While some industrial advertisers use traditional consumer media when they serve their advertising objectives, their choices generally center on whether to use print media (business magazines, trade publications, and industrial directions), direct marketing (direct mail, telemarketing, catalogs, and data sheets), or some combination thereof.
General Business and Trade Publications
General business and trade publications are classified as either horizontal or vertical. Horizontal publications deal with specific functions, tasks, or technologies and cut across industry lines. Vertical publications are directed toward a specific industry and may be read by almost anyone from the person on the assembly line to the company president. The choice of one or the other, or both, is dictated by the desire to penetrate a particular industry, reach common influencers across industries, or optimize the goals of reach and frequency. General business publications (e.g., Fortune, Business Week, and The Wall Street Journal) tend to be read by business professionals across all industries because of their general business editorials. Specialized business publications, such as Advertising Age, Purchasing, and Chemical Week are targeted to individuals across industries who have responsibility for a specific task or function such as advertising or purchasing, or who are interested in a particular technology such as chemicals. Industrial publications, such as Consulting Engineer and Electronic News address the information needs of readers with specialized knowledge in technical areas such as engineers and electricians and also cut across industries. However, other specialized business publications – Iron Age and Steel, for example – are targeted to individuals in a specific industry.
Every state has an industrial directory, and there are also a number of private ones. One of the most popular industrial directories is the New York-based Thomas Register, which generates “$400 million in daily direct response sales or about $102 billion a year for its advertisers.” The Thomas Register consists of nineteen volumes, containing 60,000 pages of 50,000 product headings and listings from 123,000 industrial companies selling everything from copper tubing to orchestra pits. Although there are similar publications, the Register has practically no competition. One of the Register’s biggest users is General Electric, which buys as many as 300 sets a year, diverting some to its overseas divisions. In fact, the Register estimates that as many as 30,000 sets are in use overseas, many of which have been distributed by departments of commerce and state. Thus, many inexperienced American manufacturers have been able to develop some international business. The main advantage of directory advertising is that is a highly credible medium, and for many buyers, their basic purchasing tool. One disadvantage is that unless buyers purchase directories for use, advertising in this medium is not seen.
Consumer media, in spite of wasted circulation, can be very effective because it tends to experience a minimum of competition from other industrial advertisers. Since the message exposure occurs away from the office, it also experiences less competition form the receiver’s other business needs. According to Sarah Lang, an account executive for Wight Collins Rutherford Scott (WCRS), a London-based advertising agency, “TV is the medium for reaching small businessmen, who are a mass audience. It is also the most effective for shifting attitudes, which is the job we have to do.” Where market coverage is limited geographically, consumer media may also provide an excellent way of reaching a market.
Direct Marketing Medias
In addition to trade magazines and general business publication, industrial marketers also utilize various other vehicles, such as direct mail, telephone, catalogs, and data sheets, to reach their markets. In fact, with the increasing sophistication of computer technology, industrial marketers are ‘turning to direct mail’ as never before. For example, Xerox has more than tripled its sales for low-end products through the use of direct mail. Additionally, numerous industrial marketers are also making more use of the telephone as a means of enhancing the efficiency of their overall communications program.
Direct mail is an especially useful tool that is frequently employed in conjunction with, or as an alternative to, business or trade publication advertising. When carefully conceived, because of its potential to gain the reader’s full attention, direct-mail advertising can provide a greater impact than can an advertisement in trade or business publications. Direct mail offers the advertiser numerous advantages over the use of business or trade publications. Advertising messages can be developed and targeted toward a precisely defined market to introduce a new product, promote the corporate image, support the sales force, or communicate with industrial distribution. It is relatively low in cost, highly selective, and flexible with regard to timing, and it offers considerable space for telling the “full story.” There are, however, definite disadvantages in using direct mail. Direct mail can be extremely wasteful if prospects are not clearly identified. It is also often thought of as “junk mail” and tends to be tossed aside without ever being read. It may also never get past the secretary to the intended recipient. To avoid these problems, direct-mail programs should be carefully conceived and directed toward a specific target audience whose names, job titles, or functions are known. It is relatively easy to develop mailing lists that contain the names, title, and functions of the audience to be reached. Mailing lists can be secured from trade publications, industrial directories, mailing list houses such as Dun & Bradstreet’s Marketing Services Division or National Business Lists, lists obtained through trade show leads, and the company’s own marketing information system. When obtaining mailing lists from outside sources, however, care should be taken to make certain that the lists are up to date.
According to recent studies, approximately 20 percent of the industrial firms in the United States, including Xerox, IBM, and NCR, use telemarketing to generate nearly $100 billion in yearly sales. Telemarketing is a marketing communications toll that employs trained specialists who utilize telecommunications and information technologies to conduct marketing and sales activities. These activities may be through incoming calls (calls originating with the customer) or outgoing calls (calls originating with the company). Most organizations utilize both. It is interesting to note, however that outgoing telemarketing offers the largest future growth potential as the cost of face-to-face sales continues to increase. The use of telemarketing, which is increasing at the rate of twenty-five percent a year, is viewed as a means of complementing, rather than replacing, face-to-face selling. According to one study of 249 industrial sales and marketing managers, the major uses of telemarketing are (1) to qualify sales leads, 73.6; (2) support field sales representatives, 73.2; (3) generate sales leads, 73.1; and (4) to handle marginal accounts, 70.0. (The number above indicates the percentage of firms studies that used telemarketing for the reasons given.) When used effectively, however, telemarketing also enhances the effectiveness of publication and direct-mail advertising. When a toll-free number is included in print and direct-mail advertising, prospects can easily respond and get immediate information while the advertised message is still fresh in their minds. Successful telemarketing, however, requires specific goal setting, clearly established target markets, and careful planning. The major reasons attributed to failure in the use of telemarketing are (1) lack of commitment, (2) improper facilities, (3) lack of formal scripts, and (4) poor human resource planning.
Catalogs and Data Sheets
Catalogs and data sheets are an important part of a firm’s promotional effort because of their unique ability to support the selling function. Industrial customers use catalogs to compare product, product applications, and prices of potential suppliers. Rarely, however, are catalogs alone used to make a purchasing decision. They merely provide buyers with a basis of comparison with other companies’ products once a decision has been made to purchase a particular product. When properly prepared and effectively distributed, however catalogs can speed up the purchasing process by providing information, securing recognition for the company, and additional opportunities for business. Catalogs also support the efforts of distributors because it is not always possible for them to carry in inventory all the items a manufacturer supplies. Thus, most manufacturers provide their distributors with loose-leaf catalogs so that non inventories items can be located and ordered quickly from the catalog. Data sheets provide detailed technical information on such things as product dimensions, efficiencies, performance data, and cost savings and, thus, are an important complement to the personal selling effort. Sales people seldom have all the answers that technical buyers require. Further, buying decisions are often made when a salesperson is not present. When data sheets are prepared so that key selling points and technical information are presented in a clear, persuasive, credible manner they can be powerful sales tools. Data sheets should include enough technical and product performance information to assist customers in their decision making and should be left by sales people with the appropriate decision makers.
In designing an effective publicity program, the industrial marketer must be aware of the fact that publicity is most effective when it is used to complement the total industrial promotional program.