B-to-B Insights: B-to-B Marketing in 1978 vs. 2008
The Decline of Print Advertising. Whenever we wanted to promote a product, running an ad for the item was a no-brainer. It was automatically assumed you’d advertise. The questions were where, when, how frequently and with how much in your budget. Today, print advertising is rarely the primary B-to-B marketing medium. For many B-to-B marketers, it’s not even on the radar. More likely to be considered: paid search, search engine optimization (to make your site more easily found) and e-mail marketing.
The Effectiveness of Planted Feature Articles. Writing articles for industry publications was, indeed, an effective marketing strategy. I knew a guy who had a boutique PR agency that did nothing but ghostwrite and place feature stories for clients. Typically the articles were bylined by engineers. Today, despite the supposed decline of the printed word, writing articles for trade publications remains one of the most potent
B-to-B marketing tactics. Writing online articles for Web sites and e-zines may generate more clicks and traffic, but in many markets, a bylined article in the leading industry magazine still has more credibility and clout—and the reprints make terrific sales literature.
The Shrinking Importance of Old-Fashioned PR. In the heyday of print, each industry was covered globally by too many trade publications and newsletters for most marcom managers to count. So they hired B-to-B PR firms to make sure their products got as much coverage as possible. But in the 1990s and 2000s, publishing underwent a consolidation, with the number of publications serving each industry declining significantly. When marcom managers saw there were only a few publications in their markets, many decided they could do PR in-house, and numerous small B-to-B PR firms either folded or saw billings decline.
The Demise of the Sales Brochure. For many years, I wrote sales brochures. These were slick, glossy affairs with expensive photography and high-end graphic design. Clients with new products to tout usually wanted multiple brochures, ranging from four to 16 pages, covering different applications or markets. Today’s sales literature primarily resides on the Web as pages accessible through a company’s site and through search. Fewer and fewer print brochures are produced, and those that are being published are shrinking in size, with the most common format today being the two-sided, 8½˝ x 11˝ “sell sheet.”
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.