When there was just print media there were a few ways to go, but online media is bringing a diversity of communication opportunities that calls for a review of marketing strategy.
In our recent series of blogs discussing budgets we noted how traditional display advertising was still a big ticket item, if not the biggest, for many b-2-b marketing budgets. Similarly exhibitions continue as a major call on budget and resources, although there is a noticeable trend away from printed brochures, preferring short runs, digital print or simply offering PDFs for download. Typically everything to do with online media is lumped together with the web site budget. But this budget line is actually concealing a rapidly expanding sector and new ways to reach your target audience.
The traditional approach to b-2-b advertising is to identify the leading journals for the sector that reach the target audience most effectively and book display ads. A lot of people still do. But there are now several different ways to go. Banner advertising is probably the nearest to display advertising and apart from providing visibility on relevant sites additionally offers a link to click through to the advertiser's web site or landing page. However it is argued that click through rates have fallen and are now 0.2% to 0.3% and banners are ignored anyway. But then again are readers responding to display ads as much as they did in trade journals? Adwords work in a different way and are displayed when chosen keywords are triggered by a search and require time, effort and expertise to run a successful campaign. Social media sites display advertising relevant to user profiles and location. So three different approaches to paid for online advertising to consider - display banners placed on sites prospects visit such as industry portals, Adwords displayed in response to keyword search terms and advertisements displayed to social media users who match the target audience profile. In reviewing media plans it makes sense to bring the online media into the advertising planning and budget rather than tucked away as a web site expense.
Similarly PR has changed as discussed in a recent blog. With traditional print the editor chose whether or not to use your press release, although in many trade magazines you can pay to get it printed by buying the editorial space. Now however you can be the publisher. An online news office allows you to publish all your company's formal announcements without editorial rejection. Social media offers the opportunity for informal communications, the chance to engage in conversations with customers and prospects. Blogs are good for a more personal style of communications and offer the opportunity for readers to comment on your blog and provide feedback. Twitter lends itself to headline communications and short links to a blog or other content. YouTube is great for actually showing product, but the real dilemma for b-2-b is the much discussed Facebook. More traditional clients shudder at the idea of associating their brand with Facebook while others enthuse - does the 'status' of an engineering company really interest users?
There are other examples such as traditional print mail shots v html email, eNews v printed newsletters - it all adds up to a game changer. Whether we are witnessing a gradual transition from print to online, or a greater diversity of advertising, publishing and communication opportunities it makes sense to consider the communications techniques as a whole and decide what mix and balance there should be between print and online.