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Print paves way for marketers to speak to small-business sector

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It was the kind of contest that causes cash-strapped small businesses to go crazy: a competition sponsored by Entrepreneur to win an "Office Technology Makeover," paid in full by Xerox Corp. The winner, Sprecher Brewing Co., was announced in the November issue of Entrepreneur after the publication teased the contest in several issues throughout the year, asking readers to submit the reasons why they deserved an office makeover.

The contest was just one of several integrated marketing campaigns Entrepreneur Media created this year for advertisers eager to reach its substantial small-business readership. The magazine is sponsoring a similar contest with American Express Co. to name the "Woman of the Year in Small Business." The winner will be announced in the December issue.

This type of campaign is "great for the advertisers because they get to stand out, and have something that jumps off the page and is interactive with our readers." said Carrie Fitzmaurice, VP-publisher of Entrepreneur .

Entrepreneur Media also has partnerships to provide content to nearly every major portal or ISP devoted to the small-business sector, including AOL Small Business, businessweek.com, CNET, Google and smartmoney.com.

Generally unheralded in mainstream media, the small-business market is worth $2.6 trillion in annual spend and drops about $560 million a year on financial investments, according to Godfrey Phillips, VP-research for the City Business Journals Network, an organization of 68 business publications across the country with a combined circulation of 800,000 and a readership of 3.8 million.

Nevertheless, Phillips stressed that when it comes to print products the small-business arena is underserved by national marketers. "Unless marketers are committed to getting on annual schedules, they'll never be able to substantiate the value of small businesses," he said. Asked to name national marketers that consistently communicate to the small-business sector, Phillips cited American Express, FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service of America and Xerox Corp.

Those companies also made the Top 10 advertisers list in Crain's New York Business (which, like BtoB , is owned by Crain Communications Inc.).

"They know people are going to read a publication that talks about [the business issues] in their own backyard," said Crain's New York Business Ad Director Vanessa Mary Cognard. She added that 98% of New York-based companies are considered small businesses, defined by the federal government as companies with fewer than 100 employees.

The top 10 advertisers in the Crain's New York Business list all include a small-business component in their ads. "They know they're going to get more face time from readers who say, `Hey, they're talking to me,' " Cognard said.

Hugh Wiley, publisher of Fortune Small Business, said CNNMoney.com, which launches in January, was designed in part to help national marketers reach small businesses. The site will draw on content from Time Inc. publications Business 2.0, Fortune, FSB and Money. CNN's global reporting staff will also contribute to the site's content.

"Every one of these titles has significant small-business coverage," Wiley said. "You need scale for national marketers to touch individual marketers in that sector."

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