Looking for a trade show in Morocco, advice on how to write a letter to a business in Kazakhstan or information on how companies are faring in international trade?
A new national magazine based in Baltimore promises the answers.
Trade & Culture will begin quarterly publication in July and plans to become bimonthly next year. Editor and Publisher Tom Boettcher is betting that the magazine will find a niche by providing cultural insights and business tips.
"My goal is that at the end of a story, the reader won't say, 'So what?' We want them to take the next step and put the information to use," Mr. Boettcher said.
The cover story of the first issue, which will have a press run of 40,000 copies, will profile W. Edwards Deming, an American credited with having taught the Japanese quality control.
Inside, the magazine is organized by 21 trade regions, with each section containing maps, calendars of events, columns written by business people, trade leads, summaries of airfare, shipping, car rental and hotel costs, briefs on culture and questions and answers on how to conduct business in various regions.
Business people need to know more about the cultures in which they intend to work, said Elizabeth K. Nitze, executive director of the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore, which conducts trade seminars.
"It's an emerging focus for people interested in international trade," she said. "It's a new field, and that's why the magazine is so timely."
She cautioned, however, that the magazine needs to keep a sharp focus on the needs of business people.
James Kobak, an independent magazine analyst in Connecticut, said a number of magazines in the past 15 to 20 years have targeted people involved in international business, but without much success.
Today, magazines dedicated to international trade are the monthlies Export Today, World Trade and International Business.
Trade & Culture's prospects will depend on finding the right niche and marketing the magazine toward the right audience, Mr. Kobak said. "You don't know if it will succeed until you try."
Mr. Boettcher was a free-lance writer in Virginia two years ago when his longtime friend, Wayne Alden, the owner of several local McDonald's restaurants, asked him whether he was interested in starting a trade magazine.
Mr. Alden said he came up with the idea for developing a trade magazine several years ago while on a ski trip in Utah. He said he tried to rent some American skis and the resort didn't have any. He said he began to think about the U.S. trade deficit and saw a need to tell American businessmen how to be more successful in selling their products overseas.
He took his idea to Mr. Boettcher, who had experience in magazine publishing going back more than 20 years, when he produced an annual football magazine while in college. Later, he started Oklahoma Monthly magazine, which he operated for several years and then sold. Mr. Alden is a major investor in Trade & Culture.
The glossy color magazine will contain a minimum of 90 pages and is being designed by a team of magazine designers in Arlington, Va. Initially, the magazine will rely on free-lance writers and maintain a staff of about 10 office workers and salespeople in offices in the 7100 block of Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore.
Salespeople are soliciting ads from shippers, transportation companies, ports, municipal governments, insurance companies and other trade or international companies. Ad sales are going fairly well, Mr. Boettcher said, but in the first issue they will not account for the targeted 35 percent of the magazine's space.
Most of Trade & Culture's first issue will be given to business people to introduce them to it. Subscriptions will cost $39.90 for six issues.