My Beef With Black Business

Black-owned companies need to spend more money with black-owned media

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Zachary Raynell Rinkins  

Zachary Raynell Rinkins

Black Enterprise (BE) is my favorite magazine. I depend on BE’s information to stay ahead of my competition. As I was reading this month’s issue something struck me. White companies bought nearly 54 percent of the ads. Black companies bought a meager 7 percent. That means white companies buy over 7 times more ads than black companies in a publication focused on empowering and promoting black people and black businesses. This is a shame!

What’s my beef? BE promotes our people and our issues from our perspective. Yet, our businesses leave BE and other black media hanging. When Forbes, Business Week or The Wall Street Journal overlooks our contributions, we can depend on BE to showcase them. This magazine also teaches us how economic trends affect our community. Yet, we refuse to take ownership of such a vital medium. Black businesses should be equitable ad buyers in media targeted toward black businesses and professionals, period.

White companies are the presenting sponsors for the overwhelming majority of black conferences (the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, conventions of the NAACP, National Urban, Nation Black MBA Association, etc.) We should be ashamed that we do not partner in events that address and promote our issues. It seems as though our issues are more important to white companies because they sponsor them. What does that say about us? I have attended the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) summer program and its policy conference, twice. Guess who sponsors their events. AIPAC’s Jewish and Israeli constituency sponsors them. They feel they have a stake in AIPAC’s existence. They take pride in funding their issues. Where is our pride?

Of course our products are not race exclusive. That’s not what I’m saying. I don’t have a problem with white companies spending money or black businesses receiving it. You do what you have to do to remain competitive and profitable. We support white businesses. They should support us in return. My point is that we should have a more vested interest in sustaining our voice. And, we should have pride in advertising to our people. How can we convince other communities to believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves?

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  • I agree totally with the gentlemen.even myself as a consumer I forget about the beautiful avenues we have available to us to showcase our various levels of wealth. Thanks be for staying relevant and in the focus of many who support and care for what you do and your contributions to the culture.

  • nokware

    Good, insightful post.

  • Lee

    I have no problem with supporting our black businesses, Black business owners need to learn everything they need to learn about the business world from “A-Z” period. Then each black owned business needs to support one another. Also prices need to be affordable to the consumer and also purchase merchandise with quality. If we as black people can stay positive and work on our issuses we can overcome anything in life…….PEACE 09….

  • You have made an excellent point. Many black businesses overlook the need for advertising because of the high cost of doing so. Most of the companies advertising in BE have a huge advertising budgets.

  • Rodney Weeden

    very insightful. I think I have a few ideas to help us and change our community that speaks directly to what your blogging on. the answer are right before us.
    Perhaps if BE used people such as yourself and others with mutual eagerness and energy to make quarterly reports of where black businesses are advertising. that might be a small start; though I moreso think it doesn’t Necessarily take large budgets to affect the spending disparity you articulate so effectively amongst us (AA).
    thank you and God bless

  • Great insight!

  • The real issue is whether Black Businesses advertise at all. Some black businesses are still arrogant enough, especially professional services companies, to rely solely on referrals.

    In this tech age, how many black tech companies are there to promote the value of advertising, especially on the web, and specifically, the mobile web.

    My website promotes a different type of online advertising, EXCLUSIVE, instead of the CPC and CPM models (

    I also don’t see many black businesses on Facebook nor on Twitter. I understand your point, but look at the overall picture. Do black businesses do anything other than the DINOSAUR newspaper?

  • @Sharon Farris I agree with your comment “Perhaps if BE used people such as yourself and others with mutual eagerness and energy to make quarterly reports of where black businesses are advertising.”

    I as a small black business owner have very limited budget for advertising. It would be great to get a report that fits a first, second and third level advertising budget. Not all of us as noted in the post can advertise in BE.

  • I thank everyone for their feedback and support. I really appreciate it. Advertising is not an expense, its an investment. Its how business invite customers to purchase their product. Its also how business show customers their appreciation. Thoughtful advertising reminds customers to continue supporting your business. Great advertising has an even greater ROI.

  • Maybe BE should provide a list in each magazine of BOB (Black Owned Businesses).

  • Question: How many of the advertisements in BE and on the BE website are from national/international corps? For example I see an advert on this page from ATT. I will assume that this advert was not from the local AT&T store but rather from the corporate entity. Many of the adverts I’ve seen in BE are from Car companies. How many black owned auto companies are there?

    Given that BE is a very broad publication as opposed to say a site/publication dedicated to a particular industry I’m not surprised that many black businesses that are not national in scope are not placing ads.

    If this were, say “Black Automotive Enterprise” then I think the argument would be more valid. A Black owned business in the auto sector would probably have more of a reason to place an advert in a magazine that may land directly in front of their potential and highly interested customers for such products.

    Come to think of it, given the shrinkage of paper publishing perhaps BE ought to expand it’s web presence to include highly targeted sub-sites that deal directly with various industries which may entice those black ad revenue.

    Just a thought.

  • As a former marketing consulting firm owner, I totally agree with all of the information provided. However, how many black businesses are there that can afford to advertise with these bigger companies. When I owned my company it was enough trying to stay afloat and advertising in places we could afford. I wrote a book call A2Z Inspirational Marketing that talks about ways to market and it does touch a bit on this topic. Which is advertising in places where your target market will see it, but as stated earlier; What happens if you can’t afford to market with these companies? Just my thought!

  • Martin

    Sondjata has the right understanding. Mr. Rinkins perspective though sounding true, upon further inspection is flawed on all the front already mentioned. If we looked at the BE 100 for example, what wreason would most of them have for advertising to the Black Enterprise national audience, unless the rates we dirt cheap. If applied to local advertisers, Mr. Rinkins challenge would be a bit more credible. Small business have to advertise if they are going to get business and maintain business. Viable media needs to be considered to make that happen. Where there is viable media it should be used if cost effective. I know there is black media that is viable at this level. I read black newspapers all the time and see very little local advertising in it.


    Great article. Great responses/posts. I came here looking for some insight to the Black business owner and think I hit the jackpot. I am currently targeting Black-owned businesses where I live to see what I can do to assist them in increasing brand awareness, increased traffic and ultimately profits.

    I am an Account Executive for a popular and vibrant Urban (Radio) format and we have very few black-owned businesses on the air. I see them in the Newspaper, but I know it’s probably only 2% of the Black-owned businesses where I live. I’m trying to change that with the assistance of the On-air Personalities who are connected to the Black community here. Through cooperation in Sales and Programming, we have been able to renew the interest in investing in our Brand which is very well received and patronized by the Black community.


    If you start locally, invest in your customers, your community and your business, you can elevate your presence globally.

  • Just a question. I understand and agree with Mr. Rinkins. But aside from being listed in the BE 100, how many of THOSE Black owned companies actually advertise in BE? I am a subscriber and avid reader of BE (have been for many years). Based on Mr. Rinkins’ logic, those companies are tops at what they do, have outstanding revenues, and are qualified to be on the BE 100s. Shouldn’t they be advertising in BE?

    We can go back and forth all day long about the small business budget and the importance of advertising. But shouldn’t Mr. Rinkins be asking those companies this very question? If this is an attempt to shame Black Business into being responsible for supportng Black media, shouldn’t the ones with more “flexible budgets” be brought to task on this first?

  • Teri Mays

    Mr Rankins hit this issue right on the head. I am a business owner (Fashion designer,Home Decor, instructor and becoming a Home Stager/Re-designer). I advertise with fliers, postcards and word of mouth. When I lived in California I advertised in newspapers, a free spot on a local radio station (ask they may give you a 10 second spot) and the L.A. Black Book a black business telephone directory, my point is advertising is the fundamental source in developing and expanding your business. Remember, when you go to dinner or buy something for yourself,take that money and advertise, you will be amazed at how much money you can save to even advertise for one month.

  • Well i am a black owned business and was not
    able to get any support from the black media so i
    guess it goes both ways

  • What I would like to add is that a good point was brought up when someone else stated that many black businessses cannot afford to be listed on BE even though advertising is essential, but if you can’t afford it…you just can’t.

    Maybe if there’s a pricing system that would match each advertiser’s budget or a similar system that would allow small (really small) businesses a chance to get their voices heard.

    So many great businesses sink because of lack of advertising but you need money to make money and it’s just a vicious cycle.

    I think that if most black businesses could afford it, then they’ll have their ads all over BE. I know first hand, I’m trying really hard to get my voice heard..on linkedin and all kind of networking sites, it is a real challenge.


  • Gail

    Mr. Rankins,
    I agree with the many replies previously. In my opinion, there is well enough spending power generated in the black community where there should be more black owned media stations and hotels. Aside from us regular subcribers to magazines, newspapers–what about the celebrity types–ball players and the like,etc., being challenged to contribute or do any of them do on a media(T.V.)level? I would like t know. Why not market to them as well? I live in NJ. and all we have is BET and CNN–not really a positive voice that represents the black community,i.e. when it comes to negative stories/stereotypes. On cable t.v. we have 4 spanish-owned/speaking t.v. stations and several spanish music stations. There should be no excuses in this concern. Apparently, they are managing what needs to be done to stay on the air.
    Thanks for all replies.

  • Zachary, I whole-heartedly agree we this here my friend. I know some of us are always putting down black business (which we need to all make sure our business game is trump tight), but I see lots of white media right in our face at our events. I was at a Black Business Expo this year, and was surprised by the number of white people who attended. Not that they were excluded, but I don’t think if the Klan had a business function, my happy behind wouldn’t be allowed to spectate. If we are letting the non-black businesses constantly control our resources and don’t support each other enough to, to your point, uplift and empower each other, then we will always be at the bottom. As a black business owner I can talk that talk. I’ve seen it and been here in the trenches. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Support black businesses!!! Stop making all of these excuse why we can’t. We have to learn to shed that whole finger-pointing thing. I read some of these comments and people are already talking about black business. Read between the lines and understand the bigger picture of what’s being talked about here. Let’s together as black businesses hold each other accountable for being as good or twice as good and our non-black competitors and learn to support each other. Do GREAT business and stay two steps ahead of the competition. Don’t run your business like a hustle, run your hustle like a business! This is imperative to our survival.

  • Your point of views where very insighful. I agree 100 percent with you. We as a whole do need to start supporting oursleves if we want other to support us. We have to start sticking together like they did in Dr. King days.

  • Great! I think youngsters of India would enjoy it very much.