ABM/Forrester Survey Validates the Triple Crown of Marketing: Trade Shows, 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 web sites 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 Web sites 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 chances of reaching the decision-makers and reinforcing their decision-making processes increase 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 go to find objective news about their specific business sector. Although only 9% saw the actual trade shows as a font of objective news, 22% considered still trade shows to be the best source of information on new products. And 44% used events to confirm that they were making the correct purchasing decisions.

Convincing Budget Argument

Ramos told TSE that since the value of money spent of live event and distinctive B-to-B publishers has now been established, she thought the marketing crowd would probably be more apt to not budget their funds on the more 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 proposed.

Among the findings in The Digital Transformation report:

  • The specific media used most by business decisions 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%; spent at least five days at such events, 58%.
  • Marketers who see multi-platform campaigns as essential to reaching their target audience, 93%; decision makers that show increased product recognition when it is presented 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 altogether, 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.

Ramos said: “The power comes from the interrelationship. 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 togetherbeautifully.”

Reach Laura Ramos at (650) 581-3830 or lramos@forrester.com