I’ve written quite a lot about the swing from mass market to niche in consumer publications. But there’s another huge swing underway that might not be on your radar … and probably should be. We’re talking about the shift in B2B brands away from digital and toward print.
“In these turbulent times, magazines and newspapers are fighting hard to maintain circulation and share of attention in an increasingly fragmented media landscape,” explains Sam Upton in Two Sides. “But while the consumer titles chase after the increasingly elusive advertising and sales revenue, there’s one area of print media that’s thriving: business to business (B2B).”
For evidence, just look to the success of the Financial Times, which has a B2B focus and is one of only two UK newspapers to increase circulation over last year. Likewise, The Economist is now the UK’s best-selling business weekly, Upton notes.
“Clearly, businesses are seeing the value in print and investing both their attention and their budgets into the medium.”
Why the shift? What is that makes print so powerful in the B2B marketplace? For starters, the article explains, brands can leverage laser precision targeting, the lean-back experience that fosters engagement, and the tangible “take away” nature a printed ad. And print offers a direct line to the C-suite in many cases. But at the crux of it all is trust.
“For a successful business, trust is one of the most important values it can possess,” Upton continues. “Trust in its products, trust in its service, trust in its people – it’s a commodity that’s difficult to build but easy to lose.”
According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, the rise of fake news and false information online has eroded confidence in digital platforms, while trust in journalism and traditional media like magazines has rebounded.
This shift leads to a natural response – more brands are turning to trusted print media to build personal connections with their customers.
“The magazine created for Swedish mining and construction specialists Epiroc is a fantastic case in point,” Upton explains. “Simply titled Mining & Construction, the biannual publication tackles complex issues within the industry, giving the high value business reader a combination of industry trends, company news and key benefits for its customers.”
According to Epiroc’s Global Communications & Brand Manager Anna Dahlman Herrgård, print is the right medium to make this connection.
“The magazine focuses on the bigger picture and how we would like to help our customers and partners to make good things even better,” Dahlman Herrgård explains. “The M&C concept helps us to build trust. It allows us to share our expertise and show real examples of how our customers can rely on us as a partner.”
This kind of reliability and credibility matters for brands, and makes print an effective medium in the B2B market.
“With stability in the business world unlikely to improve in the next few years, many companies are searching for ways to build confidence in their brand and products, demonstrating authority and expertise in their respective fields, and creating a long-lasting relationship with customers,” Upton concludes. “And print has proved time and time again that it’s the perfect business partner.”