B-to-B Insights: B-to-B Marketing in 1978 vs. 2008
I started my career in B-to-B marketing in the late 1970s, and by the early 1980s I thought I had a pretty good handle on the basics.
I believed I could continue to use the methods I’d learned during my first few years for the rest of my life. Boy, was I wrong.
First came the fax machine, then the personal computer, cell phones, whitepapers, the Internet, search engines, blogging, webinars and social networks, to name a few. B-to-B marketing had become a brave new world—a world in which most of us struggle every day just to keep up. Here are some of the biggest changes that have taken place in B-to-B marketing during the past three decades—and what has stayed relatively the same.
The Death of “Industrial Marketing.” B-to-B used to be called industrial marketing. Gradually, industrial marketing changed to business marketing and then to B-to-B.
From Tactical to Strategic. Before the widespread use of the Internet, B-to-B marketing had relatively few avenues in which to prosper. This made planning campaigns simple and straightforward. You’d create a sales brochure, run a trade ad, send out a few press releases and try to get a feature article written about it in the industry trade publications. Today, there are dozens of other marketing methods, and a number of the early communications tools have been supplanted by new media such as
e-newsletters, webinars, podcasts and vertical search engines.
As a result, B-to-B marketers have to decide how to divide their limited budgets and time among these new communications vehicles. So planning a B-to-B marcom campaign is infinitely more complex.
The End of the Industrial Film, Slide Shows and 35 mm Photography. At Westinghouse Aerospace, where I worked in the late 1970s, I produced my first audio/visual promotion on 16 mm film. Soon afterwards, film declined and everything then was shot in video. At Westinghouse there was a department that did nothing but produce slides for presentations. That’s how managers got their slides done. Today, nearly everyone has PowerPoint and can produce his own slide shows on his PC. Also at Westinghouse we had a full-time photographer. Pete was a skilled professional who took photos of products, processes and installations with a
35 mm camera. Today, film largely has disappeared and been replaced by digital photography. And anyone who owns a digital camera thinks he’s as good a photographer as Pete.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.