Friday, February 25, 2011

What keeps many B2B mags open? Bankruptcy laws

It's the only conclusion I can come to when looking at the latest batch of magazines to hit my mailbox. Some of the books, many put out by fairly large B2B media firms, get lost in the flyers and coupons mailed along with periodicals and electric bills.

For most of these B2B magazines, the road from profitability to red ink was typical: cuts to staff, including sales, followed by a stubborn adherence to a wacko corporate philosophy, often brought in by the PS firms that funded the original acquisition of the properties.

While many of the struggling B2B magazines have pretty poor web strategies -- and absolutely no mobile or tablet strategies -- the real problem lies in the corporate offices. Whereas ol'Norm Cahners would flood a particular market with sales people, these new titans of industry believe that the fewer heads the better. No wonder that so much business is lost each year.

How bad is it? Well, I got done looking at about a dozen B2B magazines that contained between 4 and 8 ad pages a piece. Obviously not enough revenue to cover production costs, but probably not enough revenue to pay for the winter heating bills! (Many of these books are clearly no longer producing the number of copies their media kits say they are.)

So how are they continuing to publish? Like drunken gamblers at a roulette table, these publisher think they are only one issue away from turning it all around. What they fail to notice, apparently, is that the croupier has taken away the wheel and the ball -- or in this case, the sales staff and the BPA audits.

At the other end of the spectrum, some of the market leading books appear to have started the year well -- Grocery Headquarters looks to be doing well, though I must say that I have not actually counted ad pages to make the year-to-year comparison. I expect this will remain true pretty much across the board: the stronger, well-staffed books will continue to find advertisers, while the weaker books will find that agencies will move the money spent on these second tier books into New Media products. Folks, this money isn't coming back.

1 Comment:

JGee said...

Ever notice how the media trade journals don't like to talk about this issue? While the industry burns, they fiddle. Sad, isn't it?