As a result of the decline in print advertising and concurrent rise of new media channels, b-to-b media companies are aggressively moving to develop marketing services departments to draw their brands closer to customers.
The latest to take the plunge: 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group (ECG). In late January, the group introduced Smart Markets.
ECG's portfolio includes five magazines, 18 newsletters, 20 websites and several events, including Visual Studio Live, Techmentor and the recently launched Live 360 Events. Combined, these assets serve more than 1 million IT pros, developers and channel partners each month.
Smart Markets will tap into ECG's portfolio to provide its clients with such marketing services as content curation, strategy, website creation, lead-generation programs, advertising creative, brand building and product launches.
“It's kind of a one-stop shop,” said Henry Allain, president of 1105 Media's ECG. “Not only can we take your money to give you space in a magazine, or on a website or an exhibit at an event, we can help you with the entire program—from content, to branding to creative—and then we'll overlay that on our media brands.”
He said the marketing services unit should be a boon to 1105 Media's ability to better serve its customers and prospects.
“I see it helping our products because now we've got a more compelling reason for advertisers to use us,” Allain said. “It's always really important for an advertiser to fully understand not only the customers and the audiences that a b-to-b publisher has but also the best way to talk to them.”
He added that he sees no danger of cannibalization from the marketing services unit. “We'll do our best to hold our [ad] rates. All of these services are add-on services,” Allain said.
IDG, which was one of the first business publishers to enter the marketing services arena, continues to extend its line of customized products and services.
Last month, IDG introduced a new online lead-generation program (IDG Target Account 360) that helps b-to-b technology marketers generate leads from the world's 2,000 largest companies as compiled by Forbes.
IDG is also ramping up its social marketing efforts. In November, it launched a community and content website for Dell. The New Fulcrum Point site features original content, curated content from the Web, news from such IDG brands as CIO, Computerworld and Network World, and contributions from analysts and bloggers.
“The whole market landscape has required advertisers and media companies alike to be extremely fluid,” said Charles Lee, senior VP-strategic marketing services and custom solutions at IDG. “Agility is key [and] time to market is key because everything moves and changes so fast—which is entirely driven by the whole nature of the digital, social and mobile platforms.”
Thomas Industrial Network, which works with industrial marketers, is also shifting to offering its customers more marketing-related services.
In March, the company debuted an email marketing service to help its clients reach their target audiences. The service, part of a new digital media solutions group inroduced last year, runs the email gamut: strategy, design, content creation, tracking, reporting and analytics.
Thomas developed the program after its “Industrial Purchasing Barometer” survey indicated that 52% of industrial product buyers visit suppliers' websites in response to email promotions, said Phil Paranicas, director of digital media at Thomas Industrial Network.
“Many industrial companies, particularly in the SMB space, have the challenge of keeping their name, their brand, in front of their clients on a regular basis,” Paranicas said. “They need to be sure that they're top-of-mind when their contacts are getting ready to make a purchase.”