In the first quarter of this year, only eight new b-to-b magazines were launched, down from 13 in the first quarter of 2011, according to MediaFinder.com. With print advertising pages static at best, most companies in the b-to-b media world are too focused on social media and other digital opportunities to risk introducing a print magazine.
Elmhurst, Ill.-based Zoomba Group, is among those companies going against the grain. In March, Zoomba, which publishes Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, introduced Restaurant Development+Design, a magazine aimed at executives of expanding multiunit restaurant companies and the architects and contractors who help them build new facilities.
Zoomba President Maureen Slocum said her market wants print. “The circulation for FE&S in the hospitality market has grown organically with requests for the publication,” Slocum said. “We know that our readership loves the print product. We also know they want to have the more in-depth stories in the magazines and the news and product information on the website.”
Slocum also said the restaurant design market for the new publication wants the canvas that print offers. “It's a design market,” she said. “They love the feel of the magazine and the heavier paper for the cover.”
Slocum said the new magazine debuted with 28 pages of advertising and a circulation of about 15,000. Zoomba had to build much of that from scratch, searching the Web and other sources for architects and contractors that specialize in restaurant construction. “It took us 13 months to pull the circulation together, because nobody had it,” Slocum said.
Slocum is a big believer in print; currently, Zoomba's revenue is about 75% print with the remaining 25% split between events and digital. She saw the value in Zoomba's anchor title, FE&S, even after Reed Business Information U.S. shut it down along with 22 others in spring 2010.
The publisher of FE&S before leaving RBI for a stint at Zweig White, Slocum knew it remained a powerful brand despite the closure.
“It wasn't a matter of the product failing or going out of business,” Slocum said. “It was just a change in strategy [by RBI parent company Reed Elsevier].” When the product became available, “I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.
She didn't have to look far for a staff. “I put together the old team,” she said.
It's ironic that the brand founded in 1947 that Reed Elsevier shut down is strong enough two years later to fund the launch of a second print publication.
Slocum knows she is not alone in finding revenue in old brands that were once castoffs. Several other RBI brands were salvaged by their management teams. MB Media acquired Construction Equipment,
Professional Builder and other brands from RBI, then partnered with Scranton Gillette to operate them. Peerless Media joined with EH Media to run Modern Materials Handling and other RBI titles. And CFE Media, a company formed by a group of former RBI executives, acquired Plant Engineering and two other titles from RBI.