@ FOBM: Consumer Business Magazines: What does it take?

@FOBM: Transforming The Business Media Brand - ForbesPicking up from where the Forbes panel discussion at Future Of Business Media left off, Rafat Ali, publisher and editor of ContentNext Media Network, asked Keith Fox, president of BusinessWeek, to defend the magazine’s wholesale redesign:

Fox: He stressed the need for a “liquid” quality, having a flow from print and web.

PIB Numbers: Rafat noted a jump in PIB numbers for The Economist. Susan Clark, publisher for Europe, Middle East, Africa/global marketing director for Economist, said that advertisers know it has a high end global audience and people “read us out of choice, not to get ahead in business. 85 percent get the magazine at home, read it for two hours and have a glass of wine with it… We don’t have local versions. Content is the same worldwide. The U.S. businessman’s counterpart is reading the same thing.” Ongoing

— For Mansueto, publisher of Inc. and Fast Company, operating margins are up 30 percent versus a year ago, said John Koten, CEO, Mansueto Ventures. “We are not trying to be all things to all people. It used to be when I went off to work, the business community was an identifiable thing. That person read Forbes and the Wall St. Journal and they served that club.” The fragmentation of that community has changed the way business magazines approach its readership. “Our audience is smaller, but more defined. if you’re serving a growing niche, you don’t have to worry about the larger universe of business readers.”

Competition: Rafat’s co-moderator, Dorian Benkoil, asked Fox if he sees BW competiting against Conde Nast’s Portfolio, which he said is best viewed as a business lifestyle book. “I see us competing against CNBC and other outlets.” David Carey, publisher of Portfolio, notes that this title is competing against other Conde Nast magazines. “A magazine that’s not here that’s got a great ad mix, half endemic, half not, has a great story.”

Internet Strategy: What’s the reasoning for not making Economist’s archive not completely free, Benkoil asked. “We want to keep some added-value benefits for subscribers. Most people I know, would not read the Economist online. It’s a teaser in a way,” Clark said.

Magazines As Community Focal Points: Noting that magazines are a community of interests, Rafat asked about Inc.’s recent introduction of a social net. Why wasn’t this done earlier, as magazines were perfectly positioned to capitalize on this movement? Koten said it’s been challenging for magazines to understand the communities they serve. “For Inc., we’re still in beta, but we’ve tried to launch a Facebook for small businesses, instead of focusing on a single individual. Hopefully, small businesses can communicate and learn from each other. When G&J bought these magazines, they saw media properties, not communities, and they undercut the strengths that they had. We’ve been trying to rebuild those communities that were taken apart.”

Video: For BW, Fox is not that bullish on video, though he does see user-generated content to be part of it. When pressed, he declined to offer any major details on those plans.