We B2B marketers love surveys. What better source for confirming what marketers and buyers are thinking and doing?
G. David Dodd of B2B Marketing Directions recently alerted me to the 2011 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report put out by Eccolo Media in his post “Marketing Collateral Remains Critical (But Buyers’ Preferences are Changing).”
As a survey of actual technology buyers, this promised to be more valuable than most. The results confirm what we all know, that informational content and product information are valuable elements in the decision-making process. The survey reports that “product brochures/data sheets are the most widely consumed type of marketing collateral, followed (in order) by white papers, video/multimedia files, case studies, and podcasts/audio files.”
Dodd points out, “At least 61% of survey respondents said that all five types of collateral were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ influential.” The change he notes, however, is that, although white papers remain the #1 form of content being offered today, its position dropped by 14% compared to the 2010 survey, with case studies falling by 17%.
The fall, he concludes, has been caused by the introduction of other sources of information, such as company Web pages, social media sites, blog posts, eBooks, and presentations. These are taking some of the share that used to be held by more traditional formats for content.
His point is that it’s important for B2B marketers to expand the formats of the content and collateral they offer to these other formats as those are becoming popular with prospective buyers. I don’t disagree with the fact that a variety of content formats is important so that prospects have the opportunity to get the content in a format with which they are most comfortable.
However, it’s possible that the popularity of these new formats is based solely on the fact that these are the new formats being offered, and if a prospect wants information on a specific topic, then they will get the information in the format in which it’s available. (Not necessarily what they prefer.)
If I am a B2B buyer, desperate to solve the problem of accurately tracking labor hours by project, I’m going to respond to an offer for “How Today’s Developers Effortlessly Track Labor Hours,” whether it’s in the format of a video, a white paper, an eBook or a case study.
It’s not the format that’s most important — it’s the title and the content. The results of this survey don’t reveal that buyers want new formats, only that providers are pushing more content out via new formats. Smart marketers offer their content in different formats, when possible, to satisfy all individual preferences.