“We outlawed the word ‘divisions’; we now have centers of excellence.”
Peter Goldstone, CEO, Hanley Wood

If anyone had remaining doubts about Hanley Wood’s full-on transition to a company focused on data and integration, the recent announcement of their new tagline—“Where Data Drives Action”—certainly stashed those doubts in the attic. After talking with Goldstone this week, I find it especially interesting that this commitment—begun when he took the helm in 2012—triggers so many good outcomes.

– They’re talking with customers more. “Workflow programs are very complicated,” he said. “These are not transactional relationships any more. [Customers] are now our real strategic partners—day in and day out—leveraging our database to create new strategies, not [for us to] just to sell ad pages and buttons to.”

– They’re hiring more. “We started with 325 people in 2012 and have 500 now,” Goldstone said. “Fifty percent of the workforce is brand new. The skill sets are totally different now—data specialists, data analysis, web development. We hired a group of 25 from the tech media space who were practicing digital-first 15-20 years ago.”

– They’re producing more content. “Our lead editors have gone through the change and transformation process, learning new technologies and tactics. We had 35 magazines in the past; we’re down to 15 now, but we are putting out three times the amount of content online. Our editorial people are producing, curating, distributing—and that means [better] content for our customers.”

– There are no more silos. “We were siloed around transactions,” Goldstone said. “Now we’ve morphed into a 3-legged stool: a Metrostudy data that informs; a best of class media that connects to the market; and world class marketing services, with capabilities that activate customers for our customers. The premise is that all three platforms and pillars are completely integrated.”

Reading about Goldstone is good, but anyone who can get to Fort Lauderdale for the Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS), Nov. 11-13, to hear his Friday keynote will truly benefit. The transition he describes is not some global quest that only very big companies can undertake. And his assured delivery will make you feel as certain about this path as he is.

Asked if he knew from the start that this was the right way, he said: “I did know this was the path I was going to take. It had to be proven out, but it was absolutely the [right] road map. I had experienced pretty robust and ambitious digital transformation at Atlantic Media, and knew that would be required when I came back to Hanley Wood. We had to do two things: commit to being a digital-first company and take a lot of solution and business models from the tech space and apply them to construction—at a time when [the industry] was coming out of the recession.”

Goldstone said that the most important takeaway from their transition is that “we used to be a collection of media and event brands, like an a la carte menu—one in building, one in modeling… Now the crown jewel is our construction area database, the biggest in the country. Customers want access to it; and that’s what we can leverage and unlock for customers. It’s a big sea change.”

He stressed that while size can matter in terms of resources, the key is that you have to have “something proprietary, something very, very special that nobody else has and gives you an advantage.” It has certainly worked for Hanley Wood.

“A third of our customers are buying two or more platforms,” Goldstone said. “We’re getting deeper into the workflows of our customers, tapping into budgets that are more than just advertising—data, business development, marketing services… Our overarching mission is to connect businesses and people to help build a better world.”

Hear more in Fort Lauderdale. Check out the amazing BIMS program.


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