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Top Trades 2007: ‘Furniture/Today’

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Furniture/Today has maintained a dominant role in the marketplace by crafting ad strategies for the growing number of international furniture manufacturers that are trying to reach U.S. buyers.

"International [marketers] have started to replace domestic manufacturers that have dialed back their marketing communication budgets," said Joe Carroll, publisher of the weekly journal.

The magazine is especially seeing a surge in advertising from Asian manufacturers. Last year, it generated $1 million in ad revenue from China alone, and Carroll called that the tip of the iceberg.

"You have 47% of all furniture sold in the U.S. made in China [and] those companies have no understanding of the U.S. market," he said. "So we have to help them to deliver an entire marketing plan."

Furniture/Today's position has been resonating with advertisers both abroad and at home. Circulation, 82% of which is paid, increased nearly 10% in 2006. Ad pages jumped about 11.5%, to 2,772 from 2,485.

With more international business, Furniture/Today has ramped up its trade show presence overseas. It now has 20 shows annually, including events in Cologne, Germany; Milan, Italy; Paris; and Shanghai, China. Its eight U.S. shows include the biannual High Point Market in High Point, N.C., the largest furniture show in the world. Furniture/Today also sponsors an annual Bedding Conference, drawing 200 bedding marketers.

Carroll doesn't give print short shift. He points to two supplements: Kids Today, which runs 11 times a year and focuses on furniture that appeals to the younger crowd, and Relish, a biannual look at luxury furniture for high-end buyers.

"You can't have the whole pie, but you can get the biggest slices through niche marketing," he said, referring to the supplements. "You have to ask yourself: Is there a need for information in this market and how much competition is there?"

Carroll also places a strong emphasis on the ad sales process. "A lot of manufacturers are not very marketing-oriented," he said. "We have to teach them what's going on, and that way we have a better chance of getting their business."

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