‘Entrepreneur’ stays the course

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Palo Alto Software Inc., which sells business planning computer programs, has been running its ads for the last three years in both Entrepreneur and Inc because each publication serves the small-business marketplace. But during the past year, the Eugene, Ore.-based company has steered more of its ad dollars toward Entrepreneur at the expense of Inc, which underwent a major redesign.

"With Inc’s redesign its demographics are changing to more established, growth-oriented businesses, while Entrepreneur has hung in there with the small office/home office market," said Doug Wilson, VP-sales and marketing for Palo Alto Software. "It [Inc] just isn’t as clean a target as Entrepreneur."

Recent in-house surveys of Palo Alto’s registered users found that Entrepreneur, published by Irvine, Calif.-based Entrepreneur Media Inc., was the second most commonly read publication, trailing only The Wall Street Journal.

"You’re talking to someone who is looking to learn, wants to know the pitfalls of starting a business or to validate an existing idea," Wilson said. "That matches our audience, which is looking for software that can guide them through the process."

While the media tend to focus on corporate giants, 99% of U.S. businesses are small or midsize companies, defined as those with fewer than 500 workers, according to a 2001 study conducted by IDC Corp. This market represents about 90% of Entrepreneur’s readers.

A decade of growth

Entrepreneur, which celebrated its 25th anniversary with its May issue, has grown considerably in the last decade. Since 1990, its circulation, which is fully paid, has increased 66%, to 563,000 from 325,000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Although Inc has a bigger rate base of 665,000, its circulation grew just 4% during the same period.

Carrie Fitzmaurice, publisher of Entrepreneur, said the magazine has established a strong bond with its readers. "Our editorial is very pragmatic oriented, very active oriented," she said. "Other books talk about business and not the business tools needed to help grow your business. Our rule is at the end of every article there should be a lesson."

The lesson isn’t lost on Entrepreneur’s stalwart advertisers, such as IBM Corp., the U.S. Postal Service and American Express Corp. New advertisers include SAP AG, Seiko Instruments USA Inc., State Farm Insurance Co. and Toshiba Corp.

Despite such strong support, Entrepreneur hasn’t been immune to the ad recession. Through June, ad pages fell 6% to 648, from 687 in the first half of 2001. With the ad squeeze showing little sign of letting up, the magazine is taking pains to expand its brand.

Expansion plans

Entrepreneur is sponsoring a small-business summit and the "Solutions for Growing Businesses" pavilion at the PC Expo June 25-27 in New York. The trade show is expected to draw 45,000 people, nearly half of them small-business executives.

The publisher is also planning to add several more titles this year to Entrepreneur Press, which currently markets 100 books, with such titles as "Think and Sell Like a CEO" and "Making Horses Drink: How to Lead and Succeed in Business."

Entrepreneur has also broadened its global presence. Entrepreneur Media currently has seven titles overseas, including the just-launched Entrepreneur China, Entrepreneur Philippines and Entrepreneur Japan. Entrepreneur Mexico is one of the largest business magazines in that country.

Jim LaBelle, VP-marketing for Oracle Corp. subsidiary Net Ledger, said Entrepreneur has been a solid marketing vehicle for his company’s line of small-business products. He said the magazine reaches nimble business executives who prefer all of their computer programs under one roof rather than using disparate applications to run their businesses.

"We don’t want to talk to a controller but to someone who knows the big picture and is probably the owner of the business; that defines Entrepreneur," LaBelle said. "The publication has a lot of fresh ideas and is well suited to growth in the coming years."

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