What’s Working in B2B Marketing?

When I got my first job in business-to-business marketing in 1979, the most important marcom tools were, in this order:

A. Product brochures.
B. Corporate capabilities brochure.
C. Product data sheets.
D. Bylined articles in trade journals.
E. Application briefs.
F. Case studies.
G. Ads in trade journals.
H. Trade show exhibits.

Today, A and B seem to have vanished, but C through F still exist — if not in print than at least online. G and H also exist, but seem diminished in importance and effectiveness.

If I were to attempt to compile a list of the most effective B2B marketing communications today, it might look something like this:

A. Company Web site.
B. Search engine optimization.
C. Online ads.
D. White papers.

Would you modify my list above? What am I missing? What REALLY works like gangbusters in your B2B marketing today?


32 thoughts on “What’s Working in B2B Marketing?

  • Having started a new endeavor, search has been most productive at getting folks to my site. There, they download my white paper more than anything else. So, I’d vote for those to marketing strategies.

  • One of my clients, a company selling technical products for industry, is having good results from a quarterly newsletter that we produce in hard copy, in HTML version and post on their site. It gets mailed to key customers & prospects and is one of a few “leave-behind” items the sales people use. It has raised company morale and increased interest in the company by prospects. I believe that a variety of well-crafted materials is still needed to raise and keep a corporate profile. I don’t believe in one quick easy fix.

  • In B2B, direct mail is still the king of prospecting. I would look at on-line ads only if my audience was difficult to profile precisely or too large to reach by mail.

    Email has emerged as the choice for conversion, retention and reactivation.

    Search engine optimization make sense in most cases, but if you market to a very small audience, it wouldn’t be my highest priority.

    White papers make sense as do articles and speaking engagements.

    Bob McCarthy
    McCarthy & King Marketing

  • A, B, C & D above make sense but it really depends on the product and the market you’re selling into. One client for instance has a product that works in a new way compared to its competition. The product has to be demonstrated at trade shows for the prospects to understand the benefits and ease of use. Case studies and corporate capabilities brochures are most effective for a client selling highly specialized chemicals and services. Product brochures and data sheets worked well for a client selling a line extension for an established brand into supermarket chains.

  • Here are my additions to the list:

    — Lead gen letters (old-fashioned, but they work very well)
    — Case studies
    — Email (to an in-house opt-in list)
    — Podcasts
    — Webinars
    — Articles (in ezines, mags, online pubs, etc.)
    — Online press releases
    — Short very targeted specialty brochures (sell sheets, application sheets, etc.). Usually one or two pages.

    You already mentioned online ads but… direct-response ads in targeted ezines are also working very well.

    And improving the copy on offer pages on websites can dramatically increase leads generated.

  • The communications mix is changing, and I would add following as techniques that have been proven to work for us:
    – Blogs
    – Webinars (at least for image building & lead generation)
    – Software tools & interactive animations (for technical marketing)
    – Email marketing still works, but not as it used to

    Application briefs remain very popular in our sector, as are case studies.

    Technical articles in the trade press, and trade fairs are declining. For trade fairs, it’s probably worthwhile to distinguish between information trade fairs (rapidly declining) and networking/business trade fairs, of which some are thriving.

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