ABM/Forrester Survey Validates the Triple Crown of Marketing: Events, Print and Online Media

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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New York, NY – The triad of live events, print publications and online offerings is generating the desired effect when it comes to reaching the coveted audience of decision-makers in the business world.

A detailed survey of nearly 900 business decision-makers conducted by American Business Media (ABM) and Forrester Research found that these men and women indeed are gravitating to trade shows, B-to-B media and Websites that are specific to their industry, and are likely to continue to do so in the future.

The Forrester report, The Digital Transformation, is the latest empirical evidence of a positive ROI for live events that are bolstered by business-specific publications and Websites aimed at specialized industry sectors.  “What publishers are finding—and this data helps bring forth that conclusion—is that when you can offer a unique combination of event, print and digital media to marketers, your chance of reaching the decision-makers and reinforcing their decision-making processes increases exponentially,” said Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester.

Avid Audience for Industry News

The marketing community has been bullish on the full-court press of events, print and digital media in recent years.  Ramos said the new report proves that executives who make the actual purchasing decisions for their companies are enthusiastically getting on the triple-crown bandwagon.

The survey documented that the vast majority of the respondents, in fact, were increasingly turning to business media as a trusted and primary source of news relevant to their industries.  “We asked questions about whether they spent more time or thought more about the content of industry-specific media as compared to other types of media,” Ramos said.  “The fact is, more than 80% said they spent more time reading the content in their industry-specific media.  And note that it was not enough for them to simply say, ‘Yes, we get that magazine and we read it.’ We asked them if they were really paying attention to it.”

A major factor in the lure of industry-specific media is the perception by decision makers that that is a reliable place for them to find objective news about their specific business sector.  Although only 9% saw the actual trade show as a font of objective news, 22% still considered trade shows to be the best source of information on new products.  And 44% used events to confirm that they were making correct purchasing decisions.

Convincing Budget Argument

Ramos told Trade Show Executive that since the value of money spent on live events and distinctive B-to-B publications has now been established, she believes marketers will be less apt to budget their funds on general business publications and major Web portals.  “The opportunity now is for decision-makers to shift their dollars away from weaker areas to their own bailiwick,” she said.

Among the findings of The Digital Transformation report:

◦  The specific media used most by business decision-makers to help them in their jobs:
◦  Industry-specific B-to-B magazines, 69%
◦  Word-of-mouth advice from peers, 67%
◦  Business-specific conferences, 65%
◦  Industry-specific trade shows, 62%
◦  Decision-makers who attended three or more trade shows or conferences annually: 51%
◦  Decision-makers who spent at least five days at trade shows or conferences annually: 58%
◦  Marketers who see multi-platform campaigns as essential to reaching their target audience: 93%
◦  Decision-makers that say product recognition increases when it is present across multiple platforms: a whopping 91%
◦  Marketers who see face-to-face events as making their sales staff more effective: an overwhelming 96%
◦  Media that will be used most by decision-makers in 2009:
◦  Industry-specific trade shows and conferences, 45%
◦  Industry-specific magazines, 44%

Taken together, the Forrester report’s findings show that trade shows, print publications and online have formed a powerful, monolithic link among trade show organizers, B-to-B marketers and their customers.

“The power comes from the interrelationship,” Ramos said.  “When decision-makers see messages and content about products and services appearing in more than one media, the research shows they are more able to relate to and remember them.  I don’t see how you can ignore that the three types of media work together beautifully.”

Reach Laura Ramos at (650) 581-3830 or lramos@forrester.com; Gordon Hughes, president & CEO, American Business Media at (212) 661-6360 x 3314 or g.hughes@abmmail.com