B-to-B: Digital Remix
Marketing Mix Choices Consistently Jump the Track
B-to-B marketers juggle an astonishing array of tactics across conventional and online channels to engage increasingly sophisticated, Web-savvy and demanding buyers. When we compared tactic popularity against what respondents told us about how well each tactic fared in building brand awareness or generating leads, we unearthed some interesting insights and trends.
When describing how effectively different tactics build brand or generate demand, most marketers admit that much of the marketing mix fails to deliver the returns they expect. Leaning on the same old things year after year—public relations and television for awareness, and executive events and inside sales for leads—locks marketing execs in an endless loop of fighting off budget cuts and justifying marketing spending plans. Over a multiyear period, we found that marketers believe PR and trade shows outperform other channels when building brand. However, PR’s effectiveness index—as measured by factoring popularity and perceived results—declined during this period.
The increase in nontraditional influence sources, such as bloggers and customer ratings, diminishes the value of established marketing communications vehicles like press releases and editorial coverage. In contrast, trade show indexes gained ground, as sales likes to press the flesh in these venues and buyers circle exhibit halls gauging product buzz. Face-to-face interactions help close deals in B-to-B selling. More than half of business marketers who use intimate, high-touch events rate them consistently high for generating leads. The big loser? Print: Our results echo the steep declines seen elsewhere in the media and advertising industry.
The Digital Train Is Leaving the Station
B-to-B marketers must find ways to make the marketing mix produce sales-ready results as the economic slowdown persists through 2009. As they scale back on high-priced tactics like trade shows, direct mail and print, marketers will have no choice but to embrace digital channels to close the demand generation gap. Luckily, survey respondents have heard the interactive whistle blowing, as most now put online channels at the top of their lists this year.