Companies use in-house assets normally reserved for customers to beef up marketing
B-to-b media companies are bringing more services to their clients than ever before—print, online, events, business information, custom media and combinations of those. For their own marketing programs, however, b-to-b media companies haven't always applied the same level of expertise they have provided to customers.
That's changing, though, as b-to-b media and information companies dig deep to use every asset they have during this time of digital transformation and economic uncertainty.
At McGraw-Hill Construction, “we made a big shift away from traditional marketing,” said Norbert Young Jr., president of the division. “We're using our database of construction projects the way our customers are.”
In the past, McGraw-Hill Construction bought lists and blanketed the market with typical direct marketing pieces. “Now, we are using our database to find our most valuable customers and target "lookalike' prospects—companies with similar demographics—with mailings, online marketing and sales calls,” Young said.
Young has redeployed resources rather than increasing his budget. One of the bigger investments has been in “new talented people who are better at database mining, which is not a traditional marketing role.”
Young said his group has produced sales growth in the commercial design and construction market, which, although it's not as troubled as residential construction, has had some “soft pockets.”
Young said it's too soon to quantify exact results. “We're developing our own ROI calculators for the various approaches. We're still learning.”
At TechWeb's InformationWeek Business Technology Network (IWBTN), a division of United Business Media, the marketing investment and “fuel mix” have been undergoing a transformation over the past three-plus years, said Scott Vaughan, VP-marketing services.
The team at IWBTN is treating its own marketing plans with the same seriousness and creativity as any client's. “We're focused on branded response marketing through high-value content and thought leadership,” Vaughan said.
The linchpin of this strategy is a destination Web site for b-to-b technology marketers and media planners called CreateYourNextCustomer.com, which debuted in June.
Sherbrooke Balser, director of marketing, said the site represents a shift away from traditional one-way communication to an on-demand model. “Technology marketers are working on much shorter time frames than ever before,” she said. “They want to interact with our services more frequently, more dynamically and anytime they want.”
One of CreateYourNextCustomer.com's most prominent features is its interactive Tech Marketing Widget, an online tool designed to help marketers and planners customize campaigns—and a lead-generation mechanism for IWBTN. After users select a marketing objective, a target market and a media platform from pull-down menus, the widget automatically returns one or more tailored program suggestions. To get to the next step, a prospect clicks the Contact Me button and fills out a basic form to e-mail to IWBTN.
Michelle Mitchell, group marketing director for Questex Media Group, said: “Questex sees the value marketing plays in the overall sales process and has recently ramped up investment in this area.”
Next year, Mitchell plans to maximize the effectiveness of her marketing budget through research. “Our focus is to arm the sales teams with the right tools to effectively demonstrate to customers and prospects that we have the right audience—and that the audience is extremely engaged with our brands,” she said.
Mitchell is responsible for 12 titles, each with its own marketing budget. “I anticipate our 2009 spending will be roughly the same as in '08 or perhaps increase slightly,” she said. The new audience research will provide salespeople with more data on readers, site users and event attendees, including their purchasing plans, purchasing power and time spent online and in print. “We want to provide a full package that shows marketers that the audiences they want to reach are engaged with us on all platforms,” she added. M