Joint study by ABM, ANA offers direction to b-to-b media companies

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More than two-thirds of b-to-b marketers plan to decrease spending on print advertising in the next “two to three years,” according to “The B-to-B Marketing Leadership Study,” which was released last week.

On the other hand, the same study found that 67% of b-to-b marketers plan to increase spending on social media efforts in the same time frame. Additionally, 64% of the study's respondents said they planned to boost digital spending.

The study was conducted jointly by American Business Media, the Association of National Advertisers and consulting firm Booz & Co. Among the purposes of the research is to help b-to-b media companies grow their businesses in this time of transformation of the industry.

The study was conducted online earlier this year and included the responses of 132 marketing executives in such industries as energy, manufacturing and technology. Marketers from FedEx Corp., IBM Corp. and Siemens participated in the study.

Clearly, the study shows that print advertising revenue is not a growth area for b-to-b media companies, but the research also indicated that there are areas where marketers are increasing their budgets. Matt Egol, a Booz & Co. partner who led the research, identified several places where those intersected with the services offered by b-to-b media companies.

In the study, b-to-b marketers identified a handful of marketing objectives that Egol believes fit well with the offerings of b-to-b media companies. In particular, 87% of study respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “building deeper insights into their client base” was an important marketing objective.

Similarly, a large percentage of marketers agreed that the following were important objectives:

  • Developing custom content (82%).
  • Building client contacts for business development (76%).
  • Engaging regularly with clients to build relationships (74%).
Egol said b-to-b media companies are well-positioned to help marketers achieve these objectives. He said they have relationships with potential buyers in their vertical industries that can help marketers' achieve three objectives: building deeper insights into the client base, building client contacts for business development and engaging regularly with clients to build relationships.

Additionally, he said, b-to-b media companies have experience in creating custom content craved by marketers.

The research also indicated that the move by marketers in this direction will only accelerate. The companies that were self-identified in the study as leaders in b-to-b marketing were moving at a faster clip into digital efforts than self-identified laggards. For instance, 78% of marketing leaders agreed that developing innovative marketing activities around e-platforms was an important objective, while 53% of nonleaders agreed. Similarly, 57% of marketing leaders agreed that engaging with clients via social media was important, but just 41% of nonleaders agreed.

In a webcast summarizing the findings, Egol said b-to-b media companies that are not moving in this direction with marketers would find themselves “sitting on the sidelines.”

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