BtoB

Bullish on print. And online. And events.

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We just bought a magazine. To be specific, we just acquired Newport Business Media, which publishes Heavy Duty Trucking. We're feeling pretty bullish on print right now. Bullish on our footprint, that is. While the world around us has been lamenting the bleak paper-and-ink future of business media, we at Bobit Business Media have been steadily growing our business by listening to our audiences and knowing them better than anyone else. We've expanded our footprint in our markets by listening. There is simply no better “technology” in business than a team that knows how to listen, can see opportunity and can forge relationships that go beyond a Facebook “like.” When we're considering an acquisition, we don't focus first on whether something is digital or print or in-person; we ask ourselves if it will help us serve our markets better, regardless of the platform. Take, for example, our purchase of Heavy Duty Trucking and its companion website, TruckingInfo.com. These properties were a perfect fit for us because they complemented our strategy and expertise in serving vehicle fleets. We covered nearly every kind of fleet there was, whether it was executive sedans, utility vans, school buses or limousines. But we didn't have the big trucks, and HDT was the piece of the fleet market we didn't cover. The addition of HDT to our portfolio gives us unique strength and has positioned us, we believe, as the No. 1 vehicle fleet publishing company in the world. That dominance provides a nice tagline for us. More important, it provides a depth of resources for our customers that is unmatched in the market. Our teams are deeply entrenched in their fields, and we don't get distracted by technological hype. Just weeks before General Motors Co. acknowledged that it was cutting its Facebook advertising because it “didn't work,” we sent a sales team to Detroit to win back print ad dollars that were being diverted to social media. Our team knew that GM's audience didn't buy fleet vehicles based on Facebook “likes” and fans. That, of course, is not to say that we aren't extremely enthusiastic about digital opportunities and social communities; we are. We have built active online communities that are first in their fields, and Bobit websites earn high marks for providing strong monthly page views for advertisers. Social media has been an outstanding success for some of our brands; yet it's practically a nonstarter in others. So we focus our energies accordingly. Rather than have a corporate dictum to build Facebook powerhouses for all our brands, we put our energies into the platform that is right for each market. Our beauty market, for instance, loves Facebook, which drives a tremendous amount of traffic to our Nails website; but our security industry gets traction from newsletters. News is the No. 1 traffic driver for our security site, but our Nails market is lukewarm on news. Oh sure, we'd love to be first in one of our markets with an iPhone app or be the first site in HTML5, but we know that overspending or overbuilding just for bragging rights doesn't help us bring buyers and sellers together, which is our core mission. So while we'd sometimes like to be sitting in the first car on the log ride, we're sometimes better off letting someone else get all wet. The right strategy for today is to dominate in a concentrated market sector, and that is what we want to do. We believe the publisher of tomorrow must have multiple products that can be cross-promoted. Publishers need to dominate so they have the critical mass that provides the scale needed for the future. It is scale not only for print but for online and database opportunities. Ty Bobit is president-CEO of Bobit Business Media. He can be reached at ty.bobit@bobit.com.
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