I have been putting some thought into "advertising" these days. My compulsion is the mix of annual budgeting time, cost-cutting (in this global recession world), web2.0, and the need to differentiate my brand.
When I think of advertising (with my traditional brain) I conjure up the MAIN (commercial) way that I (did) promote my products and services. But, with my modern brain in gear, and with the question reversed ("how best to promote my products and services"), "advertising" falls low on my list.
- I don't want to advertise, I want to SELL.
- Selling is enhanced via a mix of promotional activities (advertising being just one) that leads to my customer being CONVINCED that my option is in her best interest.
- B2B customers increasingly distrust advertising.
OK - so it makes better sense to think "promotions". Some elements of the elements of a promotions campaign are1:
- advertising (print ads, banner ads, etc.)
- personal sales (indirect, direct, face-to-face, ecommerce, etc.)
- sales enhancements (coupons, sales, etc.)
- display (signage at events, exhibitions, etc.)
- public relations (press releases, news items, volunteering, etc.)
- publicity (technology sessions, etc.)
I'd add to that things like word of mouth, search engine marketing, social media, etc.
It is important to understand the value and applicability of each type of promotion in the B2B (vs B2C) arena. This concept is supported by this graph (Figure #1) from b2binternational.com2. The author goes on to ask a very simple yet poignant question, which is:
"... how (do) people get to know about your products ..."?
The answer is, your varied forms of promotion.
Figure #2: DAGMAR process (ciadvertising.org)
B2B customers, at least mine, are an extremely educated and discerning bunch. They are trained to have a very unique thought process - their own special version of the DAGMAR process3. Their version of the process (see Figure #2) emphasizes the CONVICTION phase heavily. They go way beyond "knowledge" (a mere starting point for these brainiacs) and spend much of their time in the engineering analysis, lab investigation, production line proving arena so the product can EARN their conviction.
Engineers and scientists are trained to form hypotheses, develop appropriate tests, generate valid data, and make informed, thorough, and intelligent decisions from there. The worst sin an engineer can make is to be seduced into "liking" or "preferring" a product based on an advertisement. In the "think, feel, do" world, these individuals are all "do".
Thus, I conclude, that in the B2B Marcom arena, "advertising" is ranked very low in my arsenal of promotional tools. To earn a customer's conviction to my products I find it much more valuable to make clear, supported claims, with access to both our data, our technologists, and samples of my products. My form of promotion relies heavily on blogging, white papers, technology sessions, training, consultations, sample implementation programs, and the like.
I'd like to know your opinion on "advertising" versus "promotions" in the B2B Marcom world.