I freed myself from the office for a breakfast seminar sponsored by BtoB Magazine and was glad I did. Not only were the networking opportunities excellent, but the comments from IT vendors Cognos (now part of IBM), Motorola and Novell said a lot about where the dollars are flowing in business to business tech marketing.


Marketing executives from all three firms said their marketing budgets are flat this year, which is no surprise given the economy. All three also said they’re devoting less money to print and more to online – again, no surprise. What did strike me was how far along all three are in the shift from print to on-line marketing, and the sophistication of both the content they’re producing and their tracking of prospects.


Belinda Hudmon, Director of Interactive and Relationship Marketing for Motorola, displayed a page on the Moto site that shows a bird’s-eye view of a futuristic city with pointers for various government functions such as “evacuation” and “campus security.” Clicking on the “threat surveillance” tab launches an animated zoom down city streets and into a subway station with a suspicious backpack left on a bench. Clicking on various items in the scene – say, the Motorola radio cradled in the hand of the scruffy undercover cop – brought up a spec sheet describing the product.


Drew Clarke, vice president of Americas Marketing and Field Operations for Cognos (now part of IBM) startled me, at least, by saying Cognos has abandoned print direct mail completely in favor of on-line marketing tools. These include sophisticated tracking of which prospects take specific actions, such as downloading a white paper or viewing a product demo on-line. One insight: The prospects most likely to make a purchase take three such actions within ten days. Fewer than three actions means they’re not interested enough to buy; more than three means they might be a tire-kicker, student, or (my guess)  even a journalist looking for background rather than a serious prospect.


Suffice it to say that blogs and email campaigns are just the beginning of on-line marketing. Major IT vendors are already using sophisticated tools to track the reading habits of potential buyers and producing ever higher-quality content to move those customers through the sales cycle. Anyone in PR and marketing who isn’t learning how to really exploit the new B2B on-line marketing world is in danger of getting left behind.



Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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