With the rise in technology and marketing automation implementation, the B2B industry is changing. ABM's Annual Conference (April 28 - May 1) in Florida is themed "The Future of B-to-B Media: Cross-Platform Growth Strategies." The conference will kick off with a roundtable called, "The B-to-B Company: A Fully Integrated Enterprise," where Tony Uphoff, the newly named CEO of Business.com, will moderate the panel. This roundtable brings together industry leaders from media and information company operators and marketing experts to investors and bankers. They'll discuss and debate the emerging role and value proposition of B2B media when it comes to connecting buyers and sellers. In a recent interview, ABM asked Uphoff to offer a preview of the discussion, including how the rise of marketing automation will affect B2B media, whether the traditional model organized around an editorial enterprise is starting to change and how B2B leaders are addressing company culture. The Shift in the Buyer-Seller Connection The purchasing process for B2B buyers has changed. Traditional B2B media is no longer as effective. When ABM asked Uphoff about how the connection between buyers and sellers is changing, he noted that "Reach, Frequency and Awareness, are gone, replaced today by Engagement, Loyalty and Advocacy." Buyers are able to discover and engage with information that is specific to their needs and "signal their intentions based on their digital body language -- whether their intention is the acquisition of more knowledge, social engagement or the actual purchase of products and services." However, buyers aren't the only ones making a change. According to Uphoff, "Sellers have made a corresponding shift, from targeting based on demographics to targeting based on intention. Traditional media from B2B publishers that historically connected buyers and sellers has been surrounded by digital, social and community-based media of all sorts. We're also seeing marketers focus on "direct to the customer" digital media initiatives via their own websites and content marketing initiatives." Note -- I believe 'direct to the customer' should be in apostrophes, not quotes because it's within a quote From Editorial Enterprises to Engaging Content Creators We've all heard it, read it and seen it. We cover it regularly on this blog. Content marketing is a must. ABM touched on this in their interview with Tony Uphoff. ABM noted that traditionally B2B media companies have been organized as editorial enterprises, but that this is changing. Uphoff agrees, "The rise of content marketing and brands as publishers has changed B2B media forever." In order for businesses to be relevant and engaging, they need to have content. Uphoff also believes "that in the performance marketing era, marketers simply aren't willing to subsidize the cost of editorial operations with basic advertising anymore." Content, according to Uphoff, is what helps a buyer go through the purchase process, including editorials and social research, peer input, advertising and marketing. B2B companies of the future will "learn how to present 'content' in all its forms, in a highly contextual way that engages their audiences as they go through their purchase processes." A Move towards Marketing Automation More data and incoming information are causing a change in the marketing landscape. Call it marketing automation if you will, but Uphoff prefers the term performance marketing. He indicates that automation suggests a singular event. However, marketing is ongoing and technology now enables marketers the ability to adjust messaging and strategy on the fly based on performance. Uphoff believes, "We are seeing performance marketing and media converge. As this trend accelerates, we will see B2B media brands offering marketers a series of integrated and ongoing marketing services, 'Marketing as a Service' if you will, that range from display advertising, through to lead generation and content marketing." He also predicts that marketers will begin to see more services that integrate with social media and mobile applications as well as content marketing. As the buyer landscape and behaviors shift, sellers are acting accordingly. The buyer purchasing process is changing and sellers are taking the steps necessary to meet expectations. This includes content creation and marketing that are more informational and less advertorial. Because marketing is an ongoing and ever-changing area of a business, it's becoming more crucial for businesses to make decisions based on data and performance. Technologies that supply this will become more important for successful B2B companies. Find the full interview on abmassociation.com and stay tuned for a post following the conference.