I just received a question from a government marketing pro I have known for a long time, one I respect tremendously. Here is the question:
"Mark, Is print advertising going to be dead in federal IT over the next 12 to 18 months? I still see print as a big brand building tool for folks like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc.yes it needs to be integrated with online and new media but it will never be replaced. Am I way off base?"
Here is my response:
"Your instincts tell you the same thing mine tell me. Space ads are already on life support and anyone telling a different story is living in a fantasy world. Possible space will die, but hopefully not. Can the big companies afford to the let print venues die? I don't think so, as none seem to have a strategy to live without them and their (the pubs) ability to reach a very broad audience. Last August (in my Government Marketing Best Practices seminar- http://www.federaldirect.net/order2008gmbp.html) I said that trade (niche) publications that did not adopts social networking strategy would die. There is still time - but they have to move FAST!!!"
In the GMBP seminar last summer, I pointed out that trade publications (and trade associations) serve a niche, a community of people who share a market. These commonalities are perfect for creating a social network so the proactive professionals in that community could better interact. Further, I said that these communities were going to occur with or without the publications. I said straight out that trade publications and associations that do not adopt a social network on the back end of their publication or group would cease to exist. Information dissemination and digestion is changing, and it is changing fast.
Since that time we have seen the birth of two social networks in our market: www.FederalContractor.us (aka TFCN, The Federal Contractor Network, which serves the contractor community) and www.GovLoop.com (which serves primarily a Federal employee audience, with some contractors). These are robust forums and each is growing.
I don't think we can afford to see the demise of trade publications, as the quality of the information they provide is critical to the decision making process in the government and contracting communities - in our shared community. Each of the publications that serve this market provides the vital intellectual nourishment required for us to collectively grow.
I am not referring to unfettered, unregulated growth of government spending. I am referring to the growth of a joint community that better serves the needs of the government and us as citizens.
Your thoughts are welcome.