One of the great things about the direct marketing industry is people’s willingness to share ideas and resources. Much of what we marketers need to know to be successful has already been written down in the myriad books, trade magazines and Web sites out there.
Combined with a bit of hands-on experience, this rich library of information can help us save money, lift response and better serve our customers.
Here is a compendium of key resources for business-to-business direct marketers. I recommend that you stockpile these publications and review them regularly. If you don’t, you will be reinventing a lot of wheels. If that’s the case, I just hope it’s someone else’s money that’s going to waste, not yours.
Books. If you have these five titles on your bookshelf, you will be 80 percent of the way there:
• “Business to Business Direct Marketing” by Robert W. Bly, second edition. One of the great copywriters in our industry, Bly explains why every type of business communication should be a direct response communication, then shows you how to pull this off. He covers creative approaches and offer development, then takes you through all the key media types in detail.
• “Business to Business Internet Marketing” by Barry Silverstein, third edition. After a superb chapter on the basics of BTB direct marketing, Silverstein covers every conceivable aspect of how to harness the Internet for business marketing purposes. No surprise, he has updated this book twice to keep it current, and he provides a special “members only” Web site so readers can view the latest.
• “Business to Business Marketing: Creating a Community of Customers” by Victor L. Hunter. One of the thought leaders of our time, Hunter puts our daily activities of acquiring and retaining customers into a new perspective. Citing the changes in the way customers buy, he explains how business marketers need to change their strategies and focus on their customers’ needs.
• “S.U.R.E.-Fire Direct Response Marketing” by Russell Kern. The latest contributor to the BTB direct marketing library, Kern covers the gamut of planning and research and campaign development and execution in all media. Full disclosure: Kern asked me to write a blurb for his book, and I did say some pretty nice things about it.
• “Managing Sales Leads” by Donath, Dixon, Crocker and Obermayer. Everything you need to know about lead planning, generation and qualification. This book is officially out of print, but the Direct Marketing Association bookstore still has some in stock.
Conferences. Direct Marketing to Business, the semiannual conference and trade show, is the place to keep up with the latest in the business. With two full days of sessions and a pre-conference day of workshops, this show also provides attendees with a gigantic softcover book (some call it a doorstop) of slides and notes from each session. Organizers also sell session audiotapes on site.
The DMA also publishes a newsletter after the DMB conference called In Case You Missed It, which contains articles culled from session content. Subscribe by contacting Jennifer Rice at the DMA. The Web site is www.dmbshow.com.
• DM News is expanding its BTB coverage next year to include a monthly special section. It features breaking news, case studies, how-to article and columns.
• BtoB: The Magazine for Marketing and E-Commerce Strategists (www.btobonline.com) is published biweekly by Crain Communications. It also has a good e-mail newsletter called Hands On, with case studies and an “ask the expert” column.
Web-based publications. The Web is awash in material for business marketers. Just try a Google search on “BtoB marketing,” and you’ll be sorry. It comes up with 24,300 listings. So I’ll save you the trouble. Here are some of the best:
• www.b2bmarketingbiz.com, an excellent weekly newsletter with the most detailed case studies I’ve ever seen. The editor, Anne Holland, elicits amazing quantities of real numbers from her subjects.
• www.wordbiz.com. Debbie Weil’s newsletter, WordBiz Brief, educates you on how to strategize and write outstanding business e-mail communications, whether solo mail or newsletters.
• www.B2btalk.org. A forum for business marketers, with regular live chats and plenty of good articles, operated by a marketing agency outside Philadelphia.
• www.marketing.org. When you are ready to integrate your direct marketing with the rest of your marketing communications mix, the Business Marketing Association might be a big help. This is the association’s Web site.
Do you have other BTB resources to recommend? Please e-mail me with your suggestions.