C-level execs remain elusive for b-to-b marketers

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C-level executives remain a hard-to-reach b-to-b audience, but relevance and exemplary service may give marketers the edge they need to gain and keep them as customers, according to Ipsos Media's "U.S. Business Elite Survey," published last Tuesday.

"[C-level executives] have a broad media repertoire, and they pick and choose from among their media alternatives depending on what information they are looking for at the time," said David Lucas, director of international media at the Ipsos Group, parent company of Ipsos Media. "For marketers and agencies, it's about using that information to plan the expenditure of their budget in the most efficient way to reach these people at a time and place, and the right channel, that is most likely to get them noticed."

According to the survey, newspapers are an important part of the executives' daily routines. Almost half (46%) read The Wall Street Journal, while 30% read USA Today and 14% regularly read The New York Times . Nineteen percent cited newspapers as having the most actionable and credible advertising, compared with the Internet, at 3%. Sixteen percent said newspapers have the "most informative advertising."

One-fifth of top business executives use the Internet as their first stop for business news, and about a quarter (24%) say it is the first place they look for financial news, according to the survey. CNN is most popular among online news sites, cited by 11%, followed by MSNBC, with 8%.

Twenty-nine percent of U.S. executives surveyed have adopted mobile devices for media and communications, putting them ahead of their European and Asian counterparts.

Find them on the go

"Mobile devices like BlackBerrys have a much higher penetration here than they do in the U.K., Europe and Asia," Lucas said.

He added that many publishers aren't capitalizing on the Web as an alternative to print advertising. "There's a big opportunity there for publishers who are particularly suffering from circulation declines in their traditional [print products]," he said. "I'm not sure publishers have figured out yet how to make that happen, in terms of how they attract readers to their Web site and what type of content they provide online versus what they provide in the publication, such that it forces users to need to use both alternatives."

The challenge is to recognize the role each medium plays, so that news and advertising are compelling, he said.

Almost half (44%) of respondents said they were not concerned whether suppliers have well-known brands. What is important, the survey indicated, are good working relationships and satisfaction with the suppliers' products and services. Seventy-nine percent of C-level executives said they like to build long-term relationships with suppliers.

Victoria Duff, founder and CEO of business consulting company, and a partner in The Hive, a wireless media incubator, is an executive who represents several of the trends revealed in the survey.

"My major source of news is the Internet," she said, pointing in particular to the Yahoo! portal. She also accesses the Internet on her cellphone.

Duff said she is not a good candidate for advertising pitches; in fact, she said, she is figuring out ways to remove advertising from her life. She blocks pop-up ads online, and said she "snarls" at people who call her on the phone.

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