Monday, April 23, 2007

B2B Tech Marketing: The content your buyers want most

KnowledgeStorm andMarketing Sherpaa recently release the first research piece in their Connecting Through Content Series.

Available to those who sign up with KnowledgeStorm (sign up is free), Issue One: How Technology Marketers Meet Buyers' Appetite for Content (March 2007) is a must-read for B2B technology marketers trying to figure out how to get through to their buying audience.

Based on a survey of 4,000 tech marketers and buyers, the report frames its conversation in terms of what technology buyers "crave": content.

For starters, as someone who for years has argued (sometimes fruitlessly) that techies like to read and learn stuff, not just see an ad with a pretty picture and 3 words, I love and laud the premise that marketing to techies means providing rich, meaningful content.

Among the findings: nearly half of the respondents "considered the information they found online to be of greater value to the content they received through other means such as events, mailings and publications," which certainly speaks to marketers' need to put increasing focus on what's online.

Another finding: content should be tied to the buying cycle, from "research to purchase." This is very important to keep in mind. I know that I give lip service to this concept all the time, but spend more time on the theory than the practice. Of the customers I'm working with at present, only one is consciously and officially addresses the buying cycle. Not surprising, it's the only really large company I'm working with.

But whatever the constraints that small companies face - and half of the companies I work with don't have a marketing department at all, so they face many - size shouldn't be an excuse for not mapping content to where the buyer is in their buying cycle.

White papers topped the list of what's on the technology buyers reading list.

Interestingly, webcasts were high on the technology marketers list of things to do, with two-thirds of them using them as part of their marketing mix, but less than one-third of technology buyers looked regularly to webcasts. (Ooops. Wish I'd seen this before I planned a webinar for one of my clients.)

Anyway, the report is a treasure trove of very current data (the survey was conducted in February 2007), and B2B technology marketers are well advised to give it a look - and then give their content marketing programs a long hard look of their own.



Just to make sure I get all my begats straight, this originated from iMedia (which, in one of those viral "thangs", was e-mailed to my friend Sean who e-mailed it to me).


Mukund Mohan said...

thanks for sharing. Very useful.

John Whiteside said...

This sounds like great stuff, but I really have to share my gripe with Knowledge Storm - their privacy policy is sufficiently terrible that I won't register with them. It states that they will pass your contact information, including email, on to others, and that those other organizations will contact you however they choose (including email).

In my view, that's a totally unacceptable policy. I wouldn't mind being informed of offers from other companies through KnowledgeStorm, but there's no white paper I want badly enough to allow someone to release my email address to a gang of vendors.

Matt Lohman said...

Hi Maureen,

Thank you for your coverage of our research study. We spend a lot of time with marketers discussing good content strategies. The topics covered in this study were generated by collecting input from technology marketers. Please look for part 2 of the series coming out in May. It will cover distribution, search and content registration. We have again collected data from marketers and from the B2B technology buying community.

Best regards,

Matt Lohman

Matt Lohman said...

In regards to John’s comment above…


Thank you for taking the time to read our privacy policy. While you are correct that we share your contact information, I did want to clarify that we only share your information with those companies whose content you access. KnowledgeStorm is a repository of business technology solution and research information from a wide variety of companies.

A key value proposition to our users is that you can come and register with us one time to access white papers and other research that, otherwise, you would be registering for individually at each company's website. If you are researching a technology purchase or identifying a short list of vendors, KnowledgeStorm intends to speed that process along for you.

Again, I give you credit for taking the time to understand what our privacy policy is. We try to make it very clear on our registration page.


Matt Lohman

Mary Schmidt said...

The info sounds like it could be very useful. However, I've also got a problem with KnowledgeStorm. And, even after I jumped the hoops in the registration form (Down to number of employees and industry sector) - I couldn't unlock the document (the block for my email would come up, but not the password.)

What's ironic is that true B2B marketing and web mavens, such as Marketing Sherpa would use KS as an example of what not to do in email and web marketing. Oh well...

(P.S. John, that's why we have alternate "junk" mail emails - for all those companies still stuck in the old ways of lead gen and "free" subscription forms.)

(P.P.S. Matt, recommend you revisit your marketing method for this study. I'm assuming you'd like people to buy other services and reports from you.)

Mark Cahill said...


I'm not sold. My own results show that we don't do a lot of traffic on whitepapers when we take the time. Not that they aren't incredibly useful, but I don't know that they really get read.

I've found short video segments tend to get viewed more. Although for some topics, the traditional whitepaper is the way to go.

I suspect it all resolves down to a question of relevance. Not only must your topic be relevant, but the delivery means must be as well. After all, I don't want a flash animation to tell me how to unclog a toilet. Words will do...but trying to explain something like how to "double haul" for a fly fisherman simply cannot be achieved in words, it must be shown.

Maureen Rogers said...

Mark - Good point on making sure the medium suits the message. But the whole thing has got me thinking about just what a white paper is, since us marketers have shape-shifted the definition to suit our own purposes. I feel another post coming on.

Michael A. Stelzner said...

Thanks for covering this important study.

I am a white paper nut.

It seems this study conforms to all the other studies that show white papers still are super powerful.

If you readers want to see the history of studies on this topic, I maintain them on my blog.