In B2B Marketing Media, What Future Role Will Trade Pubs Play?

I just read an interesting blog post by Jeremy Victor of BtoBbloggers that asked that question. I suggest you read the article and it’s subsequent comments, but I’m going to add my comment, and compliments, here.

Long live BtoB Magazine.

MLTers Kelly Pires, Glenn Taylor, Sarah Young review BtoB's Direct Marketing Agency Lists.Although I scan as many trade pubs as I can for my clients’ respective industries, I carefully read BtoB Magazine. So it’s the trade pub I know best, and I’ll use it for reference in the rest of my comment about “where print advertising will fall into the B2B mix.”

In my opinion, the premier trade pub in any specific industry functions as a hub that delivers value beyond the printed pages. BtoB Magazine is, to me, like Automotive News is to a franchise car dealer. The articles tell me what’s going on, and the ads do too, and it’s all in one place. Well, actually that’s no longer true. I often go to BtoB’s website, I subscribe to their e-newsletter, I follow them on Twitter and I’m even LinkedIn with them.

Now that I think about it, one of the best B2B forums I’ve been to all year was one BtoB hosted in Atlanta. They had a panel of CMOs from several leading Atlanta companies including Steele Hays of Sage North America, Leah Roscoe of VeriFone and Stephen Zimba of CBeyond; all three very innovative B2B marketers.

Now, I may be unusual among my peers, but I don’t think so. I follow many B2B marketers on Twitter (both client-side and agency-side), and nearly every time I check the stream, it’s loaded with retweets of BtoB articles and posts. And it’s always something worthwhile.

How will page counts hold up? And are their ad sales adequate? I don’t know. But I sure hope business is good for BtoB. I predict that their content will keep them alive, and that all the new ways to share it (or sell or profit from it in some way at some point) will help them thrive.

As someone who has a role in advising clients on when and where to advertise and promote, the trade pubs for their industries are a critical component of most plans. Sure, budgets were slashed this year, but we’ll all need those pubs as part of the rebound, and budgets will be back. The good news about the share going to electronic is that the trade pubs will get some of that too, because their content is such a magnet.

So for all the other entrepreneurs out there who also love the best trade pub in your industries, let’s hope the future is bright for them as they shed light on the information we need.

What do you think the future of trade pubs will look like?