Business & Legal Reports (BLR) is making a change, albeit a subtle one. Now known as Business & Legal Resources, the company is, like so many others, realizing the value of its online business and making the changes needed to beef it up-which includes a website overhaul and a rebranding as of Sept. 22 that will highlight more than a year of strategic content initiatives.
Since 1978, BLR has been providing support resources to HR, safety, and environmental professionals with legal compliance and professional resources. For much of that time, says CMO Kathy Greenler Sexton, "support resources" meant handbooks, newsletters, and other printed materials. "We've been going through this evolution internally," she says. "What we've been focused on over the last year and a half is really developing a coordinated online presence and platform.
"Our customers are really driving online ... putting content into the workflow helps our customers," says Sexton of BLR's web migration. A big part of this new platform has been online training, which helps companies comply with government regulations. For instance, Sexton says, "California mandates sexual harassment training for supervisors every 2 years and it has to be 2 hours in length." BLR offers online training modules that meet these specific requirements and provide access to the materials as well as score employees and even track the time it took someone to complete that particular task.
"We used existing training assets to launch a site ... and wrapped a training platform around the content," she says. A trainer can be up and running within minutes, according to Sexton. Users can go to a BLR training site, complete with their own company's logo, and take any required training or quizzes.
BLR has also been growing its online offerings through portals such as HR.BLR.com, Compensation.BLR.com, and Enviro.BLR.com. The portals have moved much of the company's print business online, including news, white papers, compliance forms, and salary calculators, as well as analysis and guidance. All of this is available by state; a small company can buy access to information for just its particular state for $895 or a large company can buy access to any number of the portals and states for significantly more money. There's even a web community where more than 3,000 active users interact.
Subscribers can also become publishers of sorts. BLR offers a "make your own newsletter" tool, where users can pick through the site's content, put it into a template, and then hit print-or just make a PDF. In essence, users can make highly specific, tailored publications for their needs.
Going online has also opened BLR up to new opportunities. Sexton says three of the top five insurance companies are customers, and the agencies also provide access to their customers in order to help keep premiums down. "One of the things we have discovered as we have evolved is that the print products have really addressed the lower end of the market ... As we move online the average order value increases," she says.
While BLR has been growing its online offerings, its main page-which Sexton describes as making the company look like a "cataloger" selling books and newsletters-has remained unchanged. "We were not reflecting ourselves in the market how we were, or how we expected to grow," she says. In essence, the company's main web presence all but ignored the growing, vibrant parts of its business that are not print-based. Needless to say, a redesign was in order.
So, in mid-September the company finally launched its new website, with a new name and a refreshed logo. It's not all about the website, though. A renewed approach to the way BLR presents itself online also means a renewed approach to the way the company approaches sales. Sexton says that since BLR moved its content online the average buyer has changed from a single individual in a small to medium-sized company to a department head buying for a team.
"Our sales process has evolved as well," Sexton says. "We have a pretty sophisticated and talented team in terms of direct response." Many users won't see much change, right off the bat. The portals will remain very much the same. It's that main page, the public face of the company, that is getting a more streamlined, focused look. Sexton says, "What this will do is help existing customers see the breadth and depth of the services we provide."