Survey confirms marketers are moving beyond print

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When the economy recovers, b-to-b marketers won't all be rushing to return their print advertising spending to pre-recession levels.

An online survey of 123 marketing executives and CEOs conducted the last week of September by Media Business found that 43.9% plan to spend less on print advertising when the economy recovers than they did before the recession. By comparison, 19.5% said they would spend more on print advertising; 36.6% said they would spend the same amount.

Not surprising, the overall survey results show b-to-b marketers are embracing online and other targeted marketing opportunities in place of more traditional and broader-reach channels, such as print advertising and trade shows.

The survey asked b-to-b marketers to rate eight communications channels on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being “most important” and 4, “least important.” The lower the average score, the higher the marketers rated the category.

Here's how they rated various marcom channels: online (1.51), intimate events (1.90), webcasts (2.19), white papers (2.24), trade shows (2.36), custom publications (2.51), print (2.53) and virtual trade shows (3.13).

The responses indicate a tendency among marketers to focus on targeted media that produce leads. The top four certainly fit this description.

The results also show that traditional formats such as trade shows and print do not currently capture the confidence—or the imagination—of b-to-b marketers. The jury is still out regarding how much of this disaffection with the traditional marcom channels is related to the recession and how much represents a permanent change.

The results also revealed that marketers are not embracing every digital marketing technique. They appear skeptical of virtual trade shows, with 40.8% placing that relatively new marketing technique in the “least important” category.

The survey findings show that marketers are open to working with b-to-b media companies in ways that go far beyond placing print advertising or exhibiting at trade shows. For example, only 14.6% of respondents said research services from b-to-b media companies were “not important.” Conversely, the remainder said research services were “moderately important” or “very important.” Similarly, only 16.3% said marketing services offered by b-to-b media companies were “not important.”

The survey results also show that b-to-b media companies have room for improvement—and likely room for revenue growth—in a number of areas. Regarding database services from media companies, 47.5% of respondents said they were not receiving enough support from their trade publishing partner.

Additionally, 30.9% said trade publishers' lead generation programs were “not useful.” And almost 40% said they were either “not satisfied” (35.5%) with trade publishers' return on investment measurement or thought it was “terrible” (4.1%).

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