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BtoB

Are our clients our new competitors?

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Chances are you have noticed a new competitor in your daily travels—your clients. Yes, when it comes to producing content and events, often the new players in b-to-b vertical industries are the marketers themselves. Their websites, user events and custom content all compete directly with our own products and events. Last month at the ABM Executive Forum in Chicago, we heard from marketers that are driving content themselves. George Stenitzer, VP-marketing and corporate communications at Tellabs, said he prefers to use custom content from the best editors and reporters in the telecom field. So he has Penton Media produce some of Tellabs' custom content under his direction. Bridget Fletcher, director-suite marketing at Adobe Systems, discussed her decision to hire former tech editor Tim Moran to run the content on the company's CMO.com website. About 20% of the content on the site is original and produced just as a media company would. Is this real competition? Well, it steals eyeballs. But even more, it drains marketers' budgets, so they are left with less money to spend with our companies. Of course, one big opportunity for us here is to become the custom content provider. The corporate marketer as both advertiser and competitor is a trend that will continue. It's our job to make sure we produce better content and stick to our principles. In the end, their content may end up being self-serving, and readers will always prefer the credible voice we offer. Bob Felsenthal can be reached at bfelsenthal@crain.com.
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