Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe …

Today, B-to-B marketers are faced with a bewildering variety of choices when it comes to choosing how they will communicate with prospects. Let’s look at the options and how you can select a medium that’s appropriate for your product and your audience.

Space Ads: Although print advertising has fallen out of favor, it can still be effective, especially when targeted to niche audiences. So, should B-to-B marketers consider advertising in magazines?

Let’s say you’re a marketer selling valves and your target audience is chemical engineers. There are at least two major trade publications serving that field, Chemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Progress. Most chemical engineers read at least one of these two publications, so a space ad running in both would make sense.

One guideline to remember: If a target market has its own trade publication, that’s probably a cost-efficient and effective way to reach the audience you desire. So trade publication advertising is a medium worth testing. Start with a quarter-page ad, and if it works, scale up to a half or a full-page advertisement.

On the other hand, what if you wanted to advertise valves for sulfuric acid plants? Only a small fraction of the readers of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Progress work in sulfuric acid plants, so advertising in those publications would give you a huge amount of wasted circulation because most people who would read the ad are not prospects.

What’s the solution? See if either publication can identify subscribers by the type of plant or operation they work in. If the magazine(s) will rent you a list of subscribers working at sulfuric acid plants, you can reach them through direct mail.

• Direct Mail: Should the mailing be plain and simple or expensive and elaborate? That depends on how many names are on the list. The guidelines here are as follows: 1) the higher up the prospect is on the corporate ladder, the more impactful the mailer has to be; and 2) the smaller the target market, the more you can afford to spend on each mail piece.

Let’s say your target audience comprises the CEOs of the 200 largest automobile industry companies. If you spend $10 per unit for a dimensional mailing, your total mailing cost is only $2,000. Generally, expensive dimensional mailings (i.e., bulky envelopes that contain an object) are within the marketer’s budget if the size of the list is a few thousand names or fewer.

If the list has tens of thousands of names and postal addresses for them, a more standard direct mail package—either a #10 envelope package or a self-mailer—is probably your best choice for reaching them with impact and affordably.

• Social Media: In many industries, there are a few influential bloggers who hold sway over surprisingly large and active audiences. Assemble a list of the top bloggers in your field and make sure they receive your press releases. More important, read and participate in these blogs, and alert them first when you have an interesting new story to tell.

Another good place online to subtly promote yourself, your products, and your company is LinkedIn discussion groups. LinkedIn shows you which discussions on the group are the most active, so find and join the discussion groups in your niche. Participate in multiple discussions and in more than one group for effective coverage, but do not try to sell outright. Instead, establish yourself as a subject matter expert.

• Email and Online Space Ads: What about email marketing? There are only two types of lists you should email to: 1) outside opt-in e-lists, which are typically rented by list brokers; and 2) your house file of opt-in names.

Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at or call (973) 263-0562.

Publish date: April 1, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT