DMA enhancing b-to-b services

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It’s not your father’s Direct Marketing Association any more. With marketers now spending more to reach businesses than consumers, the DMA in the last few months has rolled out several programs and services to help b-to-b marketers.

These include a new Web site designed exclusively for b-to-b players, a series of marketing seminars and the publication of a lead generation handbook that includes a directory of more than 600 suppliers.

Dave Smith, the DMA’s senior VP-marketing and business development, recently discussed the organization’s new b-to-b initiatives.

BtoB: The DMA last year launched a separate Web site for b-to-b marketers []. How have b-to-b marketers responded to the site? Are they requesting any new services?

Smith: They’ve responded very well. For the first time, b-to-b marketers have one place to go to find information on how to market better and how to plan events and conferences and seminars, for example. One thing we’re making available, as a free service, is all the content from DMA speakers that also runs in our newsletters. The feedback has been positive because [the site] is providing a convenience for b-to-b marketers. But, as we launch more products and services, we’ll be getting more feedback.

BtoB: Talk about the DMA’s b-to-b seminar series, which launched in early April. Is it the first of its kind at the DMA? How will it help marketers obtain greater profitability in the b-to-b marketplace?

Smith: It’s divided into two parts. One is the fundamentals of b-to-b direct marketing, which is how to integrate direct and data marketing into an overall marketing plan. It’s a basic course focusing on developing the skills needed to be a well-rounded direct marketer. The second element focuses on lead generation and how to help the senior level marketer drive sales with proven ROI techniques.

BtoB: The latest DMA e-commerce report showed that a growing number of companies are starting to define themselves as hybrids, targeting both the b-to-b and business-to-consumer markets. Are we entering an era where the terms "b-to-b" and "b-to-c" don’t mean as much as they once did?

Smith: More b-to-c companies are getting into the b-to-b market to enhance their revenue streams. And, to a lesser degree, b-to-b companies are trying to sell direct to the consumer. Lands’ End is a great example of a consumer company targeting b-to-b companies [by producing embroidered corporate logo shirts]. Staples is an example of a company going the other way, whereby they’re directly targeting the consumer/ SOHO [small office-home office] marketplace, as opposed to selling direct to larger enterprises.

BtoB: A recent DMA study shows companies are investing more in lead generation than, say, advertising or Web development. Does this mean that b-to-b marketing campaigns will be getting shorter shrift in the future? What is the state of integrated campaigns in the current climate?

Smith: Integrated campaigns—whether it’s an ad with an 800 number or a free white paper on a relevant topic or a CD-ROM with product information—are the best way to generate leads. A lot of what I’ve been hearing is "back to basics" in marketing, and not what’s the latest, hottest craze. It’s still a matter of testing to find out what works, rolling it out and following up to make sure it’s done correctly. It’s not rocket science.

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