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Start the Presses – Print is Still Important to 96 Percent of B2B Professionals

Today, it’s pretty hard to talk about B2B tech businesses without mentioning a range of digital marketing options – from display to content to social media.

Companies are aggressively following these strategies, too. B2B tech businesses are increasing their marketing budgets by an average of 3.7 percent this year. Digital marketing now accounts for about one-third of that overall marketing spend. Advertising, including digital, makes up the biggest chunk of B2B tech spending, at 25.7 percent of the marketing budget. B2B tech PR is hovering at just 4.6 percent.

As digital advertising becomes a priority for many companies, their marketing teams are pulling dollars and cents from other areas. A recent survey from the Association of Business Information and Media Companies found that 32 percent of B2B marketers are planning to cut print ad budgets in the next twelve months, and only 54 percent use print circulation as a benchmark for audience metrics.

But the same study showed that 96 percent of B2B professionals still read print magazines.

So, as businesses hurtle into the digital marketing space, there’s one thing they may be leaving behind – their customers.

The Innovation Race

In the race to out-innovate fellow innovators, B2B tech companies can sometimes go too far, too fast. That’s true for products – as we can see with the lukewarm reception toward Google Glass – and it’s also true for marketing. While we’re big fans of new PR and marketing tactics like content marketing, March knows from experience that a mix of online and offline media, along with proactive outreach is crucial.

The average B2B customer would agree, according to the survey. Findings show that, even as marketers take an axe to print budgets, 75 percent of B2B professionals are reading magazines on a weekly basis.

The majority of these readers (68 percent) aren’t reading mainstream business or consumer magazines, either. They spend the majority of their time perusing trade publications specific to their industries. More than half (61 percent) say that they see print remaining just as important or becoming more important in the coming years.

So, while the tech-savvy marketer may scoff at the notion of print media, the customers with decades of experience in the B2B industry are still going with what works – a mix of traditional and digital content.

The Virtual Disconnect

With so much hype around the exciting things happening in the digital ad space, it’s easy to forget that traditional outlets haven’t lost their power. B2B PR and marketing still follows a well-traveled path in many cases. Well-designed ads and third-party endorsements are often cornerstones on which many brand reputations are built.

Given these recent readership statistics, there’s clearly still a lot of value in the vetted opinions and insights of print publications. At March, our clients see a lot of success from bylines placed in the right magazines or surveys or products getting coverage in target publications.

If B2B tech companies dismiss print as a dying medium for marketing and PR when so many customers still obviously value it, that will leave a host of opportunities open for competitors who invest in the outlets where most customers are still looking.