executive Vice President, CFO

What is Your Type?

Our management team recently completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment questionnaire. This questionnaire is designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. I have personally found this assessment to be very accurate. I have completed the questionnaire three times over the span of my career and am still the same type as I was when I was 22 years old. When I read the write-up on my type, I wonder how an assessment can know me that well.

MBTI identifies 16 different patterns of action based on four pairs of characteristics. You end up with a 4 letter type that is based on the following:

Extraversion vs. Introversion: The person who selects people as a source of energy usually tends toward extraversion while the person who chooses solitude to gain energy probably tends towards introversion. Extraversion is characterized by E and introversion by I.

Intuition vs. Sensation: Someone who has a preference for sensation probably describes himself or herself as practical and factual, S. Someone who has a natural preference for intuition probably would be described as innovative and facile with ideas, N.

Thinking vs. Feeling: Those who choose the logical basis of choice are called Thinkers, T, and those who choose the personal basis are Feelers, F.

Judging vs. Perceiving: Those who prefer closure over open options are judging types, J, while those who prefer to keep things open as they consider additional options are perceivers, P.

A real benefit to knowing your co-workers' types is to gain insight into how they experience the world. You might find yourself wondering, Why doesn't he/she understand my solution? Why doesn’t he/she think like I do? Why can't he/she make a quick decision?

When you read the information about one’s MBTI, you start to understand where your co-workers might be coming from and how you might approach a situation in a different way that suits their type. It allows for empathy. Put yourself in your co-worker’s shoes, so you can better understand where they are coming from.

Much like they say opposites attract, having a variety of personality types makes for a stronger team to solve business problems. And when you understand different personality types, it makes for an even stronger team. The goal is to get everyone to improve and embrace different forms of communication, which often requires some people to act outside their comfort zone. The link below gives 10 tips on team work using the MBTI. See what you think.

The MBTI is not only useful for business but also in your personal life. I think I am going to ask my husband to take the assessment as I am almost certain we are opposites. But, hey it has worked for us for almost 30 years. Maybe if I read up on his type, I can become more empathetic to his thought processes that I do not agree with ☺.

Check out this link for the Myers-Briggs Dating Field Guide:

At VIRGO, we work really well together in teams. MBTI might just be another tool to use for enhancing our teamwork.

Kelly Ridley
Executive Vice President, CFO

Katherine Clements - VP, Medical & Communications Networks

Infection Control Today Launches Digital Summit

As Jose Copado explained in his blog, video is becoming increasingly important to engage users online. As VIRGO continues to meet that need for our audiences, Infection Control Today is proud to announce the launch of its first Digital Summit, "Making the Business Case for Infection Prevention."

Digital Summits are optimized, video-based experiences in online education, geared toward professionals who are looking for a deep-dive to assist them in making effective purchasing decisions. After analyzing site-traffic trends, the ICT team realized a good portion of its audience was searching for information about making the business case. With thousands of page views, articles and slide shows on this subject continue to top the list in terms of audience engagement – making the content focus for the first Digital Summit a natural decision.

ICT is proud to have some of the best and brightest professionals in the field leading education seminars and live, interactive Q&A sessions for the audience. Thomas Diller, MD, MMM, CPE; Connie Steed, MSN, RN,CIC; Patricia Stone, PhD, FAAN; Elaine Crittenton, RN; and Katherine Steele, RN; will be sharing their expertise through video and live Q&A.

In addition, leading suppliers in infection prevention have underwritten the Digital Summit. Truven, Prezio and Xenex will have relevant content available for download in the Digital Summit rounding out a truly comprehensive approach to discussing and defining the issues around making the business case for infection prevention.

I hope you’ll join us on April 17 for this innovative event. Registration opens March 22, 2013.

Katherine Clements
Group Publisher, Medical Network

José Copado - Chief Developer

The View from Inside Our Window: Video

How do you increase customer engagement and ad revenue on your site? By adding video. Video is one of the most effective ways to add customer engagement on your site. Customers that see video on your home page become more connected to the site and they increasingly seek other videos, increasing engagement.

We, at VIRGO, have recently launched the Business Value Toolbox website. Although we had videos on other sites before, this one relies a lot more on video than the other ones. The Business Value Toolbox has, front and center on the home page, a video player that helps tell the user, that the site has videos and that they can expect videos on the rest of the pages. Complementing the video on the home page are a set of weekly news program videos called News Desk and a set of business technology overviews called Video Tools.

Another benefit of adding videos to our sites is the potential revenue that can be obtained by adding ads to videos. In January, comScore released its online video ranking data for the month of December 2012. In it, you can see that online video ad views associated with streaming totaled 11.3 billion. Most of the ads being displayed follow a "Forced View" model. In this model, users are forced to watch a commercial before seeing the video.

Video is a great way to add customer engament and increase ad revenue by adding ads to videos. Stay tuned for some really cool developments at VIRGO in the video ad space.

José Copado
Chief Developer

Danielle Dunlap, Vice President, Marketing Services

For Your Consideration…

Coming on the heels of this year’s Academy Awards is another awards ceremony that’s just as sought after in the consumer and b2b media world as that distinguished golden gentleman – min’s Best of the Web awards! We are very pleased and excited that VIRGO has the great fortune of being nominated for three awards this year. Looking across the field of nominees, it’s quite an honor to be listed alongside all of these names and know that we couldn’t have done it without the amazing energy, spirit and collective know-how of our teams of people responsible for the nominations in the categories listed below.

Premium Content

Video: Magazine Branded Show

  • Bazaar - The Look
  • Condé Nast - Fashion Fund
  • Cygnus Business Media - MTtv Mass Transit Network
  • Marie Claire - Fashion Mission
  • Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia - Everyday Food with Sarah Carey
  • Slate Magazine - Polical Kombat
  • Sports Illustrated - SI Underdogs
  • VIRGO Publishing - SupplySide R&D Insights Documentary

Virtual Store

The statement that, ‘It takes a village’ couldn’t be truer in the case of each of these programs we’ve implemented over the last year, so I’d like to give a shout out to the Networks responsible – Health & Nutrition & Business Solutions as well as the support departments that helped design, build and promote, not just the programs linked above, but all of our programs across our many brands – Marketing, Marketing Services, Creative and Web. 

Best of luck to all of the nominees (though I think everyone knows who I’m rooting for in the end)!

Danielle Dunlap
Vice President, Marketing Services

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

A View From the Audience: "Treat us Like People, Not Pieces of Meat (or Tofu)"

Are you always trying to figure out how to get more unwanted email in your in-box? Are you really happy when you think you are about to get a valuable piece of information but it turns out to be an advertisement or purely commercial message? Do you prefer websites that have so many blinking, flashing messages from people trying to sell you stuff that you can't focus on the information you went there to find? Do you want to be treated like a piece of meat in a database rather than as a unique individual with specific needs? Take your time.

I ask these questions because they help to demonstrate the importance of what we call the User Experience. Our audience of decision makers around the globe is not looking to get more SPAM, to be tricked into downloading an ad presented as objective content, or to use a website that has dozens of blinking distractions begging for attention. They don't want to be "blasted" with email. It’s really logical, and this focus on delivering the right User Experience is one of the 5 tenets of our business. Check these facts out:

That's right. Less email, more audience. This is not a coincidence, and it is not as simple as shutting down your email blasting and watching your site traffic magically grow. That said, this is still really simple, logical stuff.

I'll focus on our SupplySide audience as an example. This audience consist of people in the global food, beverage, dietary supplement, cosmetic, personal care, animal nutrition, and pharma industries. This includes large and small companies, and people in all fields from executive management to R&D to marketing to QA/QC to supply chain to compliance. They are looking for a wide range of information to help them make decisions and be successful, and they want this information on their time and in the format they prefer. This can include at live events like the SupplySide West and SupplySide MarketPlace shows, on the web, on smart phones, and of course in print. We focus on how to harness the strengths of each of these platforms to deliver content to these people and give them the User Experience they want. Take any topic of interest to people in our audience, could be the latest on energy drinks, how to reduce sodium in a product and keep the taste profile, where to find suppliers of specific ingredient solutions, the market for Omega 3s in Japan, or countless other subject that people want to learn about. We then create content on each topic in multiple formats because to suit each individual’s preferences. For any of the topics above, you might see us tweet, blog, create a Report or Digital Issue, create a short video, run an article in our magazine (or an executive summary of a Report), post a discussion on LinkedIn, have a seminar or workshop at SupplySide West, create a downloadable Buyer's Guidebook, develop a long form documentary film, introduce an entire website, etc. By providing our audience (your customers) with the content they want, in the formats they want, on their time, we have been able to drive incredible growth of our global audience. Not by renting lists, sending email blasts, or giving away iPads and gift cards, but by providing a truly valuable resource for these people.

As a result of this logical approach, our SupplySide audience now looks like this:

As you consider how to take advantage of content marketing, lead generation, audience development, social media marketing, etc, remember this: Don't treat the audience like a piece of meat. And similarly, don't invest in marketing programs that do.

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

SupplySide West vs. SupplySide MarketPlace

Many trade shows, across many vertical and horizontal markets, offer two annual expos. Each expo is normally separated geographically, East coast/West coast, north/south, or international/domestic. Both annual shows offer the same content and business opportunities. Other than location, the experience is the equal. You notice the same speakers, content offerings, networking opportunities, even the same marketing messaging. You probably choose one of the events to attend annually.

I suspect you think SupplySide's Expos, offered semi-annually, are identical events. Since we host both events annually in Las Vegas and N.Y.C., you believe the only difference is location. It just boils down to whether you prefer a desert or metropolitan destination.

I am here to tell you there is a BIG difference, a really BIG one! It’s like comparing Disneyland to Cirque du Soleil. Disneyland offers a wide variety of events, shows, rides, restaurants, parks, gifts, registration packages, hotels and a host of other inclusions; every day is different. Cirque du Soleil is specific; it’s focused. Anyone who attends a Cirque show has a very specific set of expectations. There will be costumes, acrobatics, music without many words, lots of oohs and aahs! They are not everything to everyone but a focused niche. SupplySide West is Disneyland and SupplySide MarketPlace is Cirque du Soleil.

Let's begin with SupplySide West; it is the industry's gathering place. As the industry’s largest event, there is so much happening, it's difficult to keep track of, such as:

  1. Concurrent Education Program
  2. Workshops (GMP training, Marketing Insights Summit)
  3. Post-Cons, Featured Speaker, FDA Enforcement Update
  4. SupplySide Why... Stage
  5. Official Show Networking Receptions ( Editor's Choice Awards Reception)
  6. Association Annual Meetings
  7. Off-site industry events
  8. Golf Tournaments
  9. Vitamin Angels' Charity Poker Game
  10. Industry's largest expo hall
  11. SupplySide Fun Run
    And much more!

Everyone gathers at SupplySide West to catch up with the industry; to source new ingredients; to launch new ingredients; to attend industry events; to network with colleagues and peers; to stay in touch with current market trends; to be educated. It encapsulates the entire dietary supplement, food, beverage, personal care, cosmetic and animal nutrition supply chain industry all in one place over five days.

On the other hand, SupplySide MarketPlace is laser focused; it is where buyers and sellers connect. It's that simple! Everything we do directly and indirectly at SupplySide MarketPlace is strategically placed to enhance that connection. New York City is a completely different destination than Las Vegas and Jacob Javits Center is a completely different convention center than the Venetian & Sands Expo. We recognize this and tailored our approach to the expo with location in mind. While we are offering a limited education component at SupplySide MarketPlace, this content component is not a robust concurrent education program but specific industry training offerings, working together with industry training experts, like NSF and Smart Short Courses, designed to augment the business experience. SupplySide MarketPlace is focused on the expo hall. Our entire goal is to bring highly engaged buyers to suppliers for business discussions in the marketplace.

YES, we do host two semi-annual SupplySide events; NO, they are not the same event.

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Heather Granato, @heathergranato, VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

There Is No 'I' in Team ... Or Is There?

It seems a universal truth that that there is no "I' in team, that a group is only as strong as its weakest link and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps that is the case, but I'd argue the best teams help identify the unique value of each individual, and also help the team members find the best way to work together toward success.

I'm a huge fan of personality assessments, and find them fascinating to help understand how others might approach a situation, and how we can work together. Consider Myers-Briggs, possibly the best known in this area. The Myers & Briggs Foundation notes that all types are equal, so there is no "best" type; it's about understanding and appreciating the differences. I'm an INTJ—more internal focused, interpreting information and adding meaning, looking at logic in making decisions, and then getting things decided and moving on. And while introversion may have a negative connotation to some, I have embraced it as I have found ways to cultivate my energy stores through yoga or quiet reflection. But knowing how to interact with others who make decisions differently, who focus on the outside world and constantly assess options helps me be a more efficient manager, a better writer and a stronger friend.

When I started in the natural products industry, I encountered Ayurveda, one of the oldest of healing sciences, which takes a holistic approach to health. Each person has a unique combination of the energetic types known as doshas—vata, pitta and kapha—with the goal of finding balance. It was no surprise to my editorial team that I have lots of pitta—hot energy, quick thinking, impatient. But knowing how others on the team functioned, we could find a great balance in our group.

Since that point, I've done a great deal of volunteering and reading on various types of managers, aiming to become more versed in supporting others' goals, whether individuals or groups. And the personality assessments continue to not surprise others. In the DiSC profile, I scored high on the "D" for Dominance/Drive—a personality type often described as ambitious, strong willed and determined; fortunately, my counterpart in my volunteer work is an "i" for Influence, a personality more warm, trusting and optimistic. It's a great balance. Similarly, in the True Colors assessment, out of a group of 20 women, I was the only "Green" (the logical one), focused on mind over emotion and approaching challenges with a composed demeanor.

How does that tie in with VIRGO? We're an information distribution company, delivering critical information to help businesses and individuals in their decision-making process. But more than that, we're a group of individuals with our own talents, skills and personalities. We bring our strengths to the table with the goal of helping our audience on a journey that will bring them success. It's a deadline-driven business, and one that has a bottom line, and in order for us to find success, we have to find the best way to work on our own, in small groups and as a company overall.

At the end of the day, if it's the right synergy, the years pass almost without noticing. My 15-year anniversary is this summer; my best friend has been at VIRGO for almost 25 years. The leaders of our Networks—Teri Lanza and Troy Bix in Business Solutions; Khali Henderson in Communications; Kelly Pyrek and Katherine Clements in Medical; and Jon Benninger at the head of Health & Nutrition—bring unparalleled expertise in their industries. Their positions are complemented by the leaders in Events (Dana Hicks), Marketing Services (Danielle Dunlap), Development (Jose Copado), and IT (John Lybarger), to name but a few. Is it always rainbows and chocolate? Of course not. But it's characterized by honest communication and mutual respect, even for those who end up leaving to pursue other paths.

Ultimately, it is the synergy of unique individuals bringing their experiences and talents to the table that yields great success. Bringing the "I" to that team adds value, and personality that cannot be ignored. As a movie enthusiast, I couldn't close without a shout out to one of the best looks at how individuals can find common ground and celebrate their differences. What we take away from "The Breakfast Club" is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Understanding how we can work together, appreciating our differences, and moving toward a common goal—it's a recipe for success.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Sarah Waschler, Senior Director, Events

The New Normal

The other day, my 4-year-old daughter asked me why dinosaurs became extinct. After a not-so-brief pause while I thought back to middle school Science class, I explained to her that dinosaurs no longer roam this planet because they failed to adapt to their new environment. Climate change, dwindling food sources ...  these and other factors contributed to the decline of these magnificent beasts simply because they couldn’t adapt to the new normal.

The communications industry also is facing a new normal: traditional telecom agents are no longer able to sell just POTS and T1 lines and call it a day. Their counterparts on the IT side having begun selling these same services in addition to their traditional IT portfolio.  The emphasis now needs to be on providing business value to the customer – without this value, what is to stop a long-standing customer from switching to a more well-rounded partner? Traditional agents are being forced to adapt to this new competitive landscape, or face the music that they may no longer be relevant. How many years before the traditional telecom agent becomes extinct?

Here at Channel Partners, we understand that innovation and focusing on your customer is just as important as the numbers on your sales sheets. In fact, we’ve developed an awards program that celebrates partners who create business value for their customers through converged telecom and IT solutions. The Channel Partners 360 Awards program will debut at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo at the Channel Partners 360 Awards Gala.  If you’re at the event, help us raise a glass as we celebrate true innovation in the channel.

Sarah Waschler
Senior Director, Events

Jim Wagner - Global Account Director

Why Food Safety Issues Will Dominate in 2013

Of all the challenges the food industry faces in 2013, food safety is posed to emerge as job one. FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg recently made it clear that the Agency’s highest priority was bolstering safety of an “increasingly complex and global food supply.” And she described the breadth and scope of two new regulations proposed on January 4th as nothing less than “farm to fork.” Say what you will about the Commissioner, but after scanning the 1,227 pages of “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption” and “Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food” no one can accuse her of hyperbole.

Food and beverage companies never have taken safety lightly. What is different now is the FDA has the onus mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act to shift emphasis toward greater prevention. Manufacturers will be required to maintain food safety plans, develop and perform hazard analysis, install controls to mitigate hazards, monitor these controls, document that they work and maintain an extensive database documenting all of these actions for when FDA inspectors come to call.

Such a shift requires innovation. Barbara Levin, Senior VP of SafetyChain Software, talks about real-time data from suppliers, field inspectors dock & lab technicians and results from quality control testing equipment being entered directly into a company’s secure cloud and compared automatically to regulatory and customer specifications. Compliance can be enforced quickly when variances occur.

It’s that kind of game change that will characterize food safety this year. We see the same level of interest impacting our magazine, trade show and online audiences. Food Product Design’s food safety content consistently is in the Top Trending stories on Its Food Safety Alert enewsletter has close to 3,800 opens every week as readers take in trends, news and regulatory developments.

To meet increasing demand for food safety information, we are developing Food Safety Insights along the same lines as R&D Insights, Beverage Insights, Omega-3 Insights and Cosmetics Insights. These brand extension web sites offer premium content calendared around each topic and mapped to the needs of their specific audience. Each has remarkable audience engagement, a trend we expect to continue with Food Safety Insights, particularly as the food safety community realizes how much innovation exists to cope with the reality of compliance in a complex and changing global food supply. Stayed tuned.. There is much more on the way in 2013!

Jim Wagner
Global Account Director

John Siefert • CEO

Beyond Transformation

When I first started at VIRGO in September of 2010, the company was nearly 25 years old, had built an incredible print and tradeshow business, and was just starting to build web-based programming. Over the last two and a half years, we have been transitioning and transforming the company to compete and grow in today's market—a market that demands ROI, integrated web/print/event programming, content marketing, nurtured leads, branding, unique event presence and more.

This has seen a number of shifts and pivots for the company:

  1. The launch of a marketing services group—featuring program managers, production, art/design all led by Danielle Dunlap, VP of Marketing Services.
  2. Creation of tiered programming and products for our customers that map to the information needs of our audiences, CPM banners around online news content, and lead generation via registration-based content through our reports, content libraries, immersion centers and custom programs.
  3. The launch of brand extension web sites like SupplySide R&D Insights, where we have broken all records in traffic and site registration while delivering a pure play content marketing platform underwritten by Indena, led by recently promoted VP of Content for the Health & Nutrition Network, Heather Granato.
  4. Leveraging the web platform via video-based documentary content led by Scott Donaldson, VIRGO TV Producer, who has pioneered our documentary approach with a trip to Milan, Italy, to capture the story behind how natural ingredients go from the fields to the shelf.
  5. The creation of News Desk and Analyst Desk video programming on our SupplySide Beverage Insights destination site—weekly 2- to 3-minute news features that outline the top issues affecting the beverage industry, and 3- to 5-minute deep dives into the key categories driving beverage success, respectively.
  6. On-demand education content through our "Stores" via the Inside Self Storage and SupplySide brands—available for purchase in on-demand video, DVD, PDF and audio formats, we have organized a wealth of education and analysis from industry experts across the markets we serve. With customers in more than 30 countries for the SupplySide Store, and surging revenue growth from owners, operators and investors in the self storage industry, our "pay wall" strategy for content is setting a new bar in the media industry.
  7. Recreating our data and lead generation process and systems—led by Jose Copado, VP and Chief Developer, and Dave Sorenson, DBA, VIRGO has streamlined the process of data management to lead gen delivery for our customers.
  8. Optimization of our content for web delivery in the form of slide shows, galleries, news reports, analysis, video and more to enable double-digit traffic growth across all of our major brands in the Health & Nutrition, Medical, Communications and Self Storage spaces.
  9. Prioritizing the right talent and resources in the company on the products, events and brands that need their focus based on growth potential—for example, Dana Hicks in the SVP role overseeing Events for the company but focusing the majority of his efforts on the SupplySide branded events (SupplySide West and SupplySide MarketPlace). And Katherine Clements leveraging her incredible success with our Medical Network to take a lead role in our Communications Network as well, as she becomes the VP and leader of both networks.
  10. Optimizing our event websites to "tell the story" for attendees who are looking to attend—and then ensuring that experience described on the site comes to life through our education programming, tradeshow floor, networking and more via our events management team.

Even though business needs to be in a constant state of evolution to compete in today’s global economy, major transformations are tough to manage and adapt to—however, VIRGO has managed through this process, and we have emerged executing on the next growth phase for the company. Realistically, we have seen some people could not handle this transformation, and they are no longer at the company—however, I could not be more pleased with the great majority of our employees who not only adapted to these shifts, but embraced them, and drove them.

As we go beyond our transformation and focus on execution in 2013, stay tuned to see how far we take this business...

John Siefert

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

VIRGO’s Culture Crew

One of VIRGO's Five Core Tenants is Brand. VIRGO has done a good job of building and supporting our external brands, but one of our goals for 2013 is to build our internal or employer brand. Recognizing that our products and services may be duplicated, it is our people that cannot be replicated - our organizational culture is our competitive advantage. When I speak to our employees about why they like working at VIRGO, the number one response I receive is "the people". This means that we have done a good job of recruiting, selecting and retaining people that fit well in our organizational culture. But it is time to take VIRGO from good to great! It is our goal to make VIRGO a Best Company to Work For in 2013!

So how are we going to do that you might ask? By creating a team of employees whose focus is on identifying, organizing, executing and promoting activities and events that focus on strengthening and developing the VIRGO organizational culture. I will refer to the group as the Culture Crew but the name is up for discussion.

The crew will consist of 8-12 members that represent the diversity of our workplace and are selected from a variety of departments and employee levels. The crew members will serve a one year term and focus on identifying three activities or events that will be scheduled for each quarter of the year. It will be the crew member’s responsibility to plan, organize, promote and run each activity or event. The goal will be to schedule one activity in each of the three areas: Philanthropic, Wellness, and Employee Appreciation/Team Building.

We look forward to providing our employees with more opportunities to get involved with our communities, wellness initiatives, and to connect with other employees outside of our immediate business units.

Here’s to looking forward to an amazing 2013!

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

Kelly Ridley - Executive Vice President, CFO


When I go to seminars, conferences and training sessions and do reading on various business-related topics, I always take away at least a tidbit of very useful information that can challenge me to perform my job better or think of something in a different way.

I wanted to share some of my latest 'take-aways'.

At the Ernst & Young Alumni Annual Conference this fall, there was a Senior Economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis that gave the Keynote Address on America's Economic Future. He was describing how our healthcare plans have worked historically where we typically have small co-pays and premiums that come out of each of our paychecks and said that basically it makes us feel like we have a blank check to spend when we seek healthcare. I thought about it and decided he was right. Whenever one of my daughters had the slightest fever, cough or sore throat growing up, I would whisk them off to the doctor as soon as I could. I did not wait a couple of days to see if the symptoms went away on their own. I did not ask what the total cost of the visit was. I did not 'shop' for lower prices. This practice has allowed doctors/hospitals, etc. to charge our insurance companies exorbitantly high costs with no obstacles. The economist said the only way to correct the run-away healthcare prices is to have the consumers realize and be affected by the costs. The latest buzz phrase addressing this issue is the 'consumerization of healthcare'. The concept made a lot of sense to me as I thought about my personal healthcare spending.

At the Women's Leadership Forum, Charlotte Beers was a speaker. She was the former Under Secretary of State and the first female vice-president at the JWT advertising firm, then CEO of Tatham-Laird & Kudner until 1992 and finally CEO of Ogilvy & Mather until 1996. Think Mad Men, a female Don Draper, and she had lots of stories. One of the significant pieces of advice she gave the leaders in the room was to be authentic, be true to your authentic self. 'Do not let others tell you who you are. Keep your own scorecard, and it has to include the good, the bad and the ugly.' I have thought a lot about these things since that forum.

During my leisurely business reading, I came across the following in Build, which I copied, cut-out and posted in my office (I almost never cut-out anything and post it in my office) to continually remind myself of these 3 tips:

How Do You Know You've Become a True Leader?
3 tips from Ping Fu, cofounder and CEO of Geomagic

  1. You don’t try to be right; you try to be clear.
  2. You try not to have the last word.
  3. You no longer try to show that it was your idea. You empower other people to own the idea.

When I was reading CFO magazine, I came across an article about what you should do before you sign a cloud contract. Oh, never mind this take-away, it is not very exciting, but I ripped out the article and have it on my desk and will read it again before I sign a cloud contract.

These 'take-aways' help me improve as a professional and a person. Even if sometimes I do not think I will get much from a certain seminar or online course, I am always surprised by a little 'take-away'.

Kelly Ridley
Executive Vice President, CFO

By Troy Bix, Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

Getting Better, Pulling the Rope Together

Where the heck did 2012 go? My dad always told me, "The older you get, the faster time flies." Man was he right! It seems like just yesterday I was raising my kids and the self-storage industry was experiencing its first surge in development. All of a sudden, I have a third grandchild (Wow! What a gift!), and the industry is maturing and evolving with third-generation facility operators. As we head toward the end of 2012, it’s natural to reflect on the year behind us and look to the future.

My personal goal for the new year is to be a better manager and leader for the VIRGO Business Solutions Network. We need to be the best at informing and educating our readership in the self-storage and door-dealership industries, so I'm going to take a hard look at how I can be stronger at what I do. I don’t have all the answers right now, but self-improvement is top of mind for me, and I believe success there will lead to a prosperous 2013.

One thing I can do next year is be a better listener to my professional colleagues. Instead of coming up with answers and ideas prematurely, I'm going to take a few extra minutes, keep my mouth shut, and listen a little bit longer. We're working hard to create meaningful content for our brands, including magazines, Web products and a killer self-storage tradeshow, which is in April. It's important that we listen to the folks in the trenches so our content development anticipates the needs of those we serve and who support us.

The self-storage and door industries have had better days when you compare the current markets to past years, but there’s now a fresh energy and hope. I guarantee that our brands will be a big part of that renewed optimism.

With all our teammates pulling the rope together in the same direction, we'll get it done and do it well. I couldn’t work with a better bunch of people, and for that, I'm grateful. The industries we represent need us more than ever, and we need them just as much. Time won't wait for us, so let's deliver the best information and education possible, and then build on that momentum each year.

I'm thankful for where we've been, but I'm looking forward to the new things I'm going to learn about myself and my industry colleagues in the months ahead!

Troy Bix
Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

The Show Does Go On

This famous show business phrase “the show must go on” is generally uttered when circumstances impede one’s ability to produce a “show” yet one overcomes. For those impacted by Hurricane Sandy who still made the trip to SupplySide West to conduct their business, this phrase was certainly applicable. I applaud and thank each of you for your dedication and perseverance. I’d also like to suggest that this phrase has more relevance than ever right now, though not due to its traditional meaning. In this day of always on, always connected, global-social-local communication, the show really must go on…long after the physical “show” comes to an end. Taken this way, the phrase is really more of a statement of fact, akin to “the show does go on.”

This perspective guides our thinking here at VIRGO, and comes to life in how we engage with our SupplySide audience during the 350+ days of the year when an in-person “show” is not taking place. Consider these facts:

We’ve built our entire SupplySide brand strategy around this fact, that the show goes on. Beyond the capture and leverage of the content in videos and other formats, we’ve also given a lot of thought to this core principle of “going on” and what that means for our audience. How can we serve the individuals who make up this audience by empowering them to Explore, Discover, Innovate and Market every single day? This question has led to several innovations that we have introduced to the market. For example, we now have more than 25,000 individuals who have become registered members of our websites in order to access our premium content. These are decision makers from throughout the global food, beverage, dietary supplement, cosmetic, personal care, pharma, and animal nutrition markets. By providing the content and resources that these individuals use to Explore, Discover, Innovate and Market, SupplySide is now an always-on resource for our audience. Examples of this extension of the SupplySide brand include:

I want emphasize again that the entire basis of this is our focus on our audience. By staying true to our brand promise to provide the content that our audience wants in the form that they want it when they want it, we have doubled our website traffic, created 25,000+ registered website members who are downloading our premium content, and created unprecedented content marketing opportunities for our clients. If you are curious to learn more about our perspective on this and how you can apply to our business what we have learned, developed and implemented, drop me a line (or a text, or a tweet, or a phone call).

Jon Benninger
Office: 480-990-1101 ext 1108
Mobile: 602-421-6079
Twitter: @jonbenninger

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

SupplySide West Is Moments Away!

By the time this blog posts, I will have been at the Palazzo Resort & Sands Expo for three days and will need to stay an additional four days; it's a full week on-site commitment. Seven days is a long time in Las Vegas! It’s even longer when you literally become isolated within the mini city of the Venetian-Venezia-Palazzo Resorts-Sands Expo Center. You have everything you need and rarely get out for fresh air!

Each year as SupplySide West continues to grow exponentially, I am thoroughly impressed by the associates of VIRGO who make this show come to life. I mentioned in my last blog that this expo will be 400-percent larger than when I began working on the SupplySide brand 12 years ago and that you can fit nine football fields in our expo hall. These numbers are staggering and the entire associate body of VIRGO makes this happen with so much enthusiasm and pride. SupplySide West is a proud moment for our company and even prouder for the associates!

It's an exciting transitional time for the SupplySide brand, so I am particularly excited about the expo. As our business model continues to evolve, SupplySide West has more innovations, technological advances and new ideas than ever before. Whether you are going to the event or not, you can be a part of the live event more so than ever before.

Wifi – SupplySide West will have a much larger wifi footprint than ever before. The majority of the expo hall, registration and the SupplySide education lounge will all offer wifi, brought to you by NSF.

Mobile App – SupplySide West has a comprehensive mobile app; be sure to download it. The app includes as much information as our show guide, so save a tree and use the app.

SupplySide Why... – This live event, located on the expo hall floor (booth #28073), will feature short, dynamic talks, presented by industry leaders, innovators and leading marketers. These talks will stream live onsite and online. Whether you are at the expo or not, you can participate! Click here to see our line up of speakers.

Editor's Choice Awards Reception – For more than 15 years, SupplySide has helped those in the dietary supplement, food, beverage, personal care and cosmetic industries break through the hype and ambiguity to find the information they need to explore, discover, innovate and market their next best-selling product. This year, the inaugural Editor's Choice Awards will recognize innovative launches from companies in the following categories: Animal Nutrition, Anti-Aging, Beverages, Functional Food, Multivitamin / mineral, Nutricosmetics, Organic, Packaging Design, Skin Care and Specialty Dietary Supplement.

Featured Speaker Ronald J. Lewis – We are very excited to have Ron Lewis as our featured speaker. Ron currently holds the position of vice president, procurement and chief procurement officer of The Coca-Cola Company, and is responsible in this capacity for stewarding in excess of $38 billion in external spending across The Coca-Cola System.

See you at the show or online!

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Heather Granato, @heathergranato, VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Delivering Content in a Personal Context

We're in the home stretch coming up to SupplySide West. The Health & Nutrition Network's content team has been working nonstop with our events and art/production departments: the show issues of Natural Products INSIDER and Food Product Design are rolling off the printer; our 250-page Show Guide and the SupplySide Mobile App are stocked with directory goodness; and the What's Hot @ SupplySide Digital Issue just went live, offering a guide to new product launches in the exhibit hall.

But there is so much more to content than just the printed word, and there are so many places at SupplySide West this year where we'll be bringing the content to life. Probably the most obvious is in our Education Program. More than 45 sessions are on deck in this year's Education Program, sponsored once again by BASF. We've organized the sessions under our Natural Products INSIDER, Food Product Design and Cosmetics Insights brands, and from noon on Tuesday, Nov. 6, through Thursday, Nov. 8, the 12,000+ participants at SupplySide West have the opportunity to delve into critical industry issues. Of particular note:

There are so many great sessions to choose from, it will force some tough game day decisions. Fortunately, we're also offering DVDs of individual sessions, as well as the full brand tracks, and even the complete Education Program. If you're on-site, visit our Registration area for details; after the event, check out to find out how to order.

Content is even taking center stage in the expo hall, as our SupplySide Why... program (modeled off the popular TED talks) will feature two full days of short, dynamic talks, presented by industry thought leaders, innovators and leading marketers. These talks will stream live onsite and online for optimal access.

Finally, I'm personally excited about the inaugural SupplySide Editor's Choice Awards. Our content team (thanks to Lynn, Teresa, Judie, Steve, Sandy, Celeste and Alissa) looked at innovative CPG product launches in 10 categories: animal nutrition, anti-aging, beverages, functional food, multivitamin/mineral, nutricosmetics, organic, packaging design, skin care and specialty dietary supplements. You'll want to check out the image galleries of the top 5 finalists in each category to get an idea of some of the great R&D work going on across the industry. The winners will be announced at the Editor's Choice Awards Reception—co-sponsored by AIDP, Draco Natural Products and SPRIM—taking place Nov. 6 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

And if you can't make it to Las Vegas for SupplySide West, be sure to stay up on the action by following SupplySide on Twitter via @SupplySide and #SSWExpo. We're excited about the content we're delivering this year, and discovering the trends that will drive our plans in the future, so we hope you'll be a part of it.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Sarah Waschler, Senior Director, Events

When play equals productivity

Four year olds have an innate ability to be brutally honest, without thinking twice. They will tell you exactly what is on their mind, without considering if the potentially negative effects of their harsh words. I don’t believe that are being intentionally cruel, they just have not yet developed internal filter that (most) adults have developed over the years. So when my daughter told me the other day that I don’t play with her enough, I took a step back and really took in her words– I knew that they were her genuine feelings. Ouch.

After a hard look at myself, I realized that she was right. Like so many other people, I too often get caught up in my daily/weekly/monthly to-do list, that I don’t give myself enough time to relax, let off steam or just simply “play.” Most of my time spent at home is used for running through a list of things that need to be done – grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, writing thank you cards. The list is endless and it always will be. Once I cross one thing off, another thing is tacked on to the list. Taking time out to do something fun often seems to fall to the bottom of the list. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day” seems to be the mantra of most working professionals these days, right?

But it turns out that the key to reducing that daily stress just might be finding that down time to play. And not only can it be a stress-reducer, but recent studies show that free time activities can help light up the brain and enable us be more creative. So the solution, when stuck on a tricky problem at work, might be to find some time to let off some steam. The freedom to take a step back from the problem can be what brings you to a solution. It seems counter-intuitive to say, play a match of tennis when you are stuck with an issue that doesn’t seem to get resolved, but if you have the flexibility to step away from what you are struggling with, a prescription for play just might be the key to your success.

Since my daughter shared with me the other day that she wished I would play with her more, I was faced with a mental roadblock at work. This blog post was due and I wasn’t quite sure what to write about. Then today my husband and I took our daughters to the state fair for some good ol’ fashioned fun. Somewhere between the ferris wheel and the midway games, it dawned on me that talking about the need to find some down time to help us problem-solve might be the best topic for the blog. It turns out that for me, a dose of play was just what I needed to get those creative juices flowing.

Sarah Waschler
Senior Director, Events

Danielle Dunlap, Vice President, Marketing Services

The View from Inside Our Window: VIRGO & Family.

October has always been one of my favorite months. In October, the Fall season has truly begun (even here in Arizona where the word ‘season’ predominantly means what you do to jazz up your cooking), Halloween is at the end of the month, Halloween candy is everywhere, and on the personal side, many of my friends and family, including me, have our birthdays this month. As of October 3rd, there is another birthday in this favorite month of mine to add to the festivities with the birth of my first grandchild. In addition to the overwhelming awe & joy her safe arrival brings, she makes me think of the other family I have in the people of VIRGO.

VIRGO wouldn’t be the place it is and that I love to be at without the heart we have, and while I can’t list everyone’s name, I wanted to give a little shout-out to the unique entity that is us. We started as a family-run b2b print magazine company 26 years ago and are now a more corporate-based media publishing company with our inclusion of digital-based programs across our diverse Networks – Business Solutions, Communications, Health & Nutrition and Medical. However, the influence of our family-oriented beginnings remains in the passion, drive and desire VIRGO has that make us as successful as we are in what we do.

From the outstanding Marketing Services team (of which I obviously show no bias towards by listing them first) who encompass program management, art & design and video production of all of our brands’ programs across the mediums we offer, to the amazing Web design & development team led by Jose Copado, not to mention the wealth of knowledge and writing talent we have in our incredible editorial leaders Heather Granato in H&N, Teri Lanza in Business Solutions, Khali Henderson in Communications and Kelly Pyrek and Michelle Beaver in Medical and their respective teams, and our multi-tasking and ever-growing Marketing team, we bring everything we have to the table to fully support and fulfill the work our hard-working team of salespeople led by the almost frightening brain trust of our Network leaders, Troy Bix, Jon Benninger and Katherine Clements do. This is all due to the entrepreneurial spirit and community vibe that our Executive VP/VFO, Kelly Ridley and CEO, John Siefert, have that drives team VIRGO.

With our SupplySide West show just a scant few weeks away, one can’t forget the awesome talents of our Events department overseen by Senior VP, Dana Hicks. The sheer amount of work the entire company puts into making it run so successfully year after year is the true definition of teamwork across a company. This includes the sometimes unsung departments like Jennifer Janos’s Accounting group, John LyBarger’s team of IT gurus, Heather Wood’s Human Resources, and the Mail/Shipping department that Mary Flores and Manny Vong have kept running smoothly for years.

As we move into the upcoming holiday season I wanted thank the VIRGO family for making all of our endeavors possible and to wish everyone out there a more immediate Happy Halloween filled with some righteous holiday candy.

Until next time in 2013 (despite what the Mayans may think)!

Danielle Dunlap
Vice President, Marketing Services

Jim Wagner - Global Account Director

The View From Seat 7F, Uh, 7A

A chance encounter leads to a conversation around how real sourcing takes place

Sometimes mistakes happen for a reason. Boarding an American Airlines flight from Denver to Chicago, I accidentally buckled into seat 7A instead of 7F. Sitting next to me was the very understanding and as it turns out very patient vice president of Paris Presents, a company that specializes in bath and beauty accessories.

I say patient because I morphed into one of those passengers who makes people reach for their headsets. Cosmetics Insights having recently launched, I couldn’t help asking how she sourced ingredients, packaging, contract services and everything else for her company.

She said she relied on close contact with her supplier network and spent time with her suppliers at trade shows. She often used Google, but found the searches too generic and too broad (a search for cosmetic brushes received 2.7 million results with only a few OEMs in the mix). She kept some print magazines on file but rarely turned to buyers guides because she knew the key suppliers in her market and had relationships with the ones she trusted. Trade shows were her principle means of forging new contacts.

The conversations across Natural Products Insider and Food Product Design are strikingly similar. More than ever, companies source strategically to allocate resources as effectively as possible. For some this responsibility falls to a handful of people while for others large groups manage the process. For information companies like Virgo, understanding this dynamic is crucial as is providing unique levels of content for different audience members at different points of their decision-making process.

With that in mind, Natural Products Insider and Food Product Design recently announced investments in digital programs, lead generation, and content marketing for 2013. Recognizing how people seek and use information, we will produce six print issues of our magazines rather than 12. The number of thematic digital issues will increase to six and will alternate with the print issues. A new digital resource, Definition Series Reports, will join dozens of online resources including Digital Reports, Content Libraries, Buyer’s Guidebooks, Immersion Centers, Solution Centers and Insights programs.

Some will say that we are moving away from print. Not true. Print has a new and vital role to play and remains essential to any strategic, integrated marketing plan. We are moving toward content marketing in its most efficient form. In essence, we place your brands in front of our audience, your customers, as they engage with specific content. For those on a sourcing mission, nothing is more important. Not even peace and quiet on a flight to Chicago.

Jim Wagner
Global Account Director

John Siefert • CEO

The Business Value of Technology and Services

For about two decades I have worked in and around the technology and services category. I have seen the hype and ambiguity swell around the biggest IT and service innovations the category could muster, and I have seen technology professionals and the channel that sells to them, take a big bite of the hype and shift their businesses (and marketing) almost overnight to climb aboard the newest thing. Back in the '90s it was client-server computing, in the 2000s it was the Web 2.0 transformation and today it is all around cloud computing.

Here is 20 years worth of experience in the form of advice: No matter what the new thing, it will become irrelevant unless it adds business value to an organization—oh and so will you.

IT professionals and the channel serving them have to question how much of this new cloud thing is marketing vs. actual new solutions and architectural approaches to achieving business goals. Further, if something is literally "new," what makes it worth the time, energy and effort of deploying and utilizing it? If it is just repackaged legacy technology or services to lever the buzz in the industry, is that being done within the context of what a company is truly trying to achieve with their IT and services strategy, or is it just catchy words surrounding an old school approach?

At the Channel Partners Fall Conference & Expo last week I had a ton of meetings with IT and telecom services channel partners, along with a host of vendors that are bringing some of these solutions to market. In all cases, questions and answers about "cloud" were the rage.

From channel partners themselves I heard: Should the channel be selling it? What defines a cloud solution? How should the channel position it with their customers? What is the difference between hosted voice and cloud-based voice? How does the channel make money on it?

From the vendors bringing the solutions to market I heard: Should I sell this through traditional VARs or telecom agents or both? Is there a market for cloud solutions at the mid-tier of the enterprise? Should this be sold by direct sales teams due to the complexity of the sale? How do I position its value at the channel and end-user levels? How do I differentiate myself from everyone else in this space?

I like to break these things down to their most basic essence by asking the simplest question: Are your customers asking for it to drive value at their business? I think the answer is yes, but it means that the channel – and the vendors selling through them – need to change their language and focus on business value, not just price.

Business value—the premise seems pretty simple: If I am an SMB or an enterprise, how can I judge the business value of using an IT service or solution to gain an advantage for my company? The reality is significantly more complex and includes issues like total cost of ownership (TCO), return on investment (ROI), time to deployment, training, business process shifts, security and data protection, communications strategy, leveraging an installed technology and more. That said, this shift in language for the channel has to include a discussion with their customers that goes well beyond how much money the customer can save with their service and toward the business value enabled by the solutions they are bringing to their customers' businesses.

This, in turn, means that channel managers need to evolve the management of their indirect sales channel. It is no longer about technology for technology's sake or promises to lower the customer's phone bill; it is about helping them optimize their customer's business process by harnessing the power of an always on, on-demand infrastructure to enable customers access to the systems they need, when they need them. Further, it is an analysis of how their existing investments in on-premises systems, (e.g. switches, servers, apps and more) can be used to scale via the addition of cloud delivery that extends the availability of data while protecting the integrity of said data through defense-in-depth architectural approaches.

This is a new language for many channel partners and the channel managers from the vendors they sell for. Can they evolve and do this? I believe they can, but it will only happen if all sides of the equation are willing to commit to it. That commitment includes understanding the needs of the end businesses using these solutions and speaking in their terms about the impact these solutions will have.

After spending a week with our readers and attendees – those Channel Partners putting their efforts toward this goal – I think there is great promise for the space. However, the end result in my mind is pretty easy math: if the channel is not leading with the business value of the technology and services they are bringing to market, they will perish.

John Siefert

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

Leadership – Do What Needs to Be Done

I recently attended the AZ Society for Human Resources Annual Conference with a few hundred kindred HR professionals. I realize that this sounds about as much fun as going to the dentist for most people, but I left there feeling inspired and refocused – just what the doctor…um dentist ordered.

One of the prevalent topics was leadership within our organizations.  My favorite of the sessions focused on how each employee has the opportunity to be a leader within the organization and make their job more rewarding by doing what needs to be done versus just doing what they have been told to do or what their job description says.  This principle is explored in the book Please Don’t Just Do What I Tell You, Do What Needs To Be Done: Every Employee’s Guide to Making Work More Rewarding by Bob Nelson.  The gist of the book being that employees are the best judge of what should or needs to be done in each of their respective departments.  They are at the ground level and are working in the trenches.  They know what makes their job easier and the things that impede productivity.  This gives them true insight into how to make an organization run more effectively and efficiently from the ground up.

This premise is very inspiring and really made me want to take this idea back to my organization.  When I thought about why such logical and fairly simple concept seems so novel, I came to the conclusion that sometimes employees are waiting on direction from management and management may not be able to respond to every organizational need quickly enough to make swift and strong organizational impact.

Traditional management and organizational ideals often rely on the trickledown effect or employees waiting to receive their “orders” from management. Using these principles, organizational development activities are decided at the top or executive level and then trickle down through the layers of management to get to the employee (think of the old game of telephone) and sometimes messages get jumbled or take too long to disseminate through the ranks.  In other examples, the employee is constantly asking for permission to make even the most minor change or decision and often has to wait for the manager to free up time in their schedule to review and/or implement the idea.

While trickle down works for communicating and setting the tone of overarching company principles like vision, mission and values and there will always be some type of approval process, I think we need to look to our employees to find the best ways to get their jobs done or identify cool ideas that our customers would benefit from and them empower them to take action. This is where the true opportunity for organizational leadership and making our job more rewarding lies – it is within each of us.

When you think of leadership within your organization what comes to mind?  Are leaders a product of the position they hold?  Do you have to manage people to be a leader?  Or maybe organizational leaders are people who demonstrate talent in their field and are willing to collaborate and knowledge share with others to make everyone more successful.  Perhaps they create their own career path based on identifying organizational needs and ways to fill them versus waiting for management to identify a need or create a “new” position.  Just maybe leaders don’t simply do what is asked of them – they do what needs to be done and then good things follow.

This concept is very inspiring and empowering if you are willing to take an active role in the organization and developing your own career.  I know that putting yourself out there might be uncomfortable, and I know that making recommendations can create more work for yourself, but it is the difference between waiting to see what will happen and making things happen and when it comes to your career which would you rather do? 

Fair warning Virgonians…copies of the book referenced above are making their way around the office ☺

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

Kelly Ridley - Executive Vice President, CFO

Serving Our Audience

I continue to be proud of the talented work that our editorial teams produce in order to meet the information needs of our audience.

VIRGO's first core tenet is content, everything we do starts with the content we create for our audiences.

Our mission is to help business professionals break through the hype, ambiguity and information deluge they experience, by offering trustworthy guidance on the decisions they need to make—be that early in their decision-making process, while making a purchase decision, or following the decision when a product, service or ingredient is being used.

You will find that our respected editors care about bringing you the content you need to make sound decisions during your information journey. They are intelligent professionals who are very passionate about their chosen field. Our brands have become the destination for trusted content.

If you have a role in infection prevention at your organization, you will want to read the article about how a hospital in New York has installed 39 cameras in its intensive care unit to boost hand hygiene compliance and control healthcare-acquired infections on our Infection Control Today website.

If you are a food product development professional, you will want to view our image gallery showing our nation's top ranked consumer quick-service restaurant (QSR) preferences on our Food Product Design website.

If you are an endoscopy nurse or technician, you will want to read the article on U.S. Trends for Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Devices on our EndoNurse website.

If you are a renal professional, you will want to read the article 120: The Most Crucial Days in Early Dialysis on our Renal Business Today website.

If you are a manufacturer of healthy foods, you will want to read the article outlining how unsanitary practices led to an FDA warning on our Natural Products INSIDER website.

If you play a role in an indirect sales channel, you will want to read the article outlining the fact that connectivity to private clouds for data-center hosting is driving demand for Ethernet access and find out who the ethernet leaders are on our Channel Partners website.

If you are a self-storage owner, you will want to read the article 7 Tips for Hiring a Great Self-Storage Manager on our Inside Self-Storage website.

You can find various sources of information on all of VIRGO's websites. Using the navigation bar, check out our Content Libraries, Webinars, Immersion Centers, Whitepapers, Buyer's Guides, Briefs, Digital Issues, Solution Centers, Image Galleries, Slide Shows and Reports covering the most relevant topics and issues in your industry. Come visit us often to keep up on all of the latest trends and issues.

Kelly Ridley
Executive Vice President, CFO

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

SupplySide Is Not Just a Live Event

I have been deep dive planning SupplySide West 2012 for several months now, but that is normal for my role here with VIRGO. Being attached to the SupplySide brand is a year-round commitment and it's very intense leading up to the live event. The brand is like a puppy—always with me, never leaves me and really is comfort. This year's expo will be over 400% larger then when I began working on the SupplySide brand 12 years ago. As the brand continues to grow over my tenure, so do I. I'm passionate about SupplySide!

What strikes a chord with me is how big everything is now! Really BIG!

Did you know that our SupplySide now represents seven different brand identities?

SupplySide West
Brings together the suppliers and buyers that drive the dietary supplement, food, beverage, personal care and cosmetic marketplace.

SupplySide MarketPlace
Newly retooled, SupplySide MarketPlace is a gathering point for the industry as a marketplace. The growth of this event in 2012 was the largest in 10 years!

SupplySide Science Tour
One-day all-science events that feature brief scientific presentations from a hand-picked group of top ingredient suppliers bringing the latest innovations directly to your area.

SupplySide Community
Where food , beverage, dietary supplement participants can discuss, debate and define major issues by posting their comments, creating links to deeper information, launching message boards and more.

SupplySide Insights
Exploring key issues of interest to the industry on a deep-dive level, SupplySide Insights started with R&D Insights, and will expand into five more areas by year's end.

SupplySide Education Library
Focused on science & product development, regulatory compliance & supply chain, and market data & strategy, the Library provides access to free, downloadable reports that summarize the education sessions.

SupplySide Store
The source for on-demand video, special reports and educational materials directly from the SupplySide events and related media brands spanning the dietary supplement, food and beverage, and personal care industries.

The SupplySide brand is just not a live event; we now have on demand products, free downloadable content, message boards, reports, live events and a whole lot more! It’s so exciting to be a part of this exploding brand.

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Heather Granato, @heathergranato, VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Peeking Behind the Curtain

VIRGO's business strategy starts from content; it's the first of our five key tenets that describe how we are positioned as an information distribution company. In previous VIRGO blogs, you can see the common theme of content marketing, and using content as the self fulfilling filter. Across the industries served by our Networks—from Health & Nutrition to Communications and Business Solutions to Medical—our audience engages with trusted brands in a way that delivers information when and where they need it.

It's designed to be an easy and painless process. Just as I am a registered user of The New York Times and can access anything with a single sign on, our registered site users can access downloadable reports and digital issues, tune in to webinars and follow the latest industry happenings via our brand (and personal) Twitter feeds.

There's a saying that you don't necessarily want to know how sausage gets made, just enjoy how tasty it is. (Of course, readers of Food Product Design actually make the sausage and do get that information from us, but that's just a side note.) It begs the question as to whether knowing what went into how all that amazing content was produced would impact your enjoyment of it. Or perhaps you'd enjoy it more? I'm hoping it's the latter...

Obviously, on the front lines are the content teams across our brands and networks. From the Network content leaders (including Kelly Pyrek, Khali Henderson and Teri Lanza) through the brand editors, assistant editors, freelance writers and industry contributors, we wake up every day looking forward to what we might learn and be able to share. Whether it's a breaking news story, a longer feature article or an in-depth report, it revolves around finding the right sources and contacts, and going through the process of making an informative, engaging piece.

Then we have to get that content into the right form. If it's a straight news or article posting, the process is fairly simple. An editor heads into the content management system to optimize and post it online, developing an appropriate Tweet, adding in graphics and making it SEO friendly. Similarly, online image galleries and slideshows are generally a matter of optimizing content and posting it appropriately. However, if you're talking about a print publication or a downloadable asset such as a digital issue or report, it's a team effort. It means finding time in the production schedule (thanks Danielle Dunlap), working with one of the creative and productive art directors (a team headed up by Dolly Ahles), a few rounds of electronic editing, and then uploading to the printer or sending to the production and web department for posting. And when it's finished and released into the world, we all take pleasure in seeing a finished product that will do what we envisioned—bring you content in context to guide your business toward success.

Hopefully taking a quick peek behind the curtain (or into the sausage) will enhance your enjoyment of the content you find through VIRGO. We certainly do enjoy what we're doing, and are committed to delivering you the information you need, when you need it. And if you can't find it, let us know; we're always looking for new sources to generate more content.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Katherine Clements - VP, Medical & Communications Networks


There’s been a lot of chatter in the last two weeks about the Olympics. One of the most interesting stories as it relates to VIRGO includes conversations about traditional media formats and how new media is changing how we enjoy or, don’t enjoy, the games. The Twitter hashtag #nbcfail started popping up as more and more viewers became frustrated with the tape delay of the games from London.

Although NBC is including live streaming as part of its Olympic coverage, many users have been disappointed with the quality and functionality, not giving fans the opportunity to truly digest the content as they’d like to. NBC paid billions of dollars to have the rights to broadcast the games, and therefore feels the need to maximize the Olympic coverage by airing it during prime time, giving them the opportunity to garner the most amount of revenue from advertisers.

According to the New York Times piece, historically, “It has been an effective tool for all Olympic networks, which have rationalized its use with this mantra: we hold the marquee sports until prime time to harvest the highest rating and optimize our advertising so we can afford our ever-increasing rights fees.”

But is this way of delivering Olympic content the best way for the audience? What about in the B2B world? Are expectations still the same?

Here at VIRGO, we’ve found that our busy audience expects to have the content they want, when they want it. For example, in the past year, Infection Control Today has developed more premium content than ever before. This content ranges in format from thematic digital issues to reports to slide shows, but the thing that remains constant is our audience’s ability to have access to the content on their time.

No longer do folks have to wait for the print magazine to show up on their desk to do research, or learn about the latest regulatory and compliance issues. Instead, these topics are covered extensively in our digital premium content available for immediate download. The print vehicle acts as strong partner to all of the other digital offerings.

We have seen significant growth in traffic to ICT, in addition to record downloads of our premium content. Our audience’s engagement with the brand during the past year has reached new heights. This is largely due to our ability to provide quality content available when the user needs it. As the brand moves away from traditional ways of disseminating information, we have found we are far better positioned to serve our audience based on how they go about their information-gathering journey.

Commentator Jeff Jarvis said it best in his recent article: “People want what they want when they want it.” As an information distribution company, we must continue to adapt to fulfill this need. “The problem for NBC as for other media is that it is trying to preserve old business models in a new reality.”

“The bottom-line lesson for all media is that business models built on imprisonment, on making us do what you want us to do because you give us no choice, is no strategy for the future. And there’s only so long you can hold off the future.”

Katherine Clements
Group Publisher, Medical Network

By Troy Bix, Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

Just Store It!

As we creep into the dog days of summer (and hope for cooler and less humid weather), the Inside Self-Storage Store, opened this year within the Business Solutions Network, has been turning on the heat. The store currently offers just north of 80 products including webinars, training courses, guidebooks, digital magazines, videos, audiocasts, marketing and staffing services, and industry-performance reports provided by Cushman & Wakefield. Now begins the science of creating just the right product mix to meet audience needs. To that end, we've been carefully watching the sales data to see which content is most eagerly consumed, and listening carefully to customer feedback.

Our bestseller so far is the Self-Storage Trade Area Snapshot Report, which includes pertinent information on facility occupancy, expenses, income, supply and rental rates within a three-mile radius of a specific address. For an existing or a wannabe self-storage owner/operator, there’s no better report on the planet to help compare notes on a particular location and its competitors. And the price is a mere $100, which seems to be a very satisfying price point for buyers.

Our second top seller is our good ole' Inside Self-Storage Guidebook, known in its annual print form as the ISS Factbook. This product is just what it implies: a reference guide to all things self-storage. It’s the perfect resource for someone breaking into the business, covering everything from development and real estate through construction and the ins and outs of facility operation. There’s still plenty of viability and interest in self-storage investing, and the Guidebook is a high-demand item for those investigating this lucrative opportunity.

As part of our summer product push, we’ve just completed filming on three new informative videos with self-storage legal expert Jeffrey Greenberger, who flew in from Cincinnati last week to brave the Phoenix heat. His presentations, focused on critical legal topics within the storage business, will be loaded into the store soon. We can’t have enough friends and supporters like Jeff, whose industry insight continually helps us meet and exceed our audience's thirst for meaningful content. I believe his videos will be among the store’s most popular products. We also owe a debt of gratitude to our videographer Scott Donaldson, whose professionalism and hard work ensure our products are top-notch representations of the ISS brand.

The weather is hot and the ISS Store is getting hotter! Our sales activity thus far has proven one thing to be true: Content is still king in this business. I encourage you to be bold and bullish with your industry information, and let content drive your sales effort. It’s a sure bet to keep your business blazing.

Troy Bix
Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

Kristin Ringdahl, SupplySide Managing Director

Achieving Great Things

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” — Leonard Bernstein

As I began to put my thoughts together for this post, I stumbled across Leonard Bernstein's quote in my Twitter feed. It made me laugh, because that's exactly what we're doing with SupplySide West 2012 – creating something truly great with not quite enough hours in the day. Granted I'm not in the same league as one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century, but it's nice to know he felt the same way about bringing something extraordinary – be it a symphony or an event – to life.

The foundation of SupplySide’s success is the concept of putting content into context. The content is a trade show floor with more than 1,500 booths and 12,000 attendees from around the globe and a five-day education program that explores some of the most important topics affecting the dietary supplement, food, beverage, cosmetic and personal care industries. The context is you – and the knowledge you need to drive revenue, market share and consumer loyalty.

What’s New at SupplySide West 2012?
To help you explore, discover, innovate and market, we are creating dynamic new events including:

SupplySide Why…
The SupplySide Why stage – located right on the Expo Hall floor – features brief, dynamic talks from thought leaders focused on the top innovations, issues and ideas. No PowerPoints, no podiums and no classroom style seating. Just the most interesting people and organizations impacting your business explaining WHY you should pay attention to what they are doing.

SupplySide Editor's Choice Awards Reception
VIRGO's editorial team will recognize the most innovative product launches in 10 categories: Animal Nutrition, Anti-Aging, Beverages, Functional Food, Multivitamin/mineral, Nutricosmetics, Organic, Packaging Design, Skin Care and Specialty Dietary Supplement. Winners will be announced at this hosted bar reception. This is your chance to discover the innovations that are making a mark in the market. If you would like to submit for a product worthy of consideration, please drop us a line at

SupplySide Marketing Insights Summit
This new event dives deep into marketing strategy including: social media strategy and execution, content marketing as a go-to-market strategy, integrated marketing approaches to enable lead nurturing and more. Designed to be practical and interactive, this event will help you cut through the noise that has so many companies confused about what to do and gain a clear understanding of the logical, simple approaches that can help you harness the incredible power of technology, content and audience.

The SupplySide West 2012 website is now live, so I invite you to check it out.

See you in Las Vegas November 5-9, 2012!

Kristin Ringdahl
SupplySide Managing Director


Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

The Simple Truth of Content Marketing

I've heard some pretty complex explanations of what "content marketing" is, and most of them seem at least partially intended to suggest that it is too complex for the average marketer to really get. You need an expert who is paid a lot of money to guide you through this, right? Actually, no. I think content marketing is one of the simplest, most logical approaches to building your business that you can take. I'll explain it right here in very simple terms. Content marketing is simply providing relevant information that your target audience wants and needs in order to connect with them. That's it.

The key is having the content that the people you want to connect with will want to get their hands on, and then somehow ensuring that those people hear about it. The content could be a white paper, a webinar, a report, a study, digital issue, an in-person presentation or event, or several of these forms. In fact, it is really powerful to use multiple forms of content around the same subject, because people prefer different ways to get their information depending on the level of depth they are seeking, the amount of time they have available, and of course the way they like to learn. Don't want to tune in for a 40-minute webinar on your computer? That's fine, download the PDF report on the topic and read it at your leisure. You get the picture.

The key to keeping it simple is not losing sight of the two most important components: content and audience. Ask yourself, is the audience that I want to connect with really interested in this specific piece of content? If the answer is no, you need to fix it. No amount of marketing in the world will convince busy people to download or register for a piece of content that they don’t care about. The content has to have value to the audience. As long as that is the case, you are good to go.

But...good to go where? You have a couple of options here.

  1. You could bring the audience to the content.
  2. You could bring the content to the audience.

Bringing the audience to the content would be putting your white paper, video or other content piece on your website, and then using marketing (email, ads, etc) to try to get people to come check it out. It can be pretty expensive and often the results can be a less than stellar. There are plenty of company websites that have cost a lot of money and time to produce, but see very little in the way of visitors. Bringing the content to the audience would be putting your white paper, video or other content piece in a place that the audience is already hanging out, and making it easy for them to find it. You probably see where this is going.

As an information distribution company, we spend all of our time providing content to our audience, making it easy for each person in that audience to find the information that he or she wants, and studying that engagement to constantly improve the way we do it. That's why our site traffic has doubled year over year and why we are seeing thousands of our audience members register for our websites to access content. So, if you have a killer piece of content that you know people will want to read/view/hear/download, consider putting it in the easiest place for those people to find it. White paper on a new innovation to lower the sodium in a food product without sacrificing taste? The Food Product Design website has more than 10,000 registered site users and generates more than 200,000 page views per month from key people in the food and beverage industry. Our sites serving the dietary supplement and cosmetic & personal care industries offer large, targeted audiences for those industries as well. Interested in learning more about content marketing and how it can drive your business forward? Drop us a line and let’s talk.

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Sarah Waschler, Senior Director, Events

Finding the Value in Trade Shows

Too often, it seems like we are all trying to find a few more minutes in the day. Minutes to research new vendors, put out fires, prospect for new clients, or just simply get our job done. After all of this, how much time is really left in the day for trying to stay ahead of the curve or “listening” to your industry through social media? What about that trade show invite you see come through your email in-box that is in complete alignment with your job? You probably wonder, how can I find the time to be away from the office for a few days, when I already don’t have enough minutes in the day.

While being away from the office may seem counter-productive, the truth of the matter is that face-to-face meetings and trade shows can make you more productive, if you choose the right ones. Here are a few simple suggestions of how to make the most out of your time at a trade show:

As show managers for the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, SupplySide MarketPlace, SupplySide West and the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, we strive to ensure that our events enable you stay at the top of your professional game, and allow you to be as productive as possible. If there is anything we can do to help you achieve these goals, just let us know!

Sarah Waschler
Senior Director, Events

Danielle Dunlap, Vice President, Marketing Services

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger".

Full disclosure – I am a complete Olympics junkie. From the Opening Ceremony, through two weeks of watching both the famous (swimming, gymnastics) to the lesser-known sports (field hockey, handball), and the Closing Ceremony capping off a glorious run of competition, I devour all that is possible. If I could, I would follow the Olympics in a tie-dyed painted Volkswagen mini-bus like a dead-head following the Grateful Dead on tour.

With the 2012 Summer Olympics just a month away, one of the many things I look forward to watching these amazing athletes test their mettle and to embody the Olympic motto of, ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’. After years of practice, training and pushing one’s self to the limits and beyond, they finally get the chance to bring that pride and passion of performance to the forefront to do what they do best and make at least one dream come true.

It’s that pride of performance, or attitude if you will; that I think sets a person apart from the average work-a-day effort. It’s not just about aptitude for a job or position, but also the attitude that helps a person to succeed in that particular area. I’ve been lucky to have worked with a great deal of people over the years here at VIRGO that have had both the aptitude as well as taken a great deal of pride in the work they put out and their attitude about it.

Pride of performance is key is all aspects of daily life, not just the workplace. Every day we should look to ourselves and see if we’re giving our personal best to the tasks at hand and with the world in general. Sometimes just the way a situation is approached can make all the difference. It’s not always about being the winner, but bringing the pride and passion inside of yourself out to be a contributor to the success of a team or program.

The official Olympic Creed:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Go Team USA!

Danielle Dunlap
Vice President, Marketing Services

José Copado - Chief Developer

Web App or Native App?

As the interest to create an iphone / ipad app builds up, one of the most important considerations to take into account is how to build and deploy the app. This is a very important consideration, since each type of app offers different advantages and disadvantages, especially now that Apple requires that magazine and newspaper apps offer access to subscription content either through in-app purchase, which entitles Apple to a 30 percent cut of the revenue, or remove links to their own external subscription sign-up pages. With that in mind, we can say that there are 2 basic types of apps: web applications and native apps.

Web applications are built using the usual, and proven, web technologies like HTML, CSS, and Javascript, along with server side technologies that allow the content to be moved from the server to the browser. These web applications can be deployed to Mobile devices in three ways:

  1. As an explicit web app running in the browser.
  2. As a "kind of" app, user runs the app by clicking on an icon on the home screen that launches the app in the browser.
  3. As a native app that loads the web app in a kind of like "frame".

The advantage of these types of apps are first of all, that companies can leverage their existing knowledge of web technologies to create them, which in turn saves the company money. Companies don’t have to create multiple versions of the same app, one for each type of mobile device, they can deploy the app once and it will work across multiple devices. Another advantage of creating the app using web technologies is that you don’t need to give Apple a 30 percent cut of the revenue.

On the flip side of the coin, we have native apps. These app are built natively on each device using each device’s software development kits. The advantage of this approach is that apps built like this offer the user a much richer user experience. This is a big advantage over web apps and at this time the gap does not seem to be shrinking. Applications built like these, more often than not, will require custom and expensive development.

When considering these two approaches, it is very important to think about what your goals for the app are, how you are going to achieve those goals and how much you are willing to spend.

José Copado
Chief Developer

John Siefert • CEO

The View Out Our Window: What is so Social about Media Anyway

I am being approached by people who call themselves "social media experts" to fill a position in my company almost every day, or to be a consultant that can "give the company and our brands the presence we need in social media." To both parties I say "hog wash," it is the same rhetoric we saw from people in the early days of the web—where people held titles like "webmaster" and served as the lynchpin to a web site presence for organizations. In reality, these people knew how to write code in HTML and had some graphic design experience (or had specific chops in platforms)—notice how this title has gone the way of duck billed platypus? That is because companies realized that their developers could learn UI by working with business people and artists, and they have shared the responsibility of web design and platform choices.

As companies start to embrace the power of the social networks that their people create and cultivate, the need for "experts" in the social media arena will go out of vogue, and it will simply be a part of everyone's job. I, again, draw the parallel to the once mandatory "webmaster"—as it is no longer about being a master of the web, but understanding how the web interacts with all of the other systems that run a business. The same is true with self proclaimed social media experts—this needs to be a shared responsibility that interacts and is influenced by all the other marketing, research and analysis a company is doing with their communications strategy.

At our company, VIRGO, we have standardized on TweetDeck as our user interface for Twitter, and literally have it on everyone's computer/mobile device. We have also started to incorporate tweeting into our content, marketing and sales workflow—making it a seamless part of everyone's day, and using the platform to both "listen" and to "broadcast" around the issues most important to the markets we serve.

With this approach our people are "social" and the media (the platform) is simply the vehicle to create networks, follow thought leaders and share our opinions on things we feel our audiences are interested in. Taking this a step further, social media, in and of itself, is really not that compelling—but the content shared by people, and where those 140 characters lead someone, is. We have been thinking about this in the following fashion:

  1. Short form: Social media outlets where we can share some of our unique thoughts, that can link an engaged flowerer to more information on that topic
  2. Standard Form: Articles, blogs, image galleries and other non-gated content that we will link to through social platforms
  3. Long Form: gated or paid content that is deeper, longer data in a PDF, community or paid video/report format, that we will link to from both short form and standard form content

This level of thinking and process makes it very easy to have our team thinking about where and how to be social, based on the content we are creating and offering it out to our followers, through mentions and via has tags with Twitter.

As you keep considering this, before you retain the services of a social media expert, I would recommend thinking about these 10 questions:

  1. Do you personally use social media outlets, and why?
  2. Are you simply thinking about social media because everyone else is?
  3. Are you following people and hash tags as much as you are broadcasting?
  4. Have you thought about how social media will interact with everything else you are doing?
  5. Do you have "follower envy" when you look at your competitors?
  6. Are you putting content you will deliver in the context of the social media platform you are considering? (FB different from twitter different from Pinterest)
  7. Have you analyzed your companies work flow, and thought about how your people can be more social?
  8. Are you being social, or simply trying to sell something (this does not work, by the way :-)
  9. Have you thought about the information needs of your follower/potential customer/etc that you wish to attract via social media
  10. Can you tier your information into short, standard and long form to nurture someone from a social platform to your site, and convert them to a potential customer?

So, again I ask the question: how social is media, anyway? I don't think it is all that social, but if your people bake it into their workflow and you create a strategic approach to distributing your information, whilst listening to what people are saying, you can be, and so can your company!

John Siefert

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

Taking Time to Recharge

In our fast paced world with everything on demand, multi-tasking and constant prioritizing - work often times taking a front seat in our lives - it is important to remember to take time to recharge. I routinely hear comments from my friends, family and colleagues about all of the stressors in their lives and how overwhelmed they feel. The need to feel productive and be "busy" is almost constant in our lives. If all of our brain power is focused on creating checklists centered on what we have to do or what still needs to get done it is easy to feel overwhelmed or even worse, uninspired. I regularly find myself skipping my workout to get some task done that at the time seems super important, but really could wait an hour or even another day, all for the sake of "feeling" productive. After all, if I can't cross something off my list right now, it may never get done! The funny thing is that when I really think about it, if I take some time to recharge, I tend to be more productive, creative and happier in the long run. I think many of you might be able to say the same thing. We need to reprogram ourselves and prioritize some time for ourselves into our day – without guilt. Explore your passions; take time to work on your hobbies, read a magazine from cover to cover, or go to a yoga class. Going even one step further (no laughing) - when is the last time that you did nothing – for like 4 hours? Whatever it may be, do nothing or something just for you every day to recharge your battery and get your creative juices flowing – you might even find that your best ideas or your best work will come as a result!

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

Dolly Ahles, Executive Director, Art

A Happy Break

I've started to enjoy the taste of coffee lately. Where mainstream America has had a long-time love affair with the bean, I have just developed a taste for it. Of course, mine, all sugared-up and a pale shade of a sunny Florida tan, would in all honesty be considered a hot, steamy cup of dessert. As I sip it, it makes me happy. And that, I believe is what we are all searching for in our lives, a little happiness.

I recently read about the late Harvey Richard Ball, the guy who designed the smiley face in 1963 as a public relations icon to ease the merger of two insurance companies. He received $35 dollars for his design. He never had it copyrighted, and not only that, but someone else attempted to copyright it, to boot. So, in spite of its popularity and wide-spread recognition, he never made any more than his commissioned fee. Unfortunately, I can't imagine that made him very happy. I for one, appreciate the symbolic sentiment of the smiley face, and his contribution to the fad of the '70s. It would have taken a very big vision on the designers' part to see where that was going. Really, who would have thought that yellow-faced, simple little grin would become a world-wide symbol for happiness?

In my role as a designer, it is my mission to have the vision to guide the reader visually though the items on a page in such as way that they are happy to read the content. In the art process, it's a matter of taking the valued words of the writers – the message, applying visual appeal, and reaching out to connect with the reader. And we, as a relevant content-resource company, often times have a split-second to connect with the reader; one brief moment to stop them in their tracks, and convey our message — ultimately making our message a new thought in their day.

Our messages come in a variety of different forms here at VIRGO. With four networks, Health & Nutrition, Medical, Communications, and Business Solutions, we have more content, than, well as my Aunt Rita used to say, "You can shake a stick at". Ok, I can honestly say I don't know exactly what that means, but we "shake it" to a whole new level. For instance, as a business leader, you can explore how VIRGO can assist you in shaking up your business with our services in marketing, events, and training & education, to name a few.

In our fast-paced society, I am thankful there are many ways to for us to connect. It's all a little easier when we can connect with one another, and together seek out the things that make us happy. After all, we want it ALL, and we want it to make us happy, improve our lives, make us smarter, make our teeth whiter, and tuck our kids in at night. A little happiness, by golly, it's not too much to ask.

Dolly Ahles
Executive Director, Art

Jim Wagner - Global Account Director

Typical Situation In These Typical Times

Too many choices. That's a good thing.

Too many ways to connect.
Too many social media streams to manage.
InstaGram and Pinterest, really?
LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter aren't enough?

These sentiments were prevalent not only at SupplySide MarketPlace but the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists' (NYSCC) Supplier's Day and the Council or Responsible Nutrition's (CRN) Communications and Media Outreach Committee meeting. It's understandable; but in these typical times, if you aren't involved your competitors will outflank you.

The sidelines aren't an option.

Cathy Kapica, senior vice president, global health & wellness for Ketchum, said people are wired to share and mobile devices are always on. In one day, the world sends 294 billion emails and spends 4.7 billion minutes on Facebook. In the always-on environment, to stand still is to court apathy at best, and at worst, well, you don't want to experience worst.

Worst (no pun intended) is what happened with the ham-handed meat industry—this can go on all day—stumbled through the red slime PR debacle.

At SupplySide Marketplace, Lori Colman, Co-CEO, CBD Marketing, contrasted Starbuck's adroit management of the cochineal brouhaha. The difference: Transparency, honesty, and fast response to customers' wants and needs.

Hopefully you will never face a pink slime situation. But there's another reason to keep up with new media. Content builds brands. Deep content experiences allow customers to engage with you. It allows you to meet customers where they are according to Clare Martorana, senior vice president and general manager, WebMD. Engagement leads to discovery, trust and relationships.

That's what we're about. VIRGO content, be it live events, print pages, blogs, Content Libraries, R&D Insights, Inside Cosmeceuticals, webinars or anything else is an opportunity for our audiences to find information. Companies associated with become part of the experience.

These typical times are exciting. Unfamiliar, random, more than occasionally uncertain but undoubtedly rewarding. And all of us at VIRGO look forward to participating with you on the journey.

Jim Wagner
Global Account Director

Kelly Ridley - Executive Vice President, CFO

Who Would You Rather Hire, an Obedient Person Who Will Just Follow the Rules or a Creative Person Who Will Look to Make Changes?

The question above was asked at a Strategic Planning seminar I attended in April that included about 25 participants, all CPAs with most at officer levels at their respective companies. After the instructor finished asking the question, I was thinking it was rhetorical and pretty much just mumbled ‘Creative', as if it were blatantly obvious, so we could move on.

I was shocked by the response of other participants. Many were raising their hands stating that for certain positions they would want an obedient person who would just follow the rules. One said that for entry-level accounting personnel, they just want someone to follow the rules. Another that worked for a mining company said they want the person with the dynamite to just follow the rules. After thinking about that for a minute, I thought you might want the person with the dynamite to be creative in case something goes wrong or unexpected with the project so you might react in a ‘creative' way to save your life as well as the lives of others. Just a thought.

I had the pleasure of being involved in a recent meeting with the entire Accounting group that our Controller, Jennifer Janos, arranged for all of us to discuss procedures and processes and how they might be improved in the department. I was really blown away by the thoughtful suggestions of the team, suggestions that have already made a difference in efficiency, accuracy and overall work satisfaction for our team and our Company. Of course, I had to give this example in the seminar to illustrate how you would obviously not want to hire the Obedient Person. However, everyone looked at me like I had a third eye.

At that moment, I realized that it was not obvious to everyone that you would want to hire the Creative person over the Obedient person every day of the week. It made me take a look at my profession with a different set of eyes. Who are these people and where did they come from? Has anyone read the news lately? We have things like social media and iPads now, and it is really quite helpful to have creative people at your company to drive innovation and ensure your competition does not make you irrelevant.

The next day, I was so happy to walk through the elevator doors into my comfort zone at VIRGO where creativity surrounds me. I love the people I have the opportunity to work with every day and am continually inspired by the great ideas that are generated throughout our Company. Our brainstorming lounge has allowed VIRGO team members to get together, share ideas and see what happens. Often what happens is something great, better than any one of us could have come up with on our own. We see value from getting creative people together with different backgrounds and experience to foster innovation. Somehow it just does not sound as fruitful to get a room of obedient people together to think about new ways to drive revenue at VIRGO.

As I sit here concluding this blog, I cannot think of a position I would hire for where I would choose obedience over creativity. Thanks to everyone at VIRGO for making our Company so exciting and forward-thinking. I truly love coming to work with all of you.

Kelly Ridley
Executive Vice President, CFO

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

Explore, Discover, Innovate and Market

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! SupplySide MarketPlace is only a week away. For 11 years, SupplySide East was hosted in New Jersey at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. Moving to N.Y.C. has been a long time in the making. For years, VIRGO has had its eye on hosting the expo at The Jacob Javits Convention Center but it's not as easy as it seems. The Javits Center is the only true convention center in Manhattan, so the ability to book new business is rare. Year after year, the center is booked year with existing trade shows. It took seven years to find the needle in the haystack but we are thrilled to offer the SupplySide industry a world class event in a world class city.

Here a few noteworthy highlights:

Explore and Market!
Our exhibit hall is largest it's ever been. Industry players will need plenty of time to take advantage of the nearly 400 booths of ideas, ingredients, innovation and opportunity, including more than 70 new exhibitors joining us this year!

Exhibit Hall Hours:
Weds., May 9
Thurs., May 10

Complimentary App! For attendees enjoying the SupplySide MarketPlace experience a free App that works on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or computer provides everything necessary to plan and experience the event:

My Schedule –Set your SupplySide schedule and book mark any education.
Exhibitors – A complete list of exhibitors, contact information and booth numberwitht he ability to browse by industry category.
Maps – Exhibitor floor plan; Global Experience floor plan; Daily Education Program Maps
Education – A detail of the entire education program, workshops, forums and VendorBrief Sessions
Speakers – A detail of speaker bios
Agenda – Day by day overview of all events
Compliance – The SupplySide Compliance Program provides tools to gain a greater understanding of some of the most common compliance issues within the industry and help support self-regulatory efforts Show Events
Locate Me
Community – An on-line community to discuss, debate and define all things SupplySide.
Store – Our on-demand SupplySide store.

New Premium Education Program!
We have top-notch education sessions covering the hottest topics in the dietary supplement, food and beverage and cosmetic and personal care industries. SupplySide MarketPlace education features focused sessions covering R&D, product development, market intelligence, business strategy, government affairs and regulatory compliance ensuring attendees will leave NVC with the information they need to succeed.

GMP Training 100
This course is a comprehensive introduction to the dietary supplement GMPs (good manufacturing practices)for new personnel and serves as a refresher to those in QA/QC, manufacturing, production or R&D seeking to meet a GMP training requirement.

GMP Training 200
This course covers how supplier qualification principles also apply to subcontracted services, critical components for supplier qualification programs, auditing processes and auditing techniques.

Inaugural APHA Botanical Congress
If you already use or are considering using botanicals in your products – whether personal carre, dietary supplements, or foods – you'll want to attend the full day forum.

SupplySide MarketPlace had been moved, re-named and re-built from the ground up to offer the most exciting live event for execs in the healthy products market to explore, discover, innovate and market!

See you in a week!

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Heather Granato, @heathergranato, VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Listening to Drive Engagement

When I'm sitting at the home office, enjoying a healthy cup of green tea, I can hear the sounds of the birds chirping outside my window. Or perhaps what I'm hearing are really the "tweet" noises coming from my computer. It's Tweetdeck, asking me to check in and see what's happening in the world.

In the world of B2B information distribution, it's amazing how quickly Twitter has become an essential part of doing business. From a content perspective, I can follow top customers, leading influencers in the industry, competitors, news sites and so much more. Those 140 characters often lead me to new story ideas, help me connect to new contacts, and are quickly creating communities of engagement (just consider what happened with "pink slime", as @CBD_LoriColman shared in a blog on Natural Products INSIDER).

Much as your mom told you that with two ears and one mouth, you should spend twice the time listening as talking, Twitter can be considered first a listening tool to find out what is happening, and then an engagement tool to share perspective and relevant content. Companies are rapidly getting the message, to the point that I'm now surprised when I look to RT (re-tweet) exciting news from a client that we posted to Natural Products INSIDER (@NatProdInsider), and the company doesn't have a handle to help them spread the info. Jeff Hilton, the founder of Integrated Marketing Group (@IMG_Branding), recently blogged for INSIDER about social media strategies for B2B companies, including using Twitter.

Across our Networks, our teams are engaging with their audiences, helping them discover information and putting it into context. @JudieBizz and @Editor4FPD bring the latest food news with Food Product Design's "take" on what it really means. @KhaliHenderson is an expert in the IT channel field, and offers the Channel Partners perspective to her followers. And @akoupal from VIRGO's events team is engaged with the Inside Self Storage industry—before, during and after the events.

Another key consideration is letting the real "you" come through. In an increasingly interconnected world, we're seeing fewer boundaries between "work" and "personal" spaces. Just as you develop relationships with your industry colleagues by sharing some of your personality insights, your social media reach can be enhanced by ensuring your followers get more from you than just a business perspective. Don't make it all about your own content/brand, or even exclusively industry-focused articles. Recognition of your favorite sports team (visit the home page for @JonBenninger, the vice president of our Health & Nutrition Network, and you'll know he loves the Sun Devils), thoughts on a recent movie, or sharing photos of a great meal (@CulinaryEditor, VIRGO's Doug Peckenpaugh, is great at this) all help to broaden your appeal.

Please keep in mind, I'm no Twitter expert—I've taken a lot of tips from our CEO, @johnksiefert—but I am seeing that the more I engage, the more I learn and find useful. If you're not Tweeting yet, consider getting started. Our Networks are delivering information quickly, and helping you find what you need to improve your business. Hopefully you'll follow us, and allow us to follow you; it's building our industries and moving toward a more informed future.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Jennifer Janos, Controller

What is Leadership?

An accounting student recently asked me if I took any of my accounting classes online. I caught myself by surprise when I answered. Online classes were not even a consideration because there was no "online" yet.

I realize I am dating myself here (let's just say I am a lot closer to my 25th college reunion than my 10th), but the question led me to reminisce about how much the business and financial environment has changed with the advancement of technology. And so has the role of a leader.

I have several years experience working within various organizations before and during the growth of technology. I've seen wonderful advances from an accounting and financial perspective, and an inability for employees to adapt. Technology was leading and keeping up with it was the goal – which was often a struggle. This attitude of "keeping up" seemed to be how many companies began re-defining the term leadership.

The VIRGO environment quickly changed my perspective of leadership. My fellow VIRGOnians truly exemplify how successful it is to get excited about technology, embrace evolution and discover new ways to be accommodating. VIRGO invites each new technology in like a long-lost relative in need of a home-cooked meal. That's leadership.

As I approach my 9 month anniversary with VIRGO (just a 9-month-old, now I feel young again), I continue to be impressed with how each employee shows leadership in one form or another. There is an unwavering sense of pride in what we do here. A commitment to our BRANDS —remaining the market leaders by making sure we deliver only the most relevant CONTENT —along with the best USER EXPERIENCE. There is a shared dedication by all employees to VIRGO's common goal of leading the way in new technologies – and we are succeeding – due to the amazing teamwork that just seems to come naturally. To me, that's leadership.

In closing I am reminded of a quote from an article by John Kotter for the Harvard Business Review:

What Leaders Really Do
They don't make plans; they don't solve problems; they don't even organize people. What leaders really do is prepare organizations for change and help them cope as they struggle through it.

I am proud to be part of such a great leader in the media field.

Jennifer Janos

Kristin Ringdahl, SupplySide Managing Director

The View From Our Window: Golden Opportunities

Each spring in the Sierra Foothills of northern California, hardy souls go down to the river's edge to pan through the pebbles washed downstream with the snowmelt in search of nuggets of gold. The first time I saw someone doing this, I thought it was quaint… and weird. Later I found out that each year a lucky few make a small fortune from this endeavor. In this competitive marketplace, we are all like those prospectors trying to find golden nuggets in a vast stream of information.

That is one of the reasons why I am so pleased to have joined the SupplySide team. SupplySide is THE place to explore, discover, innovate and market those golden opportunities in the natural and healthy marketplace whether in person or online. With two leading trade shows: SupplySide MarketPlace and SupplySide West, as well as: SupplySide Science Tour bringing the science to you; SupplySide Community where experts and thought leaders debate, define and discuss the issues that affect your business; SupplySide Store providing on demand insight and education; and more to come in the next few weeks, SupplySide is focused on providing you with the critical information you need to find those golden opportunities.

The challenge is that this is a complicated, multi-dimensional process. Where do you turn if you want to explore the best practices in product concept and development? Discover an emerging new ingredient? Learn about vital information affecting your supply chain? Or innovate using the latest market intelligence and business strategy? SupplySide, of course!

Building a healthier world is not just about what we put in and on our bodies, it's about what we do to support this fragile planet upon which we all live. That is why I am so proud of the SupplySide Sustainability Program. We are using the advances in technology to make a greener world – literally.

As part of our ongoing efforts, we will be launching the SupplySide MarketPlace mobile app on April 2. The app contains everything you need to plan for SupplySide MarketPlace, May 8-10 at the Javits Center in New York City. Not only is the app is not only an essential tool to navigate the show, but for the first 2,000 downloads, we will plant a tree for each download. We've chosen American Forests, the nation's oldest non-profit conservation organization, as our partner in this endeavor. This means that for every 2,000 trees that are planted, 10 tons of CO2,will be absorbed from the atmosphere per year.

Talk about turning green into a golden opportunity!

Kristin Ringdahl
SupplySide Managing Director

Sarah Waschler, Senior Director, Events

The View From Our Window: Looking Back and Ahead

In just one short week, our Events Department and Communications Network will journey to Las Vegas for VIRGO's own Channel Partners Conference & Expo. This year marks the trade show's 15th anniversary and throughout the years we have been many things to our customers. What first started out at the PHONE+ road show evolved to the AgENt Conference & Expo, which grew again into the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

Whenever we reach a landmark anniversary, it is natural to reflect back on what has happened over the years. I am eternally grateful for all of the experiences I've had over the past 12 years working at VIRGO, 11 of which included working on Channel Partners. I've watched this event grow and mature over the years. Our customers always have taken the networking and nightlife side of Channel Partners very seriously, but over the years it has grown quite apparent that our event is where "business gets done." It has been such an honor to watch our show mature over the years into the industry-leading event for the channel that it has become today.

But there's still a lot of work to be done. While we are proud of how Channel Partners has grown over the years, we should never lose sight of our goal of continued growth. Whether you are celebrating a professional anniversary or a personal one, anniversaries should be a time to not only celebrate your accomplishments, but to take the time to reflect on how you should keep moving forward in a positive direction. Where do you see yourself, your organization, your business in 15 years? Will you be in the same place as you are now? How will you grow your customer base? What new technologies will you implement to improve your existing processes?

As I approach my own 12-year anniversary with VIRGO, I like to think back on how we have improved over the years. Though there have been many changes, I have been lucky enough to work with an amazing team who helps make all of the behind-the-scenes logistics happen. We've embraced some big technology improvements along the way — sometimes willingly, sometimes not! Through it all we've worked hard to make the Channel Partners Conference & Expo the go-to resource for the channel, and we've had a lot of fun along the way. We hope you have enjoyed the ride, too!

Sarah Waschler
Senior Director, Events

John LyBarger, Information Technology Director

The View From Our Window: Event Mobile Collaboration

In my last blog I discussed how far mobile technology has come. This time I'd like to talk about how VIRGO is taking advantage of this technology.

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to create an easy way for our readers, attendees and exhibitors to collaborate through our events. In that spirit, we have created a mobile application that allows participants to see all aspects of the event right from their phones – exhibitor listings, event schedules, education sessions, interactive floor plans, access to our social media, the ability to download documents pertaining to the events and much more.

VIRGO's upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo will utilize this mobile application. We've made it very easy to quickly download and use immediately. While on your Smartphone, point your mobile browser to CP Mobile. From there you will be directed to download the proper version of the app for your particular device. If you happen to have a QRCode scanner, just scan the code below:

Stay tuned as we get closer to our SupplySide MarketPlace event. We will be providing download information very soon.

One of VIRGO's five tenets is tied to the User Experience; this enhanced application is designed to deliver information to our Audience in a contextually relevant way to help them make business decisions. As for the Information well, that goes back to our key tenet #1: Content.

We hope you will find this new tool as useful as we do. As always, your feedback helps us improve upon our technologies, so feel free to send an email my way with any questions you may have.

John LyBarger
Information Technology Director

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

The View From Everyone's Window

Every person and company we work with shares a common characteristic: the desire for results. That could mean a lot of different things depending on the individual's industry, type of company, role in the company, and more. For a food technologist working on a new flavor for a beverage brand, this might mean creating a fantastic product for the market. For a CEO at a dietary supplement company, this could mean guiding the company to growth and profitability at a time of significant industry evolution. For a marketing director at an ingredient supplier, this could mean developing a strategy that drives sales and delivers a clear return on investment. We see this desire for results in our magazine readers, our event attendees, our website users, our advertising and marketing clients, our speakers and writers. Everyone. We share that desire for results as well, and the key to our success is in helping each of you get the results you want. That is our single focus.

I am very pleased to report that this focus on results is working. As we concentrate our efforts on serving our audience with content they want and need, we are seeing incredible engagement with our brands. In some cases, our website traffic is up more than 70 percent over last year, and that is with fewer emails being sent out. That's right, fewer emails. We are doing this by focusing on delivering a great user experience and using our performance marketing to help our audience members find the information they want, when they want it. One great example is our Food Product Design Content Library. We are seeing incredible audience usage of this product, and the accompanying lead generation for our client sponsors. It is actually very simple and very logical. I encourage you to check it out. We are on the cusp of introducing the Natural Products INSIDER Content Library and expect the same great results for our audience and our sponsoring clients.

Everything we think about and do is about results. From helping an audience member Explore, Discover, Innovate and go to Market with an idea, product or service to helping a sponsor or advertiser connect in a logical and meaningful way with an audience member to drive their businesses forward. I can say with absolute confidence that we deliver results, and we do so with ideas and programs that you will find nowhere else. As you consider what you want for your business and its future, be sure to connect with us. You will be pleased with the results.

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

By Troy Bix, Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

The View From Our Window: Expanding Audience Engagement to Better Their Businesses

As part of our changing model of content creation and delivery to better align with the evolving business needs and demands of our core market audiences, VIRGO and the Business Solutions Network are proud to launch the Inside Self-Storage Store, the world’s first on-demand, online market for insight and education for the self-storage industry. The ISS Store will be a central hub for self-storage facility owners and operators to obtain cutting-edge information and educational resources, including guidebooks, digital magazines, educational videos and webinars, training courses and exclusive offers on self-storage services from several leading business partners.

Through this diverse products mix, independent owner-operators, multi-facility owners and even REITs will be able to leverage premium content focusing on facility operation, development, construction, finance, real estate, legal issues, marketing, technology, and important trends and market data. The scope of the ISS Store is unprecedented in the storage industry, but the changing dynamics within the marketplace require us to think aggressively and creatively about how to better serve our audience.

The ISS Store’s launch will coincide with the Inside Self-Storage World Expo on March 14-16 in Las Vegas. The concept will enable it to fit nicely within our other brand properties—including the print magazine, primary website, Self-Storage Talk forum, Self-Storage Training Institute and live events—and serve as a central distribution point for critical information, education resources and business services, all available on demand at the touch of a button.

A younger demographic of facility owner-operators is emerging as aging independents, now in their 60s and 70s, hand the reigns of the family business over to their children to run. These new owner-operators are technologically savvy, constantly plugged-in online and used to having information at their fingertips. They are going to run their businesses differently than traditional methods. We’re at the cusp of that right now. Through the online store, ISS will be able to provide the types of information and method of delivery that this new owner demographic will embrace and use to gain a competitive advantage.

All self-storage owners need powerful, innovative strategies to create a positive impact on their customers and revenue. To help with that endeavor, one of the real highlights of the ISS Store will be industry market intelligence from Cushman & Wakefield, a leading real estate and consulting firm, that draws on 20 years of historical and current industry, market and property-specific data. The data stems from the work Charles Ray Wilson started in 1992, when he founded Self Storage Data Services. Ray’s work remains the only comprehensive source for real-time performance benchmarking and research reports in the business. He partnered with Cushman & Wakefield last June, and we are excited to partner with them to deliver this treasure trove of intelligence to investors and self-storage businesses of all sizes.

This is the market research data that previously has been proprietary and subscribed to by Wall Street analysts and major institutional investors. The playing field for acquiring and leveraging market research will now be level. Data includes statistics on supply and demand, rental rates, occupancy levels, concessions and rental income from private and publicly owned facilities compiled from a nationwide sampling of more than 50,000 facilities and 1 million storage units. Through these reports, facility owners will be able to get a better gauge on their local markets and gain a sharper perspective on the national picture.

The time has never been better or more important for self-storage owners to make more informed decisions regarding their businesses, and the ISS Store’s market data reports, as well as other business services from leading vendor partners, will help operators do just that.

Another key component to the ISS Store will be its ability to act as a promotional extension of our live education events. Select webinars and expo education sessions will be available after events occur as either downloadable videos or audio files. Having these products available will enable us to expand the engagement opportunities with our audience and increase their educational choices. In a nutshell, we are expanding the ISS brand to be more relevant and convenient, 24/7.

Of course, archived videos and webinars are no substitute for the benefits that can be gained from being present at a live event. The core audience that attends the ISS World Expo, for example, enjoys the many networking opportunities, roundtable discussions and interaction with vendors and other operators to learn what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. They want to be able to attend a session live and ask questions at the end. But now we have the opportunity to provide to owners, managers and investors who may not be able to travel or attend all the sessions they want to download a meaningful report or watch an educational session to help them better their business.

The ISS Store will expand the opportunities for self-storage owners and operators to become more informed, educated and competitive. We want them to build their businesses stronger and stronger. To do that, we will continue to think of the most convenient and best ways to develop and deliver cutting-edge, premium content to assist them run and grow their self-storage facilities effectively.

Troy Bix
Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

John Muehling – VP, Marketing

The Choice Generation

As I sit down to write this, I find myself in the midst of a life-changing moment. In the next few weeks, maybe days, or even hours, I am going to be a Dad again! At almost 43 this time, it's going to be more than just a new, exhilarating chapter in my life, it's likely going to involve regular visits to the gym, just so I can keep up with her (LOL)! So as I was pedaling the elliptical yesterday morning, I started to think about the world that my daughter, Marisa Ava, will be entering; and I started to think about The Choice Generation.

We live in a world filled with choices. From fast food to grocery stores, from brick and mortar to online businesses, from satellite to cable television, from hardback books to the Kindle, from the iPhone to the Android to the Blackberry. Our world presents us with a constant stream of choices, and the next generation will have exponentially more than we can imagine – choices that haven't even been invented yet.

For the marketers of the world, jockeying for the preferred choice position has become the great challenge. Turns out, I am one of those marketers, one of those who are trying to figure out the right formula to become the preferred choice. As I ponder the choices that will be presented to my daughter and her generation, I wonder if the marketers of the world are realizing that it's not always about who spends the most money (though the presidential candidates will sure prove me wrong here), it's really about the trust you must earn to be in that preferred position.

For the Choice Generation, the companies that focus their efforts on earning the trust of their audiences will be the ones who are chosen. Even more importantly, it will be the companies who respect the choices that their audiences have made who retain their preferred status and experience growth.

My marketing team and I spend a substantial part of our days thinking about the decisions that our audiences have to make, and the information they need to make them. We also think about all the ways they can get that information, what would make them choose us? And, if they did choose a VIRGO brand, what would their experience be? Our job is to position our brands in the right place, at the right time, so that the information we are offering is within reach, when it is needed. To accomplish this, we are constantly reviewing the behavioral patterns of our audience, watching how they click on our emails, analyzing what they are clicking on our websites, looking at the time they spend on our sites, and whether they are spending that time on a mobile device. We look at the type of content they are viewing and work to ensure more of that content is available. We work to avoid using cheesy discounts or iPad giveaways. Not because they aren't fun or effective (at times), but because they don't last, they do nothing to build trust. They only serve to span the gap until the next discount or giveaway. Is this such a radical view? I don't think it is. I think when it comes time for the Choice Generation to make their choice, they will gravitate toward the brand or resource that most delivered on their promise (whatever it may be). And they will gravitate to those who delivered it consistently, while thinking more about their audience's needs and less about their own. Our promise is to deliver useful content that helps our audience make the right decisions for their business. A very simple promise, but a very complex responsibility.

And so I ask you, are you thinking about your audience the same way? Are you really thinking about the next click they will make after seeing your email in their inbox? Or are you more interested in whether they simply "opened" the email? Are you thinking about the place they will be when they need that information, whether it's at their desk, on their mobile device or at a live event? Will you be there? Will their experience bring them back to you, or will it take another discount or contest?

The Choice Generation is upon us, and their choices are becoming nearly infinite. How will your company stand out among them? And when it comes time for them to make their choice, why should they choose you?

Want to share your thoughts about the Choice Generation? We'd love to hear them. Tweet your comments or post on our Facebook page.

John Muehling
VP, Marketing

Danielle Dunlap, Vice President, Marketing Services

View From Inside Our Window: Ch-ch-ch-changes

Change is what makes the world go round. It’s inevitable, it’s constant and it’s really all in how a person approaches it that defines who they are deep down. Some embrace it, some are trepidatious, yet eager, some go along begrudgingly and others just stick their head in the sand pretending it won’t actually happen. I’ve always felt that change is a great thing as long as it isn’t change for changes sake. If it ain’t broke, don’t dismantle it into a million pieces is my motto. But, when forces of nature come along that alter the current landscape; how things were done 10, 5, even 1 year ago aren’t quite as effectual as they were with previous systems. Just like with computer software, an ‘upgrade’ to your processes may be in order. You might not need an entire system overhaul, but a general review of how everything flows together and where improvements could be beneficial is not only showing openness to new possibilities, but smart business practice. Since taking on overseeing Media Operations a few months ago, I’ve had to look at our set-up and analyze how the Marketing Services team handles the steps in implementing the myriad digital programs that we have added to our repertoire over the last couple of years. One of the major changes that has been initiated is that the Marketing Services Program Manager team has been expanded to be more in line with our digital program expansion and they will be overseeing those programs for one Network each in order to do an even better job of fulfilling our clients’ as well as our own expectations of stellar customer service and program implementation. 

From our Solution Centers, Immersion Centers, Reports, Whitepapers, Digital Issues to our newest endeavors like the Natural Products INSIDER Ingredient Buying Center, and the Food Product Design Content Library, the Program Managers will be able to focus on the specific Network and aid in driving these programs to even further success.

By the time this is posted, this year’s Super Bowl champions will have been crowned. Which ever team it is that has triumphed, you can bet that a factor of that victory was due to their willingness to embrace the changes that were needed and incorporating them as a team. It’s what I look forward to it happening within our team and am already excited by the response I’ve been seeing.

Danielle Dunlap
Vice President, Marketing Services

Heather Granato, Group Editorial Director, Health & Nutrition Network

Leading with Passion

In 2011, I had the opportunity to serve as a judge in the "consumer enthusiast" category of the FOLIO: awards, honoring achievement in magazine content and design. The entries I evaluated were quite outside of my own "enthusiasms"—hunting, automobiles and crafting—but it was eye-opening to see the connection between these publications and their audiences. "How Squirrel Hunting Saved My Life in Vietnam" isn't something I would have looked for, but the article has stuck with me; I imagine a hunting enthusiast would have found that first-person account fascinating.

Personally, I was fortunate enough to find my way to a perfect crossroads—nutrition and journalism. My parents were always supportive of my desire to be a writer, and were into vitamins and organic foods way before they became today's multi-billion dollar industry. They encouraged me to look for a career that would be personally fulfilling, and had confidence I would succeed in whatever I put my mind to. Two quotes I'd like to share on that topic:

"If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting." – Katherine Hepburn
"My mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general, if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.' Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." – Pablo Picasso

It's heartening to look at the other recent blogs from the VIRGO management team and see two pervasive themes. First, the emphasis on the importance of content; it's what drives us and what serves our industries. And second, the mention of "passion." Our teams are passionate about their industries and about success—personally, at a company level, and for our industry colleagues, friends and companies.

As the head of the content team in VIRGO's Health & Nutrition Network, I'm fortunate to work with really talented writers and editors who are really invested in our industry. They are developing content and delivering it in the right context for people on an information journey. Perhaps it's looking for optimized, evergreen content—organized by topic—in the Food Product Design Content Library; delving into the Economies of Outsourcing via Natural Products INSIDER's digital issue; or exploring the possibility of including stem cells in cosmeceutical products by reviewing a slide show on Inside Cosmeceuticals.

However, this passion crosses into all of our Networks. I checked in with the other content team leaders to get an idea of what they've launched recently that has resonated with their audience and yielded some passionate engagement. In the Business Solutions Network, Teri Lanza called out the Sounds of Storage podcast series, highlighting top experts in the self storage industry who are speaking at the upcoming Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, March 14 to 16, helping start the expo experience ahead of time. She also highlighted an in-depth report from Professional Door Dealer, "Turning Point in 2012: Will the Industry Veer Toward Prosperity, or Are Tougher Times Ahead?", offering industry-relevant data that reflects true trends in the business

From the Communications Network, Craig Galbraith cited the launch of Solution Centers on both Billing & OSS World and on Channel Partners for the amazing audience engagement they're yielding for the underwriters. The Next Generation Communications Service Provider Billing Resource Center in particular has generated tremendous traffic, indicating this content is filling a great need for this audience.

And from the Medical Network, Kelly Pyrek mentioned the fact that issues related to regulation and increased oversight by the federal sector are becoming of critical importance to infection preventionists, the target reader of Infection Control Today. As such, the 2012 Regulatory Update resonated with its audience of busy health care professionals who need pertinent information they can immediately apply into daily practice. Beginning as a cover story in the January print issue of ICT, the content was developed into a popular slide show that acts as an executive summary as well as a teaching tool for understanding the complexities of mandatory reporting, infectious disease exposure and regulation by FDA and OSHA.

It's an exciting time for those of us in the content field. There is so much information out there today; we're dedicated to helping our industries sort through the noise and find what they need, when they need it, to truly succeed and achieve. It means proactively watching the trends and the traffic, engaging with our audiences at every level, and being committed to the path we've chosen. I'll end with another quote, as I thought it was quite apt. Frank Sinatra once said, "Throughout my career, if I have done anything, I have paid attention to every note and every word I sing…If I cannot project this to a listener, I fail."

At VIRGO, we're paying attention to our words and our delivery. It's the passion we have in this quest that will bring success to us all.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Dolly Ahles, Executive Director, Art

A Matter of Focus

We are still in the first month of the New Year. New Year's resolutions are still on our minds, fading—in and out of our focus. I think the word focus is the real key. When we create a resolution, our initial noble thoughts are intended to find a way to improve our lives. Then our normal everyday lives hit after the holidays, and our focus can slowly slip from our view. I was reminded of the resolution hype around me when I saw premier of The Revolution, a TV series following a contestant's 5-month personal makeover in five days. It had interesting hosts with interesting tips, but my mind kept going back to "Gosh, I should be working on my own resolutions". Which maybe what was going on in everyone else's mind, since the ratings dropped from low to cancel territory.

Here at VIRGO, we have realized that focus is a key element to success. We have created our 5-tenets: Content, Audience, Brands, Performance Marketing, and User Experience. We designed our logo to reflect these 5 elements, and remain concentrated on these items for our customers within each of our networks. As you can imagine, we operate at a high-level of efficiency. We don't call our softball team the "Content Kings" for nothing. Who, by the way, won their last game by a landslide ... GO VIRGO!

Our networks: Health and Nutrition, Medical, Communications, and Business Solutions keep their attention on our core tenets. I also can relate this to you for a personal note. Imagine creating five core tenets for yourself, 5 personal beliefs that you can continually refer back to, and quickly jump back on track. That's what a makes a resolution successful … finding a permanent way to follow your path. This is exactly what we do in our networks. In the business excitement of creating and building an amazing amount of current, engaging content for our readers, our networks touch back to our core tenets to ensure a superior customer experience.

"Our thoughts create our reality — where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go." Peter McWilliam

In short…I believe that thoughts become things; and what we focus on, we get.

In our art department we have established four network art directors as leaders dedicated to focusing on the specific brands in their network. This type of specific focus lets them learn about the mission of each brand, as well as getting to know our clients, readers, users and attendees in depth. In addition, this creative overseeing ensures a cohesive brand for each product. This rounds-out our focus, adding to all the layers of VIRGO.

Focus…a key element of success. It's like a little magic dust, add it and watch what happens.

Dolly Ahles
Executive Director, Art

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

Investing In The Future

I won’t go so far as to quote a Whitney Houston song, but I do believe that if we want to hire excellent talent, we need to invest and take an active role in growing that talent. That's why I'm excited to announce that VIRGO has just launched our first formal internship program.

We've partnered with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University to employ the brightest of their students for a semester-long editorial internship at VIRGO. Indeed, these students are smart―three are on the dean's list.

The basic idea is that the content teams in each of our networks (Health & Nutrition, Medical, Communications and Business Solutions) will work with one intern per semester. The interns will write news stories, in-depth articles, and blogs, conduct interviews, and edit, all to add value to our products and brands. This is not an internship where copying and fetching coffee are part of the expectations. We want to provide our interns with a real-world experience and knowledge-sharing opportunities as they prepare to embark upon their career paths.

It's our sincere hope that with the right leadership and mentoring, our interns will get a true feel for what being a member of the content team of a B2B media company is like and choose a career in the field that we are so passionate about here at VIRGO. With all that said, we are only a week into our inaugural semester, so let the games begin! Welcome Newlin, Isabelle and Hayden. We are happy to have you and are dedicated to making your time with us rewarding and fun!

We are close to filling our fourth position too, and hope this fourth intern will be as ready to learn as the rest of the VIRGO interns. Newlin, Isabelle, and Hayden are sophomores, which is quite early in their academic careers for taking on the added work of an internship. At VIRGO, we're glad to be a big part of their learning experience, especially at this integral time in their education. They're learning from us, and we're learning from them. For instance, one intern took a proud picture of the ID placard at her cube. For us, this is a reminder of how exciting a new career is, and of how rewarding it is to grow in a field. Do you remember what it was like to start your career? The butterflies, the excitement, the eagerness to excel? That's what we feel from our new hires. They're investing in their futures, and we're investing in them.

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

Katherine Clements - VP, Medical & Communications Networks

The View from our Window: Content Is King

Everything we do at VIRGO is centered on our readers and the content they're seeking to guide their professional decision-making processes. In fact, we're so passionate about the principle that even our VIRGO softball team is aptly named the "Content Kings." We believe that by focusing on unique, high-quality content, we become a valued resource that our readers rely upon during their results-driven information journey.

When VIRGO first started more than 25 years ago, the only way for folks to get information about their industry was through printed magazines and the occasional industry tradeshow. A lot has happened in the last few decades, and our readers now participate in their information journey multiple times a day through multiple vehicles, including their smartphones and tablets.

Here in the Medical Network, we’re making changes that align with our audiences’ evolution of gathering information. In October, we announced that SurgiStrategies was moving to a new model in the New Year, including eight thematic digital issues and four accompanying print issues that support the long-view of a particular topic.  

That same month, we also announced the Renal Business Today launched RBT+, a series of thematic digital issues surrounding four of the most critical topics facing the kidney-care community in 2012.

As we start to see these thematic digital issues come to fruition, we’re excited about their success. Recently, SurgiStrategies launched its Legislation & Regulation thematic digital issue, discussing EHR technology, ICD-10 coding and other pertinent matters among the ambulatory surgical center community.

Renal Business Today recently made available its January RBT+ issue focusing on disaster preparedness. This topic continues to be an important one as natural disasters have the potential to wreak havoc on the dialysis community and their necessary treatments. As a precursor to the issue, Keith Chartier, publisher of RBT, began exploring some of the challenges related to disasters in this blog post. Whether it be a blog, online article, special report, or feature in a digital or print issue, all of these content portals work together to provide our customers with as much information as they want, when they want it.

The new content strategy in the Medical Network really gives our talented and knowledgeable content team an array of opportunities to dive deeper into the issues that are most important to our readers – fostering their information journey from beginning to end. We’re looking forward to a successful year ahead ... where content is king and our customers profit because of it!

Katherine Clements
Group Publisher, Medical Network

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

Happy New Year!

As we head out of the holiday season, I can't help but ponder our shopping habits. This time of year, when shopping is a part of everyone's lives, whether you want to or not, whether you've been good or bad, our habits have changed. Technology is the driving force. Cyber Monday is just as important as Black Friday and we are all evolving along with it. I made more on-line purchases this season than in years prior and expect this trend to continue. In years past, on-line shopping was convenient because my family lives out of town. Now, add to that better pricing, time savings and no shipping burden – it's a no brainer.

Technology is driving changes in all aspect of our lives. When I began with VIRGO, over 11 years ago, our event registration was cumbersome and slow. Long on-site registration lines plodded along. Registration terminals were not networked; badges were rudimentary and exhibitor lead retrieval was not in existence.

For three years now, VIRGO has been outsourcing our event registration process to an outside vendor. It has proven to be a great decision. The entire on-site registration experience dramatically improved. Attendee's biggest concern is waiting in lines and the technology has all but eliminated them. I am proud to say it is the number one compliment we receive! The badge itself has greatly improved allowing our exhibitors to capture attendee contact information without the traditional passing of business cards.

Keeping up with technology can be expensive and time consuming but it is necessary to stay on track and lead with cutting edge advancements. I am excited to talk about our new initiatives for 2012!

Currently, bar-coded attendee confirmation must be printed and scanned at our on-site terminals to retrieve badges. We are updating the bar code readers to accommodate smart phone screens to read and print your badge. This will eliminate the need to print the confirmation supporting our green initiatives to go paperless.

We also are developing a quick register feature within our on-line registration process. Many attendees are repeat customers who engage with VIRGO throughout the year. This feature will allow them to skip a few steps of the on-line registration process by not asking for contact and demographic information we already have.

How you spend your time at our expo is important to us. We're working to understand your on-site habits by tracking which event and sessions you attend, which allow us to engage with you in the future and speak specifically to what interests you!

We take the customer registration experience seriously and are continually making advances to offer you the best user interface to maximize your business investment.

Happy New Year! Cheers!

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Kelly Ridley - Executive Vice President, CFO

Looking Ahead

Well, here we are with 2012 right around the corner. It will certainly be a monumental year for me personally, as my twin girls will graduate from high school and go off to college, an empty nest all at once.

At VIRGO, we are also heading for a monumental year, as we create the results-driven information journey that gives our customers (our readers, users and attendees) the information they need at each stage of their journey by aligning the content within the context of the delivery vehicle our customers will be engaging with and offering trustworthy guidance on the decisions they need to make—be that early in their decision-making process, while making a purchase decision, or following the decision when a product, service or ingredient is being used. By providing relevant content to our customers and consequently creating a high level of engagement, we are able to provide high quality leads to our clients (advertisers, sponsors, exhibitors and underwriters), serving as the filter between a highly qualified potential customer, and the clients that want to reach them.

I am so proud and thankful to be part of the VIRGO team. I am surrounded by innovative, driven and enthusiastic professionals, who are aligned to create this information journey for the benefit of our customers and clients. Whether it be the Editor working to obtain and articulate information relevant to our customers or the Account Director sharing detailed information about the various products that VIRGO can provide to meet our clients' needs, VIRGO employees share a common goal and passion for their work.

Check out the new "What's Hot" website launched in 2011 around our SupplySide West event. A "What's Hot" website will be launched for SupplySide Marketplace as well, which will be held May 8 – 10, 2012 at an exciting new location, Javits Center in New York City.

The "What's Hot" site will allow SupplySide participants to engage with the event pre-show, during the show and post-show and will feature Q&A's from select show exhibitors, recommendations for "must-attend" educational sessions, and a live Twitter feed with up-to-the-minute show information. During SupplySide Marketplace, the site will include highlights from popular education sessions and workshops, live blogging from the content and executive team with updates from the show floor, and an insider's look into what's hot from the hundreds of suppliers exhibiting at the show.

SupplySide Marketplace attendees can visit the site after the event to view slide shows featuring exhibitors, education sessions and networking events, and for post-show recaps and highlights.

Visit our Channel Partners' show website to find out ‘What's New in 2012". The Channel Partners Conference & Expo is the communications industry's only event designed exclusively for indirect sales organizations – agents, VARs, systems integrators, interconnects and consultants – focused on transforming their businesses to become converged solutions providers. Held twice a year, in Las Vegas and an alternate location, The Channel Partners Conference & Expo is earning praise from indirect sales partners and their suppliers as a one-of-a-kind, high-value networking and educational event for the channel community.

Our SurgiStrategies brand is making some changes to benefit our audience. In order to deliver content to its readers in the ways – and at the times – they wish to receive it, SurgiStrategies is changing to a quarterly thematic print model (February: Compliance Matters, May: Infection Matters, August: Money Matters, November: Management Matters). The remaining eight months will feature supporting content via online thematic digital issues structured around the industry's hottest topics. The unique opportunities for SurgiStrategies' marketing partners to connect with readers will increase dramatically, with a plethora of key positioning and branding programs to help sponsors capitalize on ROI.

A manifold increase in online opportunities allows SurgiStrategies to repeatedly engage its readers, nurturing them through a deeper content relationship than afforded by a traditional print magazine that's mailed and possibly lost in the heap of similar offerings. Each month, numerous proprietary content offerings will be available to site users – allowing SurgiStrategies to bring in new readers, as well as catering to its existing audience. In essence, SurgiStrategies readers will be ushered through their decision-making process via the content provided. This builds a higher level of interaction and, in turn, more effective means in which to connect valued sponsors with their customers. With VIRGO's focus on performance marketing, we ensure our audience has the opportunity to use each valued content asset to make informed purchasing decisions.

Look at all of the benefits offered with our new Inside Self-Storage membership. The Inside Self-Storage Membership Program brings together the best in industry informational resources as well as products and services to be successful in the self-storage business. We have hand-crafted the membership packages to meet the needs of self-storage owners as well as self-storage managers. With three package levels from which to choose, facility managers and owners can select the benefits that best meet their operational needs. Any level of professional in the business can benefit from the educational resources found in the Manager Pro package, while top-level decision-makers can receive extensive marketing and human resources benefits as part of the Business Marketing and Total Business packages. Packages include education, publications, insurance discounts, marketing services, human resources services and more. This membership program is brand new and will be a great benefit to our readers, users and attendees. Visit our FAQ page or contact Teri Lanza at or (480) 990-1101 x-1213 for more information.

A new year always brings new things and I am looking forward to all of the new things VIRGO will bring as we create our results-oriented information journey with our customers, clients and employees in 2012!

Kelly Ridley
Executive Vice President, CFO

José Copado - Chief Developer

Happy Holidays

Time sure moves fast when you are having fun. The holidays are here, Christmas is just a few days away and 2012 is just around the corner, so I thought this would be a good time to go over some of major projects the web department worked on in 2011.

For VIRGO, content is king, everything starts with content, therefore the majority of our projects revolve around this core tenet:

Reports, Digital Issues, and White papers.
Reports, Digital Issues, and White papers were completely revamped to give users an easier way to get to the information that they need.

Solution Centers.
Solution Centers were created as micro-sites that aggregate different types of content, like white papers, case studies and videos. You can see some examples of this type of content here.

Content Libraries.
Content Libraries showcase feature content, in pdf format, organized into topics. We currently have libraries for Food Product Design, Infection Control Today, Renal Business Today and EndoNurse.

SupplySide Community.
In May of 2011, we launched SupplySide Community. The goal of this project was to create an environment, in a blog format, that enables attendees of SupplySide to connect with each other all year long. Stay tuned for more communities to be launched in 2012.

SupplySide Store.
The SupplySide Store was launched in November, 2011. SupplySide Store delivers the information attendees and exhibitors of SupplySide need, including: On-Demand Video of SupplySide Education Sessions, Training Workbooks from SupplySide Education Sessions and Special Industry Reports. We are expecting more of these types of stores to be launched in 2012 across our different industries.

Ingredient Buying Center.
Our newest addition, Ingredient Buying Centers, will aim to give users a way to download our most important Buyer's Guide data in pdf format. We are currently working on this project and we expect our first Ingredient Buying Center to be released in January 2012.

We are looking forward to 2012 with a lot of excitement, if 2011 is any indication of what is to come then I'm sure 2012 will be very exciting.

Happy holidays!!!

José Copado
Chief Developer

Larry Lannon - Group Publisher, Communications Network

Business, Competition and Our Information Strategy

"Everyone has a plan, until they get hit."

A master of language and thought, boxer Mike Tyson is not. Nevertheless, in his sole memorable phrase, Tyson successfully fingered the essence of competition. Like boxing, business is competition in which even the best plans must be forged, challenged and reforged in the withering heat of the marketplace. Success means adapting good plans to changing circumstances and mustering will, brains and information to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.

Telecommunications is a contact sport. Companies buy and sell one another, develop new services and business models, launch and fold at a dizzying speed. Consumers have choices and are quick to exercise their freedom to move to another if they are displeased here or find a more attractive offering there. In the channel, partners who are not systematically diversifying their services and reviewing their business models are also probably not sleeping well this holiday season.

Like boxing, telecom competition has rules, but the competitors are free to hit one another as hard and often as they can within those rules, which they do. Like boxing, competitive discipline rewards the strong and agile, and inflicts immediate pain on the weak and less agile.

The Communications Networks' three brands – Channel Partners, the network's heavyweight – and the two service provider brands – V2M and B/OSS – are an important source of the competitive, difference-making professional information our telecom readers and clients need to win the next round. Our mission is to provide the results-driven information that helps each reader and client stay on its toes today and stay on its feet for the full match.

Recent examples illustrate how we work to meet our audience's competitive needs.

B/OSS, for instance, late last month published a Digital Issue on "The End of Passive Network Management." As B/OSS Editor-in-Chief Tim McElligott puts it, "...managing the new network will both require and allow more aggressive analytic approaches – in other words, a whole new beginning for network management. The amount of data, the depth of data mining techniques and the superior intelligence of new analytics solutions will soon match the ‘wow factor' of smartphones and tablets as networks become self-healing and have the flexibility and intelligence to deliver bandwidth where and when it is needed."

V2M prowls the same service provider world as B/OSS – but out on the edge, where fortunes can be made and lost in a flicker, where the corporate digital giants and the OTT app developers drink from the same water holes, not always peacefully.

V2M last month published a Report on "Top Trends in 4G," the next big wave in wireless broadband, rolling onto a beach near you right now. V2M Editor-in-Chief Tara Seals summarized the challenge network operators face now in the V2M Opportunity Analysis: "As 4G is claiming global momentum...operators in 2012 will be faced with weighing their best strategic approaches for addressing several unavoidable, fundamental changes that are being driven into their businesses. Some are putting off such conversations and instead focusing on the nuts and bolts of the actual rollouts, which could be a crippling mistake in the long run."

Channel Partners is following the same strategy of coming to grips with the audience's decisive business issues. Late last month, Channel Partners published a Report on transformation. "A New Partner Model for New Times: A Special Report on Transformation" addresses this fundamental question: "Last spring I published a blog titled 'An Obituary for The Transactional Agent,' which struck a nerve with channel partners," explained Editor-in-Chief Khali Henderson. "While many readers agreed with the sentiment, some agents joked about their impending death. Perhaps they disagreed with my diagnosis of their deteriorating health, or perhaps their humor masked a bit of fear or at least uncertainty. Could, in fact, their current business style, which has served them very well for many years, be their undoing?"

In addition, next year Khali will expand the Peer-to-Peer dialog, long a part of our two annual events, into a year-long information-based interaction among the leading activists in the agent community. These discussions will result in specific work products that Channel Partners will provide to the entire channel ecosystem, and include an important face-to-face element at our events in 2012.

Competition is exhilarating and exhausting. In the telecom industry, there is no such thing as a casual competitor. Which brings me back to boxing for a second.

When Joe Frazier fought Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1971, they fought on equal terms for 13 ferocious rounds. Late in the 14th round, Frazier landed a left hook and put Ali on his back. As the round ended, Ali got up before he could be counted out. Ali's right jaw was grotesquely deformed, as if he had suddenly had a baseball inserted in it, and obviously broken.

Broken, beaten, with no hope now of winning the match, Ali came out for the 15th and final round against a merciless Frazier. Ali survived the round, lost the decision, and was rushed to a hospital where he spent a well publicized day recovering. Frazier briefly celebrated his victory, and then quietly checked into another hospital where he spent five unpublicized days recovering.

Frazier had won the match. Had he won the competition? The two champions fought twice more trying to decide the question themselves.

Our telecom audiences are locked in competition less violent, not less intense. Information – along with brains and will – are essential elements to their success. Which is why our work is important, and our content strategy appropriate to the telecom markets we serve.

Larry Lannon
Group Publisher, Communications Network

John Siefert • CEO

The Results-Driven Information Journey

Everything we do at VIRGO starts with content.

We then align that content to fit the information journey our customers (our readers, users and attendees) go through while making a purchasing decision. Our goal is to create a results-driven information journey that gives our customers the information they need at each stage of the journey while we also align that content with special advertising and sponsorship programs for our clients (advertisers, sponsors, exhibitors and underwriters) that has us serving as the filter between a highly qualified potential customer and the clients that want to reach them.

Sounds pretty straightforward and simple right? Well, even though it is very logical, the work behind it is quite complex.

Let's consider the different stages of a standard decision making process. Granted, the process is customized based on what is being purchased, is often not fully linear, and maps to the unique needs and management rhythms of any given company.

But in general this is what a customer's journey looks like:

  1. Setting Strategy: At this point, our customers are very early in their decision making journey — they are thinking about the long term potential of what a purchase can mean for their business. It could be a new ingredient that a packaged goods company wants to integrate into a healthy product, or a new video offering a service provider wants to offer their customers, or even a new piece of dialysis equipment for a renal care center. In all cases, this is the moment when the decision makers are considering a new investment that could strategically enable the business to grow, shift or realign with the market and customers/patients they serve. We see our customers engaging with our magazines, attending our events, webinars and using our un-gated content on the websites when they are at this stage — but they may also look to our paid content (such as education sessions at our live events and on-demand video content in our stores).
  2. Research and Immersion: At this stage, our customers are getting into their process, and looking for a depth of content that that can give them the details necessary to understand the impact of the purchase. They are looking for real world perspective and insight, along with good quantitative statistics and analytics. A customer at this stage of the journey is much more apt to register for, and download, gated, premium content because of the value it adds to their decision process. Further, they are often looking to engage with peers who have researched similar projects or investments, which frequently means engaging in social media or digital communities to gain perspective. We see our customers engaging with our analyst reports, thematic digital issues, events, content libraries, immersion centers and communities aggressively at this stage.
  3. Evaluating Options: As the reader, user or attendee customer starts to analyze their potential options, they need to evaluate those options on an even playing field. At this point in the journey, they are looking for reviews of products, vendor/supplier data and product information, evaluating the stability of the sellers and examining the value of the goods they may purchase. To ensure they are looking at all possible options, they often do detailed searches online, spend a lot of time on vendor/provider websites and try to find third party data to validate suppliers' claims. Another issue here is R&D spends from the companies they are potentially buying from — so they can see how increased spends on research may have a direct correlation to the price they are willing to pay for the goods. Our customers at this point spend a lot of time with the buyers' guides, buying centers and solution centers we create for our clients. This is also a key time to attend an event or tradeshow because the buyers and influencers can see many options quickly and conveniently in one place.
  4. Final Decision: As a customer nears the point of purchase, he or she has aligned their strategy with the research and options they have evaluated, and are often looking to validate their decision. They will look for case studies or customer reference material that shows the real world use or integration of an ingredient, product or solution that can be compared to their strategic scenario. Knowing all situations are different, they will also look for paid education content from thought leaders and practitioners in the market, as they look to solidify the decision and rationalize their choice. At this critical final stage in the journey, our customers count on our on demand video content that gives this level of validation, @work case studies we create for our clients, education sessions at our events and on our community sites where they can connect with their peers and our thought leaders.

Throughout this information journey, VIRGO offers deep content to help our reader, user and attendee customers get the results they are looking for. But we do not stop there. We also create highly integrated and customized programs for the vendors and suppliers we work with that serve the industries we work in—Health and Nutrition, Medical, Communications and Self Storage. We outline programs that enable our clients to have a presence throughout this journey via advertising, sponsorship, underwriting and exhibit space at our events.

Further, we offer lead nurturing and scoring programs that show the client exactly who has engaged with what information through their journey, so the client can follow up with them appropriately — enabling the best opportunity to be the supplier our reader, user and attendee customers choose when they make their all-important purchasing choices.

I would be very happy to help outline this for you in more detail if you are one of our customers (reader, user, attendee) or one of our clients (advertiser, sponsor, exhibitor or underwriter), and make sure that whichever side you work on, we can create a results-driven information journey that meets your needs and achieves your goals.

Drop me a line…let's talk this stuff through.

John Siefert

John LyBarger, Information Technology Director

The View Out Our Window: Thankful for Technology

It's not unusual to give thanks this time of year, and with Thanksgiving this Thursday, it seemed a good time to offer thanks for mobile technology and how its "Magic" has enhanced and made our lives easier. Not to get too geeky, but Wikipedia describes Magic in programming terms as code that handles complex tasks while hiding that complexity to present a simple interface. The example that comes immediately to mind is my Apple iPad and iPhone, which many of us at VIRGO use daily to help manage our complex responsibilities. These devices provide an easy-to-use interface; but, underneath the glass is an amazing technology that ties it all together. Honestly, at this point, I think if I forgot my iPhone at home, I'd need to turn around and get it—it's just that much a part of me. (Perhaps it's time for an intervention...)

VIRGO has embraced mobile technology with brands and sites including and Today's mobile technology has come a long way. If the mobile technology industry was a country, its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would be 13th in the world. Analysts estimate mobile technology will see about $1.3 trillion in revenue this year. That is about 2 percent of the global GDP. I can remember a time when I was one of the first of my friends to have a cell phone; that version is now referred to as the brick, and you certainly weren't going to carry that puppy in your pocket. The only thing you could do with it was make a phone call. Mobile devices today can provide a multitude of applications with the touch of the finger. You can conference with the office, surf the web, play music, take pictures, record video and find your location with GPS. Or you can spend most of your time in Facebook like my kids.

The next innovation coming to mobile technology is the ability to use Mobile-Payment utilizing NFC (Near Field Communication). The idea is to allow for simplified transactions between two devices in proximity to each other, usually no more than a few centimeters away, to avoid cash, checks and to settle all debts, public as well as private, with your Smartphone. The public part seems pretty straight forward; the private is something altogether new. I'll give you an example. I don't carry a lot of cash; I don't think anyone really does these days. If I were out with some friends and needed to pay one of them back I would simply enter the amount on my phone and "bump" phones, effectively transfering the funds from my account to theirs. Google uses the Google Wallet on the Android and Apple has already submitted a patent application to use Mobile-Payment for the iPhone. Mobile-Payment transactions is reported to top 170 billion by 2015.

I'm curious, are you ready for Mobile-Payment? I put a quick poll together to find out.

Whether you're a technology lover like me, or simply someone who has found Angry Birds to be a great distraction while waiting for a meeting to begin, it's easy to appreciate how mobile devices have helped us integrate and streamline our responsibilities and enhance our communications. And now, give them thanks, turn them off (or put them on silent) and spend some time with your friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

John LyBarger
Information Technology Director

Twitter: @johnlybarger
LinkedIn: John Lybarger

By Troy Bix, Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

The View From Our Window: Evolving to Meet Our Audience's Needs

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the business model in the self-storage industry evolve as the maturation of the business cycle has changed. While the industry has been in construction mode for several decades, it has now evolved to focus more on offering a quality and safe facility along with exceptional customer service.

There are thousands of self-storage operators who’ve built these fantastic facilities and now they’re in dire need of education and knowledge in how to run their businesses. They’re seeking information on legal issues, taxes, marketing, efficiencies and technology.

This is where the ISS brand comes into play. We can deliver the information to self-storage owners and operators so they will be better at what they do. We are the information franchise, the education franchise for the self-storage market. To meet our audience’s needs, we’re  changing our model from a vendor-based-type of education and exposure to focusing on owners and operators and being their education hub. This will include more international focus at our annual Las Vegas expo, promoting the ISS Membership program, additional online content including reports, whitepapers and slideshows, and a new legal seminar.

Rather than offering two tradeshows a year, the Inside Self-Storage World Expo will maintain it’s spring date in Las Vegas. With one show a year, we’ll be able to focus all our efforts on a national and international world expo. This will also enable us to offer more in-depth seminars, workshops and networking opportunities.

Part of our education emphasis going forward will be on two very important aspects of running a self-storage business: being efficient and embracing technology. Operators need to learn how to run their businesses more efficiently, to cut costs while still marketing and managing a successful facility. We’re showing them how to do this through articles and expo seminars.

Another key education component is new technology, which is vastly changing the way customers learn about and use self-storage. They’re going online and using social media to find self-storage so an online presence is a must for every operator. We’re teaching them how to take advantage of today’s technology including social media, kiosks, mobile marketing and online searches.

We emphasize these and many other topics in the ISS Membership program. Self-storage owners and managers now have the opportunity to get privileged information, resources and guidance though the ISS Membership program. Operators can choose from three tiers of packages: Manager Pro, Business Marketing or Total Business. Each tier offers unique information such as marketing and human resources assistance, ISS webinars, exclusive print and online products, and even an insurance coverage evaluation from one of today’s top insurance companies.

While the development side of the industry has slowed in America, the industry is experiencing growth in the international markets. Looking abroad to Europe, Asia, Canada, South America and Mexico, all of those international markets need a blueprint of what we have here in the States. Even though the cultures and languages vary, we can educate other countries on how they can parlay the U.S. industry’s success in their countries. We’ll do this by having a greater international influence at the ISS Expo with seminars and networking.

For example, the 2012 Vegas show will include the industry’s first-ever Spanish-speaking seminars. Going into 2013 and beyond, we’ll look at offering more seminars in different languages to better give the operators in those markets the education they need. Most importantly, we’ll invite vendors and owners and operators from those international markets to come to the show and share their stories and successes. This will allow U.S. vendors and operators to learn from international industry professionals as well. We’re going to invest in those markets to learn  how they do what they do.

In addition to the annual Vegas expo, we’re also launching a Legal Learning Roadshow with industry attorney Jeff Greenberger. Legal is the fastest growing seminar topic at our shows. The Roadshow will offer information on lien laws, divorce rights, death rights, tenant bankruptcy—all those sorts of things so we can keep the owners and operators out of court and make sure they’re abiding by the law and doing the right thing for their tenants. Jeff will provide the content and we’ll provide the marketing. We’ll do this three or four times in 2012 at select locations around the country, with the first stop in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Jan. 13. It’s basically another way to provide service of education on the legal side of self-storage for our readership.

Our audience is also clamoring for more online education. To meet this need, ISS will offer several new online products in 2012 including more slideshows, reports, whitepapers and image galleries. We’ll provide more information on construction case studies, advances in software and security and management topics—all designed to give owners and operators the tools and resources to run a better and more successful business.

Our online products are second to none with our number of page views and unique visitors. And it’s not just the ISS website that gains a lot of attention. The Self-Storage Talk forum is growing at a rapid pace. It just reached the 4,500-member mark and we expect it to gain even more traction in 2012. The forum is a great example of an ISS offering that really delivers. It’s a place where managers, owners, investors and vendors can talk online any time of day, any day on really anything storage related. Forum topics include securing your site, background checks, things they can do to become more efficient, lien sales and marketing ideas. It’s just exploding in the industry because this is an education-hungry crowd. They’re seeking ideas and new means to become better owners and operators and we’re providing those products and services.

At the end of the day, that’s our goal. We want to provide our audience with the education and ideas to help them be better owners and operators, which, in turn, will get them more customers. That’s really our job.

The goals for ISS in 2012 are many. Coming out of the box, we want to make the Legal Learning Roadshow a success by providing legal information to the owners and operators in specific  geographic areas. We plan to deliver the best ISS World Expo ever and deliver a more international base of customers for our vendors and provide the best education content to all of our attendees. Moving into the year, ISS is looking at how we can parlay the Roadshow to feature other relevant industry topics such as marketing, management training, security and software.

ISS will continue to evolve  as the industry and our audience’s needs evolve. We have our finger on the pulse of the industry. We’ll adapt and deliver what the industry needs as it goes through this business cycle. Our ultimate goal is to help our audience be successful.

Troy Bix
Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

John Muehling – VP, Marketing

The View From Our Window

Autumn has finally arrived in Arizona; a confirmation I received while sitting at my daughter's soccer game over the weekend, bundled up in a sweatshirt and long pants, and still chilled by the wind. Fall means a lot of things for Arizonans; a break from thermometer-busting temps, the changing of leaves in the high country, golf courses in their prime, the annual influx of seasonal visitors and the occasional smell of a burning fireplace. But for all of us, fall also means the beginning of that old familiar barrage of holiday marketing. It seems to start earlier every year; the television ads, billboards on the freeways, postcards and flyers in your mailbox and on your windshield at the mall, email in your inbox, and jingles on the's the most wonderful time of the year...or is it?

Many marketers sing a slightly different tune this time of year, goes a little like..."it's the most challenging time of the year". That's because this is the time of year when marketplace "noise" reaches its pinnacle and breaking through that noise becomes a far more difficult task. This challenge is shared by B2C and B2B marketers, as the noise doesn't stop when you walk into your office, it simply gets added to the noise business people navigate everyday (as my colleague Larry Lannon pointed out in his blog earlier this year). It can, however, present an extra challenge for the B2B marketers who have yet to discover the value of content and its importance to successful marketing.

We talk a lot about content here at VIRGO, and for good reason; we are an information distribution company, content is the lifeblood of what we do. Throughout the year, in just about every hour of every day, our editorial teams are producing fresh content, taking form in articles, blogs, special reports, digital issues, slideshows, educational materials, even video. Content gives our audiences a year-round reason to engage, enabling a rapport that virtually eliminates seasonally-based challenges, making us a valuable and trusted, on-demand resource.

So, what marketer do you know who doesn't love content? For B2B marketers, content is one of the two main ingredients of success (data being the other). For VIRGO marketing teams, content helps us nurture our B2B buyer audiences, helping them navigate their buying cycles and ultimately make better decisions for their businesses. This nurturing process knows no season, is not affected by the ebbs and flows of marketplace noise, and is part of a larger Demand Generation effort - the process of creating demand for a product or service through the delivery of consistent and relevant information. VIRGO Demand Generation programs take a slightly different approach, as the demand we are creating is for our content, not for a specific product or service. However, for our clients, who align themselves with this content, through one of our many underwriting opportunities, this process generates the leads they need to drive sales and growth.

So, what time of year is it for you and your business? Is it time for a marketing "ramp-up" in an effort to breakthrough the noise, or is it simply the end of another calendar year? More importantly, think about what time of year it is for your audiences, your customers, and your prospects. Is it the time of year when they experience a barrage of marketing from your company, looking for ways to earn more business? Or is it just another season, after which they may be a little heavier from the holiday feasts, a little happier from holiday cheer and a little more engaged because you stayed focused on providing them the resources they needed to better their business and left the noisemaking up to your competition?

John Muehling
VP, Marketing

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

The View From Your Window

What does a day in your work life look like? What are the questions and challenges that keep you up at night? What information or ideas would really help you? And where can you find those solutions? These are the questions that we ask ourselves all the time here at Virgo. Understanding the answers to these questions is how we focus everything we do on the needs of our audience. And by "our audience" I mean you.

From the lab-coated food scientist, to the overworked supply-chain manager, to the strategic-minded CEO to the visionary entrepreneur, our audience is made up of individuals. Each of you has different perspectives, different responsibilities, different informational needs, and different preferences for how you get the answers and solutions you want. As a truly cutting-edge information distribution company, we understand this, and we have built our entire strategy around it. We are committed to seeing your world from your window, and providing the resources you need to thrive in that world. It's very exciting stuff.

Over the past several months, I've spent a lot of time talking with people who read our magazines, attend our events, download our reports, sponsor our programs, speak at our shows, and supply goods and technologies to our industries. I've learned a lot about what a day in the life looks like for all of these individuals, and how we can make things that much better. I've shared our strategic thinking with these same people, and the incredible response confirms that we are on the right path. By putting you and your needs at the center of our content distribution strategy, we are changing the way that business-to-business media is done. In addition to better serving our audience, this approach is also better serving our advertisers, sponsors and exhibitors. We are offering more efficient, more strategic, and more accountable marketing solutions, and that is a good thing for everyone.

If you would like to learn more about our very unique approach, I'd like to talk about it with you. Our thinking is very innovative and might just change the way you think about business-to-business marketing, communications and strategy. I'd also like to learn more about the view from your window and hear your answers to the questions I posed a the beginning of this blog. What are things like in your professional world? And how can we best serve you and help you achieve your goals? The old model for information distribution was frequently a monologue, with the media deciding what information to send to you, when to send it, and how to send it. What we are doing here at Virgo is very much a dialogue, with listening to you being at least as important as speaking to you. Sound interesting? Drop me a line at or call me at +1 (480) 990-1101 ext 1108 and let's talk about it.

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Heather Granato, Group Editorial Director, Health & Nutrition Network

The View From a Window … in Las Vegas

Fifteen years ago, a group of forward-thinking nutrition industry executives gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona. While they had been attending much larger retail-focused trade events, this was something new—an event focused on the supply end of the industry. Buyers and sellers of nutritional ingredients made connections as they situated their companies to take full advantage of the late 1990s interest in dietary supplements, health foods and natural products. Earlier this month, from October 10 to 14, more than 9,700 executives from leading nutraceutical, food and beverage, and personal care companies convened at the Venetian and Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas for the 15th Annual SupplySide West. More than 1,300 booths, 100+ hours of educational opportunities, high-level networking and plenty of business connections delivered value to an industry that continues to grow, even in the face of economic recession.

Immediately before the show, I was meeting with our CEO, John Siefert, and my long-time friend and colleague Jon Benninger, the vice president of business development for our Health & Nutrition Network. We were discussing how to help our industry and customers grasp the fantastic opportunities ahead of them, and how we are positioning our content strategies to help them get there. It's a great exercise that we're applying across our networks at VIRGO to make the strongest possible connections with our industries.

For example, in the health and nutrition space, consider the various market drivers such as the aging Baby Boomers seeking ways to stay healthy and active; the health care crisis in the United States inspiring more preventive and do-it-yourself care; and the obesity epidemic feeding increases in related degenerative conditions (diabetes, heart disease) even among children. In looking at the market, it's apparent that consumers want healthier alternatives that will promote longevity, increase their sense of well-being and deliver results. It can be seen everywhere from McDonald's revamp of Happy Meals, to Dr. Weil's affiliation with Estee Lauder for the Origins brand, and into the expansion of GNC—the leading global retailer of dietary supplements—to 7,500 stores with plans to open larger format stores and extend its customer reach.

What's the common factor? Companies seeking out nutritional, multi-functional ingredients to develop these healthier products that meet consumer expectations. We offer these solutions through our brands:

As mentioned earlier, concerns about the future of the health care system are driving consumers to explore more preventive options. This doesn't mean only looking for information online, but increasingly turning to health care professionals—from naturopaths and dietitians to chiropractors and pharmacists—for information on a more holistic approach. Integrative Healthcare Insider is VIRGO's platform delivering those details to health care providers so they are equipped to answer consumers' questions.

As the group editorial director in the Health & Nutrition Network, I'm excited about how we are aligning our content with our audience's needs. I know my editorial counterparts in VIRGO's other Networks are equally pleased with how the focus on our five key tenets—Content, Audience, Brands, User Experience and Performance Marketing—is helping all of us focus our efforts to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time. The opportunities are there; I hope you'll be there with us.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Danielle Dunlap, Vice President, Marketing Services

The View From Our Window: At Our Fingertips

In my previous blog, I waxed nostalgically about the yesteryears of print production and how far we've come from there. Since that time, my role in the company has evolved and now encompasses overseeing all of our media operations. Obviously it's not just in the print arena that VIRGO has advanced itself and kept ourselves up to speed in this ever-changing world in which we live in. As the world of print has moved irrevocably towards digital media where content can update within minutes, it's no longer a ‘news-that's-fit-to-print' society, but a ‘news-that's-available-(literally) with-the-touch-of- a-fingertip' one. With the deluge of information that is floating out there, it's easy to miss certain stories or news that is relevant to your market, but with VIRGO's focus on our 5 tenets we have made great strides in bringing you the most important information you, as our audience, need for your market as well as you, our client, need to inform your market. One of the ways we are accomplishing that is through Marketing Services. VIRGO has created a series of customized products that engage our audience at different points along their decision making journey that include in-depth reports, thematic digital issues, webinars and custom content that we create for you.

With the recent passing of Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, I've been thinking over the great leaps in technology made just since the beginning of the new millennium. At the start of the 00's I didn't even own a cell phone; now I can't imagine life without my iPhone. I was shopping for a new computer monitor the other day and was convinced one of the models was broken because I kept touching the screen and nothing would happen. Of course after a couple of minutes of fruitless jabbing and muttering about said monitor's questionable technological ancestry, I looked down at the product description and realized that it wasn't one of those types of monitors and very casually moved along lest anyone catch me almost putting a fingernail through the poor thing. Though I doubt I'm not the only one that that's happened to (that's my story and I'm sticking to it), it just underscores how quickly technology is moving. Tablets were merely a wicked cool prop on Star Trek back in the early 90's (along with flat panel touch screens!), now they're revolutionizing computing as we know it. With more and more people jumping on the tablet bandwagon (I, for one, am very excited to see the Kindle Fire when it's released next month), it'll be fun to see how long before the next great technological invention comes down the pike.

Which reminds me, where's my flying car? I was promised flying cars.

Danielle Dunlap
Vice President, Marketing Services

Dolly Ahles, Executive Director, Art

Change…Adapt, Avoid Assimilation

Change, it's about all I have on my mind lately. As I get older it slaps me in the face daily. As I look around me, I am constantly adapting... to the influx of news that bombards me from various forms of media; to an amazing onslaught of new technology; to "Wholly mackerel, what does 2012 hold for us?" I personally have been one who has always thought that change is good. Initially, I may not have thought so, but often, in retrospect, it pans out to be true. And maybe it's all a matter of my own positive perspective, but "what the hey", my perspective is what gets me though the day.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."Charles Darwin

You might think I looked up this quote on the web for this very purpose. But in a very serendipitous way I knew that ‘change' was going to be the topic of my blog. Last Saturday afternoon, as I browsed though the movies on Netflix, I came across a movie called Hunter Prey. A seemingly low budget film that barely held my attention for the first 10 minutes, but it was Sci-fi, so I had to give it a chance. And there it was: Charles Darwin's quote right on the screen… yes the very thought that had been on my mind…change…and my topic for my blog. Isn't it funny how things work? And by the way, although I would not whole-heartedly recommend Hunter Prey, it did have some thought provoking dialog between the main characters, just in case you were curious.

So, wow, change…my VIRGO life has many avenues of change, and challenges me daily to adapt. Recently we were very excited to announce the release of the first mobile application for a VIRGO event! The SupplySide West mobile app is available for download for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry & HTML. This mobile app will help serve as an interactive planning tool for SupplySide West attendees and exhibitors, as well as a year-long reference of their show experience. This is very cool. The SupplySide West Show is this week, and as you can imagine with 1300+ booths, it is going to be something! Please be sure to check it out. Here's a sneak peek to see What's hot for the show.

In the vein of the latest technology, Mobile Healthcare Today has compiled a slide show on the most noteworthy of new tablets for the second half of 2011, giving our customer's the most up to date info.

Our Inside Self-Storage magazine has a new membership signup that offers our members valuable information to be more successful, and to help take their business to the next level. Yes, another advancement to benefit our customers.

And last, but not least, Vision2Mobile presented a slide show on the life of Steve Jobs. Ah, thank you Mr. Jobs for the Macintosh, and all the other wonderful innovations you have given us. Although I now work on a PC, there will always be a place in my heart for a Mac. It was my beloved student computer when I first learned desktop publishing. And I did chuckle in reviewing this slideshow when the Commodore 64 was mentioned. On it I learned an animation program, which in looking back that purchase would have been huge waste of money. But, I digress, may God bless Mr. Jobs and his family for their loss, and ours. And I will leave you with this thought from Steve Jobs…

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." [Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

Dolly Ahles
Executive Director, Art

John Siefert - CEO

Content as a Self Fulfilling Filter (with a splash of performance marketing and social)

As I push nearly two decades of working in this business, I have seen the importance of "content'" come in and out of vogue when people think about the value of a media/information distribution company and its brands. I have also seen the rise of powerful social groups and networks feed this process where people go from reading a magazine or visiting a website, to asking the questions they want answered and link to an article in a social media platform. I think the new reality is somewhere in the middle,

I believe that one thing will remain constant: content will always be the best "filter" in determining if an audience is engaged or not.

Let me give you a couple of examples to this point:

One of our brands at VIRGO is called Infection Control Today. It focuses on the real and global issues of preventing infection within healthcare institutions. Read by doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners, ICT focuses on both the strategic and the practical approaches to infection prevention. In fact, we also do quantitative research, analyst reports, slide show presentations and more for our audience—all of which perform a specific task in helping this audience make the proper purchase and policy decisions for their environment.

This year we have seen incredible traffic and registration numbers on the site—with report downloads and slides show views in multiples of 10 thousand, not to mention our consistent article and news analysis traffic.

Why? Was it some incredible marketing promotion? No. Was it the newest craze in social media? No.

The reality is, our social media presence on LinkedIn and Twitter play a role, and we use performance marketing triggers to help folks find the content. But the decisive fact is that the content we create means something to this audience—and the audience has built a level of trust in our team/brand to help them through their important decisions. Content, therefore, served as the self fulfilling filter defining whether or not the audience is engaged.

Another example of this principle can be seen in our Health and Nutrition Network, with a new brand we launched this year called Integrative Healthcare Insider. IHI is focused on helping medical practitioners understand the evolving integrative space, as MDs and other practitioners look to natural supplements as an alternative to prescription drugs The site, which is primarily based on registration based premium content, has experienced a nice uptick since launch, without much traditional audience development.

Instead, we have focused on building partnerships with industry leading experts, providing them with a platform to share their perspective and content. Coupled with our unique content, this has created an impressive "organic" approach to driving our new database of readers/users. In fact, we recently launched a program with the vendor Pure Encapsulations which includes a whitepaper that reached its registration goals within weeks— instead of the months that we had originally anticipated.

Similar to ICT, but with a much newer brand, we have been using performance marketing triggers and some social media for Integrative Healthcare Insider. But the real reason for our growth is based on the content we are creating and organizing for this audience. So even with a new brand launch, content is the self fulfilling filter to ensure the right people are engaging, and that content is and will always be complemented by smart use of performance marketing and social network triggers.

After two decades working in this field, I am convinced that content always must be at the nucleus of our strategy. Great content is the great constant in the equation. Content engages the audience, and serves as the self fulfilling filter essential to defining engagement. Supported by performance marketing and social networks -- these new, powerful contemporary communications engines -- the impact of great content is multiplied.

I'd be happy to go deeper on this with you, if you'd like to discuss…just get me on Twitter @johnksiefert.

John Siefert

Heather L. Wood, SPHR, Vice President, Human Resources

The View Inside Our Window

As I sit at my desk preparing to write this blog, I suddenly realized that today is my 2nd anniversary with VIRGO.  Many people might think that celebrating two years at a company is trivial and not a big deal, but I am proud of my two years with VIRGO.

I have had the opportunity to be an integral part of the strategic team to help lead the Company in its evolution from a "publishing" company to an information distribution company.  In shepherding this transition, it is crystal clear that our employees are our greatest assets.  In a time where employees are expected to do more with less, our organization has also expected our employees to adapt to new leadership, a new vision, and new business models.  It is the ingenuity, drive, foresight and sheer determination of the people at VIRGO that have allowed the organization to come so far in such a short amount of time.  Obviously, all of the changes in such a short timeframe required some getting used to, but it seems like we are in the backward position of a slingshot right before you let it go and the ball takes off soaring across the field.  We are getting ready to propel forward as we see the networks, brands, events and products that our people have so tirelessly worked on over the past year gain momentum and flourish.

What an exciting time to be part of VIRGO!  I am glad to be part of this established, 25 year old, company as it reinvents itself and we continue to move through the various life cycle stages of an emerging company.  Not everyone has an opportunity during their career to be involved in organizational growth and evolution from the ground up.   I have seen and done a lot in two years and I can't wait to see what the future brings!

Heather L. Wood, SPHR
Vice President, Human Resources

Katherine Clements - VP, Medical & Communications Networks

Time to be grateful

In light of the 10-year anniversary of September 11th, there have been many news programs, blogs and other outlets discussing the aftermath of the events. At every turn, someone is analyzing some aspect of the events and how it relates to the world we live in now. On National Public Radio  one morning, they were discussing everything from pop culture and films influenced by 9/11, to honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice as a first responder in their "Reflecting on Sept. 11, 2001" series. One of the bloggers I follow regularly was there when the first tower fell and shared a fascinating account of the impacts of the events on her life and how she completely changed her outlook after 9/11.

As with most Americans, I can remember exactly where I was that horrible morning. I was in college at the time, living with roommates in Tempe, Ariz. As the early riser, I heard of the events first via text message, then turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center. 

I went to class numb, not knowing if our entire country was under attack or if the events were an accident. I remember sitting in my film class watching the news on the huge projection screens in the classroom. Although I didn't know any of the 2,819 people who lost their lives that day, it didn't take away from the sheer sorrow I felt for the victims and their families.

It's interesting that every day we get up, go to work and have no idea if things could change in an instant as they did for millions of people on Sept. 11, 2011. There are plenty of wise people who talk about the importance of living in the moment, but I think the events of 9/11 really underscored that for many of us. It's easy to take things for granted each day, but as we remember the tragedy of 9/11, it brings to the forefront the bigger questions in life: What is my purpose? What do I value most in life? What kind of legacy will I leave behind?

On this 10th anniversary of 9/11, I'm taking the time to be thankful, think about what's important to me, tell my family and friends how much I love them, and rededicate myself to living in the moment – grateful for each experience, opportunity and person I interact with along this journey.

As I reflect on all of the aspects of my life, I'm especially grateful to be a part of the VIRGO family. The people at VIRGO care about each other and create an environment that fosters innovation and productivity. We celebrate teamwork, in addition to personal successes. And it's easy to recognize our purpose for each of our brands and find value in the content we provide our audiences. The simplicity of finding purpose and joy in your work is rewarding.

The events of 9/11 changed our world forever. I hope the lasting impact on me is one of gratitude for the many blessings bestowed upon me each day.

Katherine Clements
Group Publisher, Medical Network

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

The View out our Window: ROI – ROI – ROI

The acronym ROI (Return On Investment) is readily used in my professional and personal life. I often don't realize how much ROI affects my personal spending habits. Upon some reflection, whether I am filling my car with gas, grocery shopping, vacationing, eating out, or buying a car, I am concerned about my ROI. I love to analyze the value of my purchase and let frugal ROI thoughts steer me into making the purchase or not. Add in our nation's economic climate and my natural frugal tendencies intensity.

In the events department of VIRGO, we are submerged in ROI. Much of our day is spent capturing new exhibitors and attendees for our events and each of these people are making the decision to participate based on ROI. Attendees are more critical and choosier than ever before – it's a new economic climate and the requirement to show value is contingent to our continued success and growth. Gone are the days of build it and they will come.

In spite of this change, I have noticed expo's are attracting the strongest attendee audiences we have ever seen. Why? Because times are a bit more serious and attendees are there to get business done. They have stepped up their performance "game" at trade shows and we, as show producers, need to stay ahead of the curve.

From a content perspective, our education managers diligently pursue top-notch speakers, stay abreast of hot industry topics, and build out a curriculum that offers the best education and training our industries have to offer. It's not enough to offer a concurrent education program, content needs to include training, partnering and networking. Content is one of VIRGO's core values and we are paving new ground in our approach to expo education. Take a look at our upcoming fall trade show web sites to view our exciting education content offerings (SupplySide West 2011, Inside Self-Storage Fall 2011).

Our exhibitors are also more discriminating when making a decision to exhibit at our events. They are simply asking for and requiring better ROI than ever before. We are continuously working to offer them the strongest live event, serving as a gathering place for buyers and sellers of goods, products and services. We recently created positions, within VIRGO, to help us cultivate and attract our best buyers/attendees. We have committed to a year-round customer service program dedicated to educate premium attendees what our live event community can offer their businesses. This practice is helping us yield a very rich attendee base for our live events – a sponsorship is often not as easy as a well positioned banner for an exhibitor any longer! Our latest innovative sponsorship opportunities offer year-round attendee engagement; sponsorship benefits begin months before our live events and continue well past. Companies are looking for a longer, richer engagement with potential leads and we're committed to delivering what they need.

It's an ROI world, both personally and professionally. I'm ok with it!

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Kelly Ridley - Executive Vice President, CFO

The View Inside Our Window: The Content Library – A Great New Resource for our Audience

I am really proud of the innovation at VIRGO and the desire to provide our readers, users and attendees with the content they want, in the context in which they choose to receive it. Content is the first of VIRGO's five key tenets; everything we do starts with the content we create for our audiences.

Our VIRGO Medical Network, along with our Web, Marketing Services, and Production and Art teams developed and recently launched a new resource for our audience: The Content Library. The Content Library is a collection of time-tested feature content organized into easy-to-navigate topics. Our users can access articles from our archives, complete the free online registration form and download any article in a PDF format, which they can then print, save or email. This new resource saves much needed time as our audience members face growing workloads. Rather than simply providing every article we have ever written, our editors have selected only "evergreen" content, those articles that are as useful to our audience today as they were when they were first published.

I always appreciate time-saving tools as I navigate through my decision-making responsibilities. Whenever I can access trusted information quickly, whenever I want to, I am extremely happy. I think back to my interning days in public accounting where I had the glorious task of updating the volumes of accounting manuals in 3-ring binders. Each day the mail would come with varying sizes of packages containing the 3-hole punched paper updates. You always had to make sure you started with the oldest update not yet filed, and perform the updates in sequence, taking out, replacing and adding the designated pages. Some binders would get extremely full making the task even more difficult. Loved getting my fingers pinched. But my task was nothing compared to that of the seasoned accountants who actually had to perform research by navigating these materials. And, what if an update wasn't promptly inserted in a binder?

VIRGO's easy-to-access content libraries are currently available for Infection Control Today, Renal Business Today and EndoNurse. Look for Content Libraries to roll out in VIRGO's other networks in the coming months.

In addition to providing value to our audience, our advertisers are able to sponsor topics in the content libraries and receive the leads as our users access the archived content to aid them in their decision-making process, whether that be early in the process, while making a purchase decision or following the decision when a product, service or ingredient is being used.

Look for continuing innovation as we focus on providing our readers, users and attendees with the content they want in the context in which they choose to receive it.

Kelly Ridley
Executive Vice President, CFO

José Copado - Chief Developer

The View Out Our Window: The Human Experience

Over the last few years, the amount of content on the web has exploded. With the help of a search engine, everything is available to you with a few clicks of the mouse and a few keystrokes. However, more often than not, identical information on news items and events can be found on thousands of sites around the web. So how do you differentiate yourself from other publishers? Here are some ideas that have been floating around: Build communities, add gamification to your sites and build strong content.

As publishers of content, we sometimes rely too much on social media to try to foster our communities, not focusing enough on our actual visitors. Communities have a lot of benefits for publishers, they increase the number of page views, the amount of time spent on your site, etc. One way to build communities on your site would be to revamp or add to how comment systems normally operate. Comment systems usually allow people to share their thoughts on a piece of content, the problem is that it is not engaging enough. By the time someone approves your comment or someone replies to your comment, you probably already left the web page. What we need is a way to build those comments in real time.

Real time conversation streams or Chats can help solve those problems. On a piece of content that you determine to be very important, a real time chat is set for a specific date and time, providing engagement. People who are members of your site get to chat and discuss about a topic that is of interest to them, all at the same time, discussing.

Another way to enhance the human experience and build communities would be to use gamification. Gamification does not mean to add games to your site, rather it means adding concepts of gamification to your site to increase engagement and collaboration.

One example of this would be to award customers with badges for onsite activities including watching videos, reading blog posts, writing reviews or posting comments. The idea is to turn visitors into engaged "gamers."

Gamification is getting a lot of traction nowadays and the evidence of this is a new start up called Badgeville whose objective is to add social gaming to websites. Here they are discussing their "Media and Publishing" solution.

Build a strong editorial point of view / content
Lastly, with so much content on the web, you can differentiate yourselves from other publishers by providing more point of view content or content only available on your sites. A great example of this is our current efforts with our new media products. We have digital issues, reports, solution centers and other media products that can only be found on our sites; users need to engage with us to download those pieces of content.

José Copado
Chief Developer

Larry Lannon - Group Publisher, Communications Network

Do You Know a Professional Who is Not Busy, Over-scheduled, Stretched? I Do Not.

I do not think there is a single professional or working person in North America with enough time to do everything he or she would like to do in the working day, no matter how long that day is. My neighbors—the two lawyers, the tavern owner, the two architects, the school cafeteria manager, the independent graphics design guy, the 8th grade science teacher, the admin, the guy marketing Italian beef products, the housing sub-contractor, the ER room nurse—are all running as fast as their churning legs will move. In the media business, we can assume our audience has less time to invest in our content than they once did or than we would prefer.

Besides being busy, what characterizes the audience for the Communications Network?

The Communications Network consists of three brands. Channel Partners focuses on the indirect sales channel in North America. B/OSS concentrates entirely on the global BSS/OSS community. Vision2Mobile (v2m) focuses on the intersection between mobility and video services. B/OSS and v2m both serve professionals employed by global communications service providers (CSPs). B/OSS' audience is exclusively a CSP audience, while v2m's audience also includes app developers and third parties, particularly the OTT (over-the-top) developers devoted to inventing cool new video services for the anywhere, anytime user. Channel Partners' audience consists of next generation partners who sell services someone else develops and provides them to the SMB market.

Five major characteristics tie this diverse audience together:

The entire Network's audience is heavily invested in developing, provisioning and selling communications services of every conceivable description. Communications services all rely on technologies—many, many technologies, all in a constant state of rapid development. The entire communications industry is in a permanent state of intense competition. Even the most powerful companies are subject to effective competition from unexpected directions and can lose their grip in a matter of months. Conversely, new entrants can seize the high ground technologically, develop a powerful service differentiator, and become huge successes in a matter of months.

No one is ever secure. No idea can be ignored. The future is guaranteed to no one. Rewards are immense. The Communications Network's audience consists of high risk/high reward professionals.

In these conditions, the individual has a strong personal incentive to master the latest industry knowledge. A decade ago, that meant running a daily gauntlet of news and news alerts. Initially, our industry used the internet like a machine gun, shooting headlines and news at our audience. The internet machine gun sprayed news at record speeds, but the news was a mile wide and a millimeter deep. Like an oil spill in a wetland, "news" choked professional information ecosystems, which began dying for lack of meaningful "information."

We have put down our machine gun. Now we are using digital platforms to work with our audience to provide the in-depth information that they want, at a time convenient for them and on the device they prefer. This information helps them perform better at work and ensure that their companies stay on top of their competitive worlds. We are working with and for our audiences, not shooting cheap digital ammunition at them. We are providing professional information organized on three connected levels: insight, analysis and action. The goal is not just communications, but to create actionable business value for our audience and their companies.

Channel Partners, for instance, is entering the second round of its Cloud Convergence Council, an in-depth exploration of how the Cloud is revolutionizing the work of next generation partners. The Council is a partnership with The 2112 Group. Much of the information developed is information created by the leading thinkers on the Cloud for the Channel Partners audience. The Council creates a family of information pieces, including an in-depth Report that serves as the Council's centerpiece. Other pieces include research, stories, slide shows, blogs, whiteboard videos and thought leadership pieces, all around the Cloud.

B/OSS a few weeks ago created a special Report on service differentiation in the Cloud—a deep dive exploration of how the cloud model is affecting the BSS/OSS profession. Launched in early January 2011 around a premium content strategy, v2m recently published a Digital Issue on better broadband, a look at how the CSP industry is preparing for the next generation of services during a period of network transformation.

So let's recap: 1) time is precious and the Communications Network's audience is extremely busy, with little time to devote to, and none to waste, consuming information; and, 2) we are providing deeper forms of information than before. Therefore, 3) we are foolishly spitting into the wind.

The opposite is true. By providing in-depth information that affects personal and corporate performance, and by putting that information directly into the audience's workflow, we are using digital technology to ensure the time the audience devotes to our professional information is productive time. We have a strategy to ensure that the audience can make an informed selection of the in-depth pieces in which it invests its time. We call that our "content leverage strategy."

The strategy involves providing important pieces of the core information in smaller, easily digestible, valuable pieces that are built from, and refer to, the in-depth product. By blogging, creating slide shows and running articles based on these deeper dive pieces, we let the audience make a well informed choice about where to put its valuable time.

For instance, the v2m Digital Issue on better broadband is surrounded by a web of subordinate pieces, including a slide show and a webinar. Each in-depth piece is supported by these subordinate pieces. These subordinate pieces inform the audience about the central ideas in the deep dive pieces, and alert them to when and where the deep dive pieces will be available. The well informed audience can then engage with the deep dive pieces on their terms and to the depth that best suits them.

This is professional information for a professional audience delivered at a time and to a device of the audience's preference, directly in the audience's workflow. This strategy accounts for and accommodates the audience's busy daily environment, instead of defying or aggravating it.

This deepens the relationship between our three trusted brands and our audiences. We are engaging with the professional information, and the audience, on an entirely different level. We are developing in depth information with and for the audience, not shooting nouns and verbs at the audience. This different level of engagement creates a fundamentally different, and deeper, relationship with the audience. It is a more collaborative, better informed, more valuable relationship.

With this new strategy, we have adapted digital communications technologies and platforms to meet the needs of our professional audiences—not to just pile more data mindlessly but quickly at their feet. Insight, analysis, action: this is what the professional information ecosystem wants—not another digital oil slick.

Larry Lannon
Group Publisher, Communications Network

John Siefert - CEO

Which Web are you? 1.0? 2.0? 3.0?

I will always find the internet and the web an incredibility fascinating thing—we all use it, but most of us don't really know what makes it work. Further, most of us have become so dependent on it for information, we use it to answer just about every question we have. Interestingly, this is true for both our personal and our professional lives. From checking movie times at the local theater to researching a major decision we are making at work, it has become the "it" thing to just about everything we do.

It's funny, cause I have heard many debates and critiques trying to define web 1.0, 2.0 and beyond—but they are generally just opinions. Now, of course, there are literal examples of web 2.0 technology, but I think the version of the web you subscribe to is much more about process and experience than it is about a certain type of technology. In my mind, web 1.0 was about web-based store fronts, web 2.0 was about engagement with people and communicating, and web 3.0 will become much more about listening and using information to help define what we do in our personal and professional lives.

For example, I am an avid user of Twitter—but I really don't "tweet" all that often, unless I find something that I think is important enough to share. In fact, I use Twitter much more as a learning and listening tool—through TweetDeck, I have my multiple searches up at any given time, and I use them to track the things that are most important to me. Realistically, I use it as my new "search engine" as it enables the search to come to me (err, ahh, maybe it is a "found engine" then :-)). Cheeky expressions aside, I do think Twitter enables a brand new dimension to the web—from on demand ‘searching,' to always on ‘finding', when it comes to the things I want to know about.

Let me put this into context. One of the largest markets we play in at VIRGO is the natural ingredients and products market, through our Health & Nutrition Network. The biggest brand we have in this space is called SupplySide, and we have created a whole series of extensions to this brand in the form of tradeshows, online communities, road shows and more. For @supplyside on Twitter, I have a constant search set up on the words "natural Ingredients," and I find a ton of interesting information and data that is being tweeted every day. From regulatory issues, to new ingredients entering the market, to new manufactured products using natural ingredients and more. It becomes a very useful way for the information to come to me, and for our Health & Nutrition Network to gage what is most important in the eyes of our audience. Based on listening and learning through this tool, we can then analyze what discussions make the most sense to launch in our community, which educational tracks make the most sense for our events and what topics deserve a deeper dive review through one of our SupplySide Reports.

As an example, just recently there was a bevy of controversy around "Lazy Cakes," which are melatonin enhanced brownies that many people have been using as a way to relax. The brownies have been called "all natural," but the claim has come into question with regulators in the market. We saw a number of tweets on this topic, and even saw a piece run in a major newspaper, so we started a discussion on the topic in our SupplySide community. The discussion generated a ton of engagement via commenting, and a lot of page views to the site. That really started with us listening through the web and tools like Twitter, and then creating an environment where people could connect on it through our community site. We then sent a few tweets to our followers letting them know we had a discussion going based on all the activity going on, and that drove more traffic and engagement to the site.

From my humble point of view, I think this is the future of the web—using it as a "found engine" vs. a "search engine" and paying specific attention to listening to what folks are concerned with. Then, translating that into something that lets people discuss, debate and define what it really means, and alerting them this is available via doing tweets of our own.

Sounds sort of web 3.0 to me.

John Siefert

By Troy Bix, Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

View to a Customer: Relationships Reign Supreme

I'm what you call "old school." This month marks my 20-year anniversary with VIRGO, and though a lot has changed in the publishing business since the early 90s, this holds true: If you want to succeed, you have to know your customers, and you have to provide stellar service.

As Group Publisher for the Business Solutions Network, a significant portion of my time is devoted to working directly with advertisers, exhibitors and sponsors of our websites, online communities, publications and tradeshows. When I joined VIRGO in 1991 to launch Inside Self-Storage magazine and expo, our offerings were simple: print ads and booth space. Now our sales menu is rich and diverse, including print and digital products that are often unfamiliar to customers.

The evolution of these products is swift, and sales representatives and their clients have to learn quickly. We have to understand how these options match customers' needs and what will really work best for each market. It's custom publishing, but accelerated. So our ability to sell is now intimately tied to our ability to educate customers and lead them to smart business decisions. But the essential component is and has always been service.

My customer-service philosophy begins with believing in the products I sell and the goals we, as a company, seek to accomplish for the markets we serve. But at the end of the day, it's about really knowing my customers, not just who they are in the workplace, but what truly makes them tick. Selling becomes a lot easier when you focus on building trust and integrity with your clients. In the midst of high-tech advances that change the way people communicate and the innovative products we create to serve our audience—solution centers, digital libraries, webinars, reports and more—we can't miss this most important element.

I like to know about my customers' families, their favorite sports teams, their hobbies, the charities they support, awards they've won. When you sit down, break bread and relax with these people, you get to see who they really are. You make that call on a Saturday afternoon to ask how they're doing, if little Johnny won his football game. Find out what they're going through in their lives. That's where the rubber meets the road. These are the moments that really hit home with customers and breed loyalty.

I don't care what tools you have in your sales arsenal—e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype—the deal-maker can be the deal-breaker if you take your customers for granted. In this fast-paced era of technology and multi-media advertising, we can't afford to forget the personal touch. Listening to customers is the key. Find out what they need, and figure out a way to deliver it. They will give you all the answers if you just listen.

Today the Business Solutions Network still leads the pack in self-storage publishing while also supporting the burgeoning charter school sector and the door and access-control industry. ISS has expanded from a monthly magazine to a franchise that includes three supplement publications, an annual Factbook, two annual tradeshows, the Self-Storage Training Institute and the Self-Storage Talk online community. We've also just launched an all-new membership program, which will make facility operators more effective and competitive in their markets.

With our latest launch, Charter Schools Insider, there are a lot of unknowns, because we're entering a market that is extremely underserved. It's at the cusp of exploding. I'd like to see it go from a premier website and digital publication to a tradeshow that will better serve charter school educators, owners, operators, developers and investors. It's a feel-good endeavor as well, because we're going to help the nation's kids access a better education.

In all cases, whether we're proudly building on an established brand or nurturing a new one, personal time with customers is critical. I appreciate the avenues opened by new communication methods, but I still advocate old-school service strategies. Truly good service emerges from one-on-one interactions with customers, and it never goes out of style.

Troy Bix
Group Publisher, Business Solutions Network

John LyBarger, Information Technology Director

The View Out Our Window: Connecting with Social Networks

Hello, my name is John LyBarger and I am the Information Technology Director for VIRGO. I've had the privilege of working at VIRGO for over 12 years.

As I sat down to deliberate on the topic of this blog, I received a LinkedIn alert on my iPad that a discussion I follow had an update. As I was about to log into LinkedIn I could see that I also had updates waiting in Tweetdeck and Facebook. It became immediately apparent what my blog should be about.

With the popularity of mobile devices growing, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are a finger touch away. The saying goes "step one: admitting you have a problem." So yes, I have to admit "I am an iPhone junkie." I have my iPhone on me pretty much 24/7. If you happen to see me waiting for the elevator, in a store checkout or basically anywhere I have a few moments to spare, you will find me thumbing through my Facebook or Twitter groups, checking my email or logging into the office network to check on my systems. Even if you're not using these services yourselves or hearing about them through the media, your friends or colleagues, and yes, even your children will remind you each day of their existence.

As the use of Social Networks has grown over the past few years, the move to the business space was inevitable. Initially VIRGO blocked or prohibited Social Networks on our company network. Today our CEO John Siefert, who comes to VIRGO with a strong background in technology, has taken a stance of encouraging our employees to use Social Networking for business purposes and incorporating it into their working time. Driving this initiative is John Muehling our Audience Marketing Director. Under his oversight the presence of VIRGO in the Social Networks has exploded. We have Facebook groups, Twitter groups and LinkedIn groups for each of our brands bringing our customers together with the talented staff here at VIRGO and with each other.

In contrast to traditional marketing I find it intriguing that LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter connections have become members of our groups because they have searched us out and discovered our groups either through Google searches, browsing a story on one of our websites or by recommendations from other members or connections, not because they were spammed by email. By being part of these Social Networks, VIRGO is positioned to listen to what our groups are finding most relevant allowing us to provide our readers with information they care most about. Our readers then connect with colleagues who share similar interests, increasing our audience.

As the IT Director, I focus on how the technology of Social Networking will impact VIRGO. The addition of Social Networks wasn't without some challenges. A few of the challenges have been security, protection of intellectual property, interoperability of our systems and policies that cover appropriate usage, which all prompted an update to our AUP (Acceptable Usage Policy). We've been able to work through these challenges and incorporate additional measures in our network to protect our systems. As Social Networks add features and new third party applications arise we know that new security challenges will arise.

What will the next evolution of Social Networks bring? There have always been whispers of a merger? What would the name be, TwitFace or possibly FaceLinked? I know, not very creative! Let me know where you see the next evolution heading.

John LyBarger
Information Technology Director

Twitter: @johnlybarger
LinkedIn: John Lybarger

Jon Benninger, VP, Health & Nutrition Network

The View Out Our Window: Innovation and Dedication

Since the first time I looked out VIRGO's window more than 15 years ago, our collective view has been one of innovation, optimism and dedication. The talent pool here at VIRGO is deep, and the spirit is strong. I think that's why we have done so well as a company through both the booms and the downturns. The amazing group of people here always seem to figure out what to do. And by that, I mean what to do for our company, our industries, our audiences, and our clients. It is this constant focus on innovation combined with our dedication to do what is best for all of our stakeholders that really makes this place special.

Here are some examples from the time I've been here that I think help describe the view from here.

At the first SupplySide trade show in Scottsdale in 1997 we had minutes until the doors opened to the exhibit hall. We were already scrambling as we had been since we announced we were doing the show…there was a lot riding on this. One of our original exhibitors and sponsors, Soft Gel Technologies, was running behind setting up their island booth (one of only 4 island booths at the first show). There were some cosmetic pieces not yet put into place, and the large television (before flat screens, by the way) meant for center of the booth was not yet in place. Peggy Jackson and I helped lift the TV into place, assemble a couple more of the essential pieces, and carted a few remaining pieces out the back door as our team was letting attendees in the front. This can-do spirit and dedication to help our clients and our industries with the heavy lifting is still alive and well.

I also remember in 2003 when there was a significant threat to the dietary supplement sector by some nasty legislation that would have gutted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This bill would have dramatically restricted consumer access to dietary supplements and truthful information about them. In addition to covering the situation and keeping industry informed, we actually helped to bring industry together around this critical issue. More than 130 industry members joined us in DC for an educational event co-sponsored by Cognis, Draco Natural Products, GNC, Natrol, New Hope Natural Media, NOW Foods and Reliance Vitamins; and supported by National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Utah Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) and Citizens for Health (CFH). This was not a money-making venture, but rather one that brought industry together around a critical issue. This dedication to supporting our industries and the issues that affect them is still alive and well here at VIRGO.

Most recently, I think our efforts and investments to drive our business (and your businesses) forward deserve highlighting. For months now, we have been working on our content-driven strategies, re-examining the way we do things, and creating some incredible programs. You may have heard about some of them already. The most exciting part for me is that this content-in-context approach focuses on delivering key information to our audiences when they want it, how they want it. Perhaps a quick executive summary of an issue or situation is needed. Got it. A more in-depth report diving deeply into the issue? Got it. A webinar with thought leaders discussing the topic? Got it. An always-on industry discussion about the topic? Got it. And of course a culmination of these efforts at SupplySide West and SupplySide MarketPlace. Got it. This integrated, user-focused, content-focused approach bringing all of our different communication tools together is really exciting stuff. Be sure to talk to me or anyone on our team about how you can benefit from what we are doing. I think it will change the way you think about marketing and building your business.

As you look out your window toward the future, know that you have a team of people here at VIRGO who really care. We are always thinking about how we can drive business forward, our business and yours. We are always looking to the future and listening to what our audiences, clients and industries have to say. We are a dedicated member of your team, and happy to be here!

Jon Benninger
VP, Business Development Health & Nutrition Network

Heather Granato, Group Editorial Director

The View Out Our Window: Captains of Content

Several years ago, I was invited to give a guest lecture via Skype for an introductory journalism class at my alma mater, the University of Richmond (go Spiders!). The goal was to give a window into the world of B2B publishing, a world most of us never considered in our undergraduate years. At that point, my goal was to be the editor of Cosmo, or perhaps to work at a major newspaper. Business-to-business communications never entered the equation.

Fortunately for me, I lucked into my first job just a month after graduation, joining the staff at Natural Foods Merchandiser in Boulder, Colo., writing product posts, editing pages during production and writing headlines for treats; it's amazing how creative your headlines can get when they're fueled by Munchkins. Nineteen years later, and I'm still enmeshed in the natural products industry, reporting on nutritional ingredients, dietary supplements, health foods and much more. I have great passion for my industry, and have developed amazing relationships with folks throughout the supply chain, all of which has helped me develop into a better editor.

Another bonus has been spending the last 13 years at VIRGO. As previous bloggers have noted, there are many "lifers" at VIRGO; it might not be for everyone, but for those of us who thrive under deadlines and are looking to overcome challenges on a daily basis, it's great. From the editorial perspective, our company is filled with journalists who are dedicated to delivering key information their industry players want and need to know. While our print issues and websites alone are filled with great content, the editors across all of VIRGO's Networks are developing more premium resources that put the content in a different context. Consider:

In the Health & Nutrition Network, we have developed a digital issue on long-chain omega-3s, released a report on the evolving functional food market, and launched the SupplySide Community, a 24/7 content-driven platform that extends our successful events into the online world.

I might not know anything about cloud computing, dialysis equipment or the insurance needs of self storage facilities. Fortunately, my fellow editors are experts in their fields, with the same passion and connections in their industries that I have in my own. All of us at VIRGO all have pride in the content we deliver, keeping our audiences' needs in mind and upholding the highest quality standards for our brands.

Heather Granato
VP, Content – Health & Nutrition Network

Twitter: @heathergranato

Danielle Dunlap, Executive Director, Production

The View Inside Our Window

Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome. I'm Danielle Dunlap, Executive Director, Production at VIRGO. When I first started at VIRGO over 11 years ago, our then-titled Advertising Traffic Coordinators received and processed the majority of our clients' ads in film. We would painstakingly manually cut and paste the pages for our magazines into one big wax-boarded monstrosity of proofs that served as the "master copy" to send to our printer. The final proofs were loose bound "books" consisting of blue & white reversed out pages (hence the term bluelines) that were developed in vats of chemicals much like camera film processed in a darkroom, arriving fresh from the printer—usually still damp and very much reeking of the special blend of developer liquid used. Believe me, you did not want to hunch too closely over those proofs reviewing ads for accuracy for prolonged periods of time, especially on an empty stomach lest you enjoy a fun little spell of the woozies. Good times.

Thanks to the technological advances since then our processes have changed dramatically over the years and VIRGO has continually looked to adapt and expand with the evolving technology. Within a couple of years we had fully integrated to full digital press and the wonderful world of PDF proofing had begun and made printing accuracy much easier. (Our sinuses were pretty pleased with them, too!) These days, print is no longer the main avenue of advertising and, as we have done over our 25 years, we again continued to expand and grow with and for our clientele. One thing that hasn't changed in all my time at VIRGO is our commitment to our advertisers and their satisfaction with our final product—be it in print, on our websites or in digital media.

The Advertising Production Managers (the title of Traffic Coordinator is another thing that went by the wayside with the changing times) have been a part of this since the days of film and work hand in hand with our advertisers to ensure their ad campaigns are processed and produced to their specifications by our fabulous Art Directors to fully monetize their advertising dollar especially in these tightened economic times.

Our current crackerjack team of Advertising Production Managers consists of Kristin LaBarbera, Leez May and Melissa Budwig. Kristin and Leez currently work on print and digital issues, while Melissa works on the websites and e-newsletters. As we have been seeing an increase in the demand for digital media, we are lucky to have such a strong team that has been able to make the transition to digital responsibilities. Cross-training is taking place now and all three will soon be able to work on all digital products.

Until next time … Live Long and Prosper, my friends.

Danielle Dunlap
Executive Director, Production

Dolly Ahles, Executive Director, Art

A View From the Desktop: All That, and a Bag of Chips!

Hi, my name is Dolly Ahles, I have been knee deep in all aspects of the art and production departments at VIRGO for over 15 years. In this day, it seems like anything over 5 years is a milestone with one company, but here at VIRGO, we have 25 people who have been here over 10 years. I find that to be truly amazing and a compliment to its leaders.

Occasionally, during deadline situations, I think there must be something in the water that keeps us here. But a lot of the glue that keeps us together is related to a close-knit vibe in our VIRGO community. What the heck, I'll say it, we care. We care about one another, we care about our customers, and we care about our environment (keep an eye out for exciting things here) and we just care.

My overwhelming thoughts about what I would say here came to me as I polished off the remaining crumbs of a small bag of Lay's potato chips. Yes, we are all that, and a bag of chips! Snap! This is a company of dynamic force, with many over achievers diligently cranking out relevant and timely content for over 20 brands. Having the advantage of seeing this company change and grow for over 15 years, I know that in spite of the waxing and waning economy, one thing holds true here at VIRGO. We move forward, we survive, and we rise to the top from sheer collective intelligence.

When it comes to the idea bank of most companies, it's the art and production departments that feel the pull. After all the content, marketing strategies and customer consideration is decided, we, as the art department, are the final frontier. This year, we have adapted our creative team to manage the changing times of our growing needs. With the introduction of interactive digital issues, bigger and better events and our entrance into exploding markets, just to name a few, we pulled our creativity as a group producing a strong team. In this way, we gather ideas from each creative soul, using the best design concepts, altering and manipulating to get just the right feel for the right project. Here's where managing 10 art directors, ok, I stand corrected, 10 fabulous art directors comes in. What makes them fabulous? It is the fact that we have developed a level of pride and productivity that gives us the edge in our industry. It's teamwork for the big projects, its ten collective minds to one end. This makes for a positive, strong group posed to crank out effective designs, where ever VIRGO endeavors; magazines, events, web and advertising. We bring together ideas for the look for our events. We support our clients' marketing and sales departments by producing a wide variety of content to help our audience understand their industries in more depth. We also help clients bolster their own products by supplying important information that they can use to promote their own products through the use of our magazine reprints, and sponsorships of reports, whitepapers, digital issues and briefs.

Obviously, I hold this company in high regard. Fifteen years of anything either puts a negative or positive veil on one's outlook. I am happy to say, as you can see, that I believe that VIRGO is strong, and I am happy to lead our art department in new and exciting ventures.

Dolly Ahles
Executive Director, Art

Heather Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer

The View Inside Our Window

As the Chief Human Resources Officer , I started off writing this blog about change management and a couple of paragraphs into it, I almost fell asleep.  While we have been experiencing a ton of changes at VIRGO from a new CEO, rebranding to drop the "publishing" (it is just VIRGO now in case you missed the memo), a new logo, creating new brands, products, events and strategies – heck, we are even changing the look of the VIRGO offices (understated neutrals, yet homey – come visit us in July after the work is done), that is not what I really want to share with you.  What I really want to talk about is why working at VIRGO rocks!

Working at VIRGO rocks because every day I get to come into the office and know that what I am doing is valued by the Company and by the people who work here.  I get to work on projects that matter and make a difference for the organization. Developing benefit programs, wellness initiatives, recruiting, sustainability plans, career development activities and just being a resource for the members of our VIRGO family in times of need – this is why I get up in the morning.  Ok, the coffee at the office is pretty good too!

I also really enjoy the days where I get to work on some of the non-traditional HR projects like working with Israel Laveaga in the Art department on the VIRGOVoice newsletter, or when I get to attend a sales meeting outlining some new products and strategies.  It is always fun to chat with Ioana, our SupplySide Client Service Coordinator, about what is going on with some of our international clients.  One of the more entertaining issues that recently came across my desk was a snake in the parking garage – no, I am not kidding and yes, it has been removed.  I have also recently been dabbling into social media a bit, managing our Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

At VIRGO you are an individual and a part of the team. I get to be myself at VIRGO.  I am the VP of HR and while I am professional and take my role seriously, I also have a fun loving and cheerful personality.  I am glad that I don't have to wear a suit everyday (or any day for that matter) and that our office vibe is more friendly then stuffy.  I am often caught singing in the halls even though I can't carry a tune – seriously, it is bad - especially when it is Air Supply Friday.  One of my favorite things to do is deliver the birthday and anniversary cards to employees and crack a joke, sing a little ditty or just let them know how much they are appreciated – if I can make them smile, it makes my day!

But enough about me, let's talk about everyone else!  THE PEOPLE AT VIRGO ROCK!  Even though VIRGO has many people who telecommute and we don't always get to be in the same place at the same time (we SKYPE a lot), I know if I need someone they will be available and they know the same goes for me.  The feeling of being supported and lending support is unmatched, at least in my career thus far. From Kelly Ridley, the CFO to Trish Hermansen, Staff Accountant & Super Sleuth to Manny Vong, our Facilities Specialist – I look forward to interacting with my fellow Virgoans every day!  We show our appreciation for each other by submitting nominations for the VIRGO Superstar award – all nominations are shared with the entire company and the names are entered into a drawing for a reserved covered parking space for a month.  The VIRGO Superstar nominations just pour in and it is great to know that we are catching people doing good things for each other and the Company. There are so many awesome individuals here who actually enjoy their work that it creates a positive, productive environment for all. 

So, in case you are thinking that I am the VP of HR and I have to say all of this stuff and I am probably the only one at VIRGO who thinks we rock, I challenge you to ask a few of our folks what they think.  Go ahead – I triple dog dare you ☺

Heather Wood
Chief Human Resources Officer

Katherine Clements - VP, Medical & Communications Networks

The View Out Our Window: Staying Ahead of the Curve

With our increasingly mobile society, receiving news in real-time has become the norm. However, in the business world, there's often a disconnect between information and implementation – especially when it comes to healthcare initiatives. As an information distribution company, VIRGO bridges that gap.

In my role as Group Publisher of our Medical Network, I've come to know the frustrations of the medical community firsthand, as they strive to demonstrate compliance with new guidelines that could send even the most-adept medical facility into a tailspin. The infection control community faced this challenge head-on when new regulations geared toward "hygienically clean" uniforms mandated a shift from home-laundered operating-room scrubs to those that are outsourced to a professional dry cleaner.

Infection Control Today was at the forefront of the change with a special report, "Healthcare Textiles: Laundry Science and Infection Prevention." This in-depth analysis helped medical professionals understand the complexities of the issue, while also giving them the tools to navigate the internal ramifications.

From apparel to hand-washing, infection control is an ongoing issue across the medical field. As such, Renal Business Today (RBT) recently released a special report on hand hygiene. According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, infection is the second-largest cause of death for hemodialysis patients. The new report delves into numerous guidelines for hand hygiene, while examining the barriers and performance indicators that accompany program implementation. This information is helping dialysis providers to focus on best practices now – instead of dealing with the consequences of a hygiene breach down the road.

RBT, along with sister publication SurgiStrategies, is also providing coverage on the latest developments regarding Medicare and Medicaid. The funding that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) routes to medical providers is often in-flux based on everything from individual or facility eligibility to state budgets to national healthcare reform.

Last month, SurgiStrategies aided ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) in tackling the issue with an expert review of using Electronic Health Records (EHR) to effectively support specific clinical activities. The resulting report, "CMS EHR Incentive Programs: Meaningful Use and the ASC," is influencing the bottom line for many caregivers, with tens of thousands of dollars in federal incentives at stake for eligible professionals.

Security is another high-risk area for the medical community – especially where new technology is concerned. Mobile Healthcare Today (MHCT) leads the charge when it comes to keeping medical and technology professionals abreast of advances in the field. For example, check out this image gallery from Albert Einstein Medical Center in north Philadelphia. The facility has pioneered the application of wireless patient tracking through its Real-Time Location Service, which it began implementing nearly a decade ago. Also stay tuned as the first digital issue of MHCT hits mobile (and other electronic) devices nationwide later this month. The May issue will explore the unique security and privacy challenges of using mobile technology in a healthcare institution, such as patient confidentiality and regulatory compliance.

Besides keeping medical professionals – and the companies that serve them – up to date on the ever-changing healthcare climate, we're also fond of bringing light to innovations that haven't quite taken off yet, despite having been available to the market for a while. One such practice is colon hydrotherapy (CHT), also known as colon irrigation. Earlier this year, a feature article in EndoNurse states that although the number of certified CHT practitioners in the United States has expanded more than tenfold in the last decade, "The understanding and acceptance of this treatment within the medical community remains virtually unchanged." Revisiting existing technology to examine whether it has future potential in the marketplace is just another way we're able to stay on the pulse of possible breakthroughs.

As a new mother just days away from giving birth, I can attest to the importance of medical innovations. Throughout my pregnancy, I've been on the receiving end of many new technologies from a variety of medical practitioners. In addition, I've taken the opportunity to research and interview healthcare providers to determine which professionals will be earning my hard-earned dollars. More than ever before, today's consumers are better-equipped to do just that.

Staying ahead of the curve so that medical (and other) professionals can advance in our consumer-empowered, data-driven society isn't easy; however, it is something we here at VIRGO thrive on. I've only shared a snapshot of some of the developments within the Medical Network. I invite you to take a look at our other networks to see how our passion for staying on the cutting edge plays out across the board.

Katherine Clements
Group Publisher, Medical Network

Dana Hicks - Vice President, Event Director

The View out our Window: Customer Service is our Main Ingredient

Hello – I am Dana Hicks, Vice President, Event Director at VIRGO. I began my career with Marriott International and learned the hospitality craft from one of the largest hotel brands in the world. Working from the ground up was an invaluable way to learn the catering/conference services side of the hotel business. All my experiences as a server, bartender, restaurant supervisor, Asst. F&B Manager and Banquet Maitre d' were truly important to my future successes. 11 years ago, I found my way to VIRGO and have been a part of an ever growing and evolving events department. Making a switch from hosting events to planning events was a big change but I was really excited to view the industry from a different port hole. It has been a really exciting ride at VIRGO and I look forward to our events continued growth.

About a month ago, I was having lunch with a friend at a local restaurant and two interesting events took place:

First Event: The restaurant was unexpectedly busy. It was rather obvious they were not prepared for the business. There was an immediate feeling of chaos with all staff and the waiting area was wall to wall people. We were fortunate to find a small table in the bar and we grabbed it. We were not on any time frame, so that would work in the restaurant's favor. Since I have been a part of the service industry for many years, I couldn't help but be extremely curious to see how our table service would be handled. In short, for most of our meal the service was fine. It was a bit slow, but again, we were not on any time schedule. The server dropped our check and I was surprisingly impressed about the overall experience. I was ready to even add "sympathy" dollars to her gratuity. Then everything changed…

Second Event: We were planning to split the bill and pay with debit cards, so we placed two debit cards in the check register and explained this to our server. Our server took an exorbitant amount of time to take care of the charges. What was unveiled upon her return to our table was that she lost my credit card. I was shocked and not sure how to handle it. It would have been very easy to become angry but I knew that is was not intentional. Again, I couldn't help but be extremely curious to see how this would be handled. In short, they handled it well. Management came over to the table and apologized; they comp'd our lunch; they gave me a gift certificate for a future visit. All the proper steps were followed. BTW – They did find my credit card 4 hours later but by then I had cancelled the card.

Customer service is one of our main ingredients within our VIRGO events department, and each decision we make regarding it affects the long term relationship with each customer. There is so much competition in the marketplace and we find it's one of our best avenues to separate us from others. Much of our event business is trade shows, so top-notch customer service to our attendees and our exhibitors propels our continued growth and success. Along my tenure, I have seen exponential growth of our events and keeping a sense of personalized service becomes a bigger challenge. Growth usually includes automation and can easily eliminate personalization. We pride ourselves on having a live customer service employee available during normal business hours. It makes a difference and people acknowledge it. Myles Dey is our specialist and does a magnificent job! Please feel to contact him about any of our events at 1-800-454-6730

The reason we are able to produce our live trade events is fueled by our exhibitors. Customer service is a key ingredient to help them reach maximum ROI for their investment. Exhibitors have many needs:
How do I order electric? Internet? Carpet? Coffee?
How do I register our booth personnel?
Where do I ship my booth materials?
I need to make hotel reservations? etc.
We have two of the best exhibit production managers in the business, Lola Ortega and Scott Feller. They are knowledgeable, friendly and readily available by phone during normal business hours. Please feel free to contact them for any questions or just use them as your personal concierge.
Lola Ortega: 480-990-1101 ext.1071
Scott Feller: 480-990-1101 ext. 1070

Take advantage of our concierge style service, feel free to call anytime!

Dana Hicks
Vice President, Event Director

Kelly Ridley - Executive Vice President, CFO

The View out our Window: Editorial Anatomy and Marketing Services

Hello – I am Kelly Ridley, Executive Vice President, CFO. I am very happy to be at VIRGO. I started my career auditing at a then Big 8 accounting firm (I am dating myself). While I learned a lot and met many great friends during my tremendous experience at Ernst & Young, I decided to move on from auditing and public accounting to be a part of a company, building and planning for the future, instead of always looking back on the past.  While my career and contacts have allowed me to experience many industries over the years, I am thrilled with what our information services industry and VIRGO has to offer. Not only am I involved in accounting and finance, but I am lucky to be able to partner with our CEO, John Siefert, to strategize and map out VIRGO's future.

I am really excited about all of the new things going on at VIRGO. We have new brands, new products and have welcomed new people to our team. The team at VIRGO is focused on creating an editorial anatomy that puts our content in the context that our readers, users and attendees want.

We have added new lead generation products that will enable our advertisers to obtain not only a high quantity of leads, but also a high quality of leads as well. Since our mission is to help business professionals break through the hype, ambiguity and information deluge they experience, by offering trustworthy guidance on the decisions they need to make—be that early in their decision making process, while making a purchase decision, or following the decision when a product, service or ingredient is being used, our readers, users and attendees are naturally accessing our content when it is right for them, on their time.

If a reader is looking for long view content, he/she might read an article in one of our print publications. If a user is looking for up-to-the-minute news on their industry, he/she might read the latest developments on our website. If a reader/user wants to do detailed analysis on a particular topic, he/she might download one of our reports. If a reader/user wants to learn about the pressing themes in the market, he/she might download a thematic digital issue. You get the idea.

What I like best about our approach is that it just plain makes sense, no smoke and mirrors, no hidden surprises, no sales ‘pitch', just providing our readers, users and attendees with the content they are looking for in the context they want it in, when they want it, a true information services provider. We have a professional, knowledgeable editorial team in each of our networks. I really respect each person and the expertise and passion they bring to each network and brand. Our approach is natural for our editors as they want to write content that our readers, users and attendees can most benefit from and are energized doing it.

Last year, we added a Marketing Services team to assist our advertisers in better measurement of the results from various marketing programs, so appropriate action can be taken. We have top-notch professionals who will guide and manage your marketing program from beginning to end, understanding exactly what content our audience wants and how they want to receive it. Our Marketing Services team provides the following services:

Visit the Marketing Services section of our website to see all of the ways we are delivering content depending on the stage of the decision-making process our readers, users and attendees are in. This approach is highly customized and VIRGO team members, including, sales, editorial and marketing, can engage with you to create a program that allows you to meet your goals.

I am proud of the team at VIRGO and am very fortunate to work with such talented people.

Feel free to drop us a line and let us know what you think. We welcome suggestions.

Kelly Ridley
Executive Vice President, CFO

José Copado - Chief Developer

The View out our Window: Google +1

As we move more and more toward adding social media to our web sites by including Facebook "like" buttons, Twitter buttons and LinkedIn buttons, we have to note that there is a new player in town, Google.

Google has been trying to get into the Social Media landscape without much success (google buzz, wave.. etc), but Google understands how important Social Media has become and is now pushing a new feature called "+1" (pronounced "Plus One"). "+1" is a button similar in purpose to Facebook's "Like" button, but it is integrated directly into the world's most popular and biggest search engine.

Users who click on the "+1" buttons will be giving essentially, what Google defines as, their "public stamp of approval." The reason why this "public stamp of approval" is so important is that it will influence the website rankings on their search engine. The more website visitors give their approval, the higher the search engine rankings. The idea makes a lot of sense, if you perform a search, it's really helpful to see results that are recommended by your friends and peers. "+1," if successful, will become a new ranking variable to use as part of Google's page ranking algorithm.

Google's "+1" button will initially show up in search results, but Google is also planning on offering website publishers a button that lets readers "+1" something without leaving the publisher's site. This is great news for website publishers of original content, since the chances of sharing original content is greater than those that produce aggregated content.

At this point, it's too early to know if "+1" will be a success, especially since at first it will show up only on search results and no one will recommend something without actually visiting the content first. It's a very interesting experiment, and one that we must be ready to adopt as soon as it becomes available to our sites, since it could help our search engine rankings.

The following video below explains "+1" in more detail:

José Copado
Chief Developer

John Muehling – VP, Marketing

The View from the Stream: Tools and Techniques for Marketing

I've often talked about the relationship between marketing and fly fishing, but while trekking through 10 miles of trout stream this weekend, it occurred to me that, like fly fishing, marketing takes both the right tools and, more importantly, the right technique!

Many of today's marketers link their success to having the best CRM platform, the best analytics tools, top-notch content and an engaged audience. But what of those audiences who are not engaged, what happens if you send information too often, not often enough or worse, you send the wrong information. When you are fly fishing, you could have the best fishing rod and reel, a box full of the right flies and a stream full of 20" trout, but if you don't know where the fish are, don't have the technique to get that fly in the right spot or don't have the patience to work the stream, you may as well pack it up and go home.

Today's B2B companies are constantly searching for the best ways to reach their audience. Now, we don't want to sound pompous with proclamations, but I can comfortably say that VIRGO has a secret sauce that few other information distribution companies can offer. With the recent introduction of Marketing Services, we have dramatically expanded our offering of programs that can position your company, product, service or technology in front of the right audience, at the right time. Our "secret," if you will, starts with an acknowledgement and respect for our audience. Acknowledgment for how much information they are bombarded with everyday and respect for the time they take to consume what VIRGO is delivering to them. You see, if we didn't take the time to learn who our audience is and then deliver the content they wanted, on their schedule and in a method they preferred (i.e. on the web, on a mobile platform, through email, etc.), they would either not be an audience very long, or worse yet, they would not be an engaged audience. Much like those fish in the stream; I could've thrown out a dozen or more dry flies last weekend (I prefer dry fly fishing), but that wouldn't have done much good, because the trout just weren't ready to feed off the surface.

Another part of our secret sauce comes in the way we market our content or your content; we call it "Performance Marketing." But fancy names aside, the marketing we do is a series of intelligence-based tactics, derived from an analysis of three key pieces of data.

Once we identify these key metrics, we not only deliver the "featured" content, but we also include other relevant content that they will find useful and helpful for making a more informed decision.

Now this approach may not be the "norm", but I would propose to you that it is exactly what today's B2B audiences desire (tweet this article). Companies will sometimes ask us "so, how many emails are you going to send to generate "X" leads on my whitepaper?" Our answer will sometimes be, "we may not send any emails to generate the leads, the audience for this particular whitepaper prefers communication through our newsletters and professional networking groups." What a radical idea, huh? Deliver the content the way the audience prefers to consume it. And this brings me to a key component of our lead delivery process. We elect to allow content to serve as a self-fulfilling filter, a way for us to determine if the audience member that is consuming the content is the right person for our client to be talking to about their next purchase. After all, you probably wouldn't read a tech-heavy article on Tablet Computers for Healthcare if you weren't someone who decides on or influences the technology decisions for a healthcare facility. By letting the content act as a self-fulfilling filter, then appending that information with other reader data, we know that the leads delivered from this report are of a higher caliber.

As I sit here in my office, reminiscing about fishing weekends gone by, I urge you to consider the following: Mobile devices and 24-hour access have helped turn the 5-day work week into the work-everyday week, and thus business decision makers now consume dramatically more information than ever before. They yearn for companies to think about the information they are pushing out there and about the people that have to sift through it to find the "good stuff" (the stuff that is relevant to them). In other words, don't deliver a series of dry flies, because that's what you think your prospects and customers should be "eating;" if you are on a cloudy stream, the water temp is still cold and the fish are feeding on the bottom, deliver the woolly bugger with a nymph dropper and be sure your technique is well-honed enough to catch your next big one!

See you on the stream…

John Muehling
VP, Marketing • Amateur Fly Fisherman

Larry Lannon - Group Publisher, Communications Network

The View out our Window: Channel Partners Conference & Expo

The annual rebirth of spring is mirrored by an exhilarating sense of rejuvenation in the channel.

Channel Partners Spring Conference & Expo, held March 13 – 15, flowered with a sense of optimism and growth. After several years of stagnation, the channel is poised for new growth.

The dynamics of the resurgent market are clear: the continued convergence of the traditional telecom channel and the IT channel into a single channel industry focused on selling solutions to increasingly demanding and sophisticated customers; the emergence of the cloud computing model as a channel business game-changer; and the power of education and knowledge in solutions focused selling.

The key words are: convergence, emergence and education.

They explain why the program was so important and successful last week in Las Vegas. You do not have to take my word for it. Paid conference attendees increased by 26% this spring over last spring's program. That type of growth speaks volumes.

The education around channel convergence and the emergence of the cloud will continue post-show. In the next month, look for a series of written reports from the Cloud Convergence Council, the Energy Institute and the Agent –VAR Workshop.

For the first time, we also will be creating special video reports around the findings of the Cloud Convergence Council and the Energy Institute. These 5 to 10 minute videos will provide readers with a short, easily accessible video that will create a powerful visual summary of the Council's and Institute's key findings – and bring a visual representation of the Cloud Convergence Council and Energy Institute to interested industry professionals who couldn't be in Las Vegas.

We also will be creating a series of whiteboard videos, each about five minutes long, bringing the ideas of key industry players like Juniper Networks, Motorola Solutions, Glacial Energy, Juniper Networks, PGI and Catalyst Telecom in the words of senior executives. These whiteboards are another communications innovation in the channel.

In addition, we will be publishing photo galleries and slide shows devoted to various aspects of Channel Partners Las Vegas, including: the Agent Peer to Peer Workshop, the Women in the Council Workshop, the Agent – VAR Workshop, the Expo Hall, the Channel Executive of the Year award winners, and the remainder of the diverse program. These galleries and slide shows will include not just photos, but charts and graphs, where appropriate. They will be fun and informational.

Finally, we will continue our intense coverage of Channel Partners LV in news stories and feature reports.

Where can you find all this great information? Go to: And of course for the greatest hits of Channel Partners, always read the monthly edition of Channel Partners' magazine.

Back to the channel itself. Why is there such a sense of optimism about the immediate future?

The national economic recovery has been uneven. Until the recent political events in the Mid East and the tragedy in Japan, U.S. stock markets have been on a long bull run that has been gathering power. On the other hand, unemployment and concern about federal and state deficits have argued for a more cautious take on the economy. Words like "ambiguity" and "mixed signals" are staples of economic reporting these days.

Not so in the channel. The channel sees an important period of growth immediately ahead as communications consumers who have deferred investment the past few years realize they need to push ahead now to remain competitive. The cloud, not coincidentally, is critical to this surge of confidence. The cloud allows users to scale and manage risk better. The cloud takes capex investments and transforms them into opex costs – a much more manageable model, a model perfect for the times we live in.

Channel Partners welcomes the industry's new spring. We will be creating more content, both in digital products and in our print products, and more powerful programs for our events. Like our readers, advertisers, sponsors and exhibitors, we think the industry is entering a new and exciting period of opportunity.

Our next event is in Chicago, August 24 – 26. But don't wait till then to stay in touch with the ideas and people driving the channel into its next phase of growth and prosperity. The digital world never sleeps.

Larry Lannon
Communications Network

John Siefert - CEO

The View out our Window: The Incredible Future for Mobile Healthcare

When was the last time you went to the doctor? For me, I had the unfortunate pleasure of going multiple times in the last few months with a pretty serious eye injury. The quick back story: my 7 year old son was "John Cena" and I was "Batista" in the heavy weight championship "Friday Night Smack-down," in our pool. He worked a choke slam on me that had his right hand's index finger find its way into my left eye—leaving me with a pretty intense retinal scratch (I should have known Batista could never take John Cena).

After suffering through some pain for 24 hours, I went to an urgent care where I learned that my injury was millimeters away from causing some permanent damage. The Dr., a young man in his early 30's, came into the room carrying a tablet computer, where he was pulling up my records that were just entered by the physician's assistant. He then used his tablet system to pull up a 3 dimensional image of an eyeball, and showed me exactly how big the scratch was—and proceeded to explain how lucky I was based on the position of the scratch. Not feeling very lucky, as I had not been able to open the eye for the past day, I asked him what I could do to stop the pain. He then pulled up descriptions of two pain killers, and clicked on links that showed exactly what they would do would for me.

Even though I felt horrible, I was mighty impressed with his quick access to information, and practical use of it to help me understand my situation and options.

As I thought about what this small urgent care center was doing with mobile technology, it really got me thinking about how this technology could revolutionize how medicine is practiced, and how thrilled I am that we have a brand in our Medical Network focused on this category: Mobile HealthCare Today.

We launched @mobilehctoday right around the time I had my injury, so it was intriguing to see (pun intended) the application of the technology first hand—specifically, how the Dr. was using his tablet to access the web, my patient record and the details for my care. It was like it had literally become part of his workflow, in fact, it was part of everyone's workflow at this small center.

Now, to be clear, they were not running really heavy EMR/EHR applications, nor were they connected to a Healthcare Information Exchange, but as I thought about the promise of these things converging, I must say I got really enthused for the future.

Mobile Healthcare Today, which is headed by industry veteran Rick Martin, is a premium content web site that is focused on really helping Drs., Nurses, Administrators and technology professionals understand how to apply mobile technology to their institutions. As we were launching the site we made a very conscious effort to determine what information this audience was looking for, but not finding. In this analysis, we saw there were a ton of sites that concentrate on news, but very few that deliver in depth examination of what to do about it.

In our inaugural report for the site, we went "On Site" with the Ottawa Hospital to do a deep dive case analysis on how they have deployed hundreds of IPads to their practitioners. We then followed that up with a comparative review report on Tablets for Healthcare, where we broke down all of the offerings in the market, and detailed what differentiates each. Further, we will be launching our first "Digital Issue" of Mobile Healthcare Today with a "Why and How" look at security, regulatory compliance and patient confidentiality when utilizing mobile technology in a healthcare institution (coming in May—contact me to reserve your copy, please include business card information)

However, we are not just about heavy lifting reports—we also offer slide shows, mobile video based executive summaries and interviews with top industry leaders on where they see the market evolving (called "6 Questions," where we create an even playing field for vendors to answer questions about their market position and solutions).

So hopefully you will not find yourself getting whooped by your 7 year old in a wrestling match that ends with you in urgent care, but I do highly recommend you pay attention to this category—it could, quite literally, save your life!

John Siefert

John Siefert - CEO

Welcome to VIRGO: The View out our Window

Hi, my name is John Siefert, and I am the CEO of VIRGO. We are an information distribution company, focused on the biggest markets affecting the US (and world) economy. Categories like Health, Nutrition, Medical, Education, Communications, and more, are what we focus on.

This blog is an update from me, and others, on what we are up to —the goal is to fill folks in on our strategy, outline some of the interesting things we are doing, and just shoot the breeze on what the view looks like out our window.

So, here goes: if you are anything like us, you like paying attention to the newest things that are affecting the market—sometimes it is good stuff, like the continuing evolution of the mobile space or the incredible new natural ingredients entering the market, which promote healthy living. But sometimes the news is not so good, like the massive breaches in security we are seeing in communications networks or the terrifying lack of infection prevention we see at many healthcare institutions. If the news is positive, or if it is negative, we try to internalize it, and share information that helps folks make decisions based on our analysis.

Here is a good example: of late, we have seen a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt arise about food safety. In the states, we have seen President Barack Obama sign off on the largest food safety bill in our history, and now it is incumbent upon ingredient suppliers and food designers/manufacturers to ensure that their goods pass the test. So what does this mean to the food services industry? How can they manage to the rules of this bill, whilst also trying to manage the very real food inflation crisis that is topping the world news? Through our analysis from industry leading experts at Food Product Design, we are trying to help this audience weed through the hype, and focus on what really matters: ensuring they can comply with this bill, as they look to grow their business. I encourage you to click on the links in this blog to see what we are doing—and to participate in the discussions we are provoking on these topics.

Another good example is the undeniable convergence we are seeing between traditional communications networks and the emergence of cloud computing. We have recently taken on this topic through our Channel Partners brand, with the introduction of our Cloud Convergence Council, a joint editorial effort we created with The 2112 Group. Our goal is to help the traditional communications and telecom channel understand what this convergence means, and how they can harness the power of cloud computing to meet their customer's needs. There is no doubt there is a ton of ambiguity around the space, and we aim to serve as the knife cutting through that hype, delivering real data and analysis from the people defining the market—not the news junkies pushing out the noise.

Finally, we are in the process of tackling a new category and niche of the education market: Charter Schools. Over the last few years we have seen a plethora of Charter Schools pop up across the United States. Some are doing an incredible job of preparing our youth for the future—and we applaud their efforts! Others are just getting started, and even more are at the very early stages of picking locations, analyzing site development strategies and outlining their lesson plans. We have found that there is no 'one stop' location for educators, owners', administrators and others in the space to go for information to help define their education and business plans. In 2011, VIRGO is launching Charter Schools Insider to do just that. Through our premium content strategy, we will be creating digital issues of a magazine to serve this audience via whatever platform they wish to access the content: on our site, through their tablets or over their mobile smart phones.

That is it from me—thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more from us here .

John Siefert