Is b-to-b dead? Excuse me! Absolutely not

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I was walking down the street in Manhattan after a successful BtoB integrated marketing breakfast recently, when an executive from a PR firm asked me if we were going to change the name of our magazine "now that b-to-b is dead." Once I got over my shock, I realized that some people think, erroneously, that b-to-b means the same thing as the large numbers of hobbled b-to-b dot-com stocks that everybody piled money into last year.

Business-to-business is not a new industry. It didn’t just pop up like one of those online ads. B-to-b has been a huge segment of the economy for more than a hundred years, and will be for the next hundred.

And the b-to-b industry, its sales and marketing, is what we cover in BtoB. True, the nature of b-to-b has changed quite a bit in the last few years, and it’s continuing to change. But that’s exciting.

All the changes that began to occur in the late ‘90s are what caused us to change our name and relaunch Business Marketing—a title that had existed under different names as part of Crain Communications Inc. since 1917.

The Internet and new related technologies have become a very important part of the sales and marketing strategies of b-to-b companies, large and small. Integrated marketing , while not a new practice, has been made much more powerful, thanks to the Internet and other new technologies.

Last year, online b-to-b e-commerce was $226 billion, and is expected to be $1.5 trillion by the year 2003, according to Internet research firm e-Marketer Inc. That’s a lot of business.

What savvy marketer is not using the Internet as part of his or her marketing strategy? It’s the integrated marketing arena that is exploding, and it’s the mix of traditional b-to-b channels of communication and sales, side by side with new marketing techniques, that gives all of us something new to learn every week.

B-to-b is alive, more interesting, more compelling and ultimately more profitable than ever. We just need to get over the Nasdaq debacle, and get past this economic downturn, to realize the end results of all the new integrated marketing techniques.

B-to-b marketers who ignore the changes will find themselves obsolete. But, just as likely, marketers who throw away traditional b-to-b sales and marketing channels will be surpassed by organizations that effectively integrate their online and offline strategies.

And no, we aren’t changing our name. It’s BtoB, and we are proud of it.

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