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Considering a print startup?

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Looking at last month's feature on print startups, I was impressed by the breadth and number of smart new products launched in recent months. As Peter Goldstone, president of Hanley Wood Business Media, noted, his company has driven more than $5 million in revenue thanks to the rollout of Architect a year ago.

The key to launching new products, as noted in the article, is finding the right underserved audience and thinking through both print and online together—making sure they work in tandem, while not duplicating efforts.

For the future, it appears print will continue to be core to media spending in b-to-b.

Last month, BtoB published an exclusive study of 2006 b-to-b marketing spending based on an analysis of TNS Media Intelligence data. It found spending was up 1.4% for all channels and down 2.7% for business publications. While Internet spending grew 17%, it accounted for just 9.6% of the total. Print (including newspapers and magazines) accounted for 50%.

Given a total ad spend of $14.39 billion and a total print spend of more than $7 billion, there is still plenty of room for print publications in b-to-b.

However, let's face it: Growing print pages is very difficult. Moving advertisers online is much easier, and postal increases and paper costs are not making it easier for print. Launching a print product is more expensive than starting a Web site and e-newsletters alone.

So be careful. Be sure it's the right niche and to make it an integrated offering. But don't count print out as part of a startup.

Bob Felsenthal can be reached at bfelsenthal@crain.com.

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