B2B marketing’s content vs. format question.

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.

4 replies
  1. David Dodd
    David Dodd says:


    Thanks for your comments regarding my blog post. I completely agree with you that it is ultimately the content that is most important, not the format.

    I think the folks at Eccolo Media do a good job with this survey, but I did have a few questions that I did not see addressed in the survey report. One question relates to how content is characterized. For example, suppose that you have two content assets that tell a customer success story. One of these assets is a written case study. The other is a video interview with the customer’s CXO. Both the written case study and the video provide very similar information. The written case study is clearly a “case study.” The video interview is clearly a “video.” But isn’t the video interview also a case study, just in video format?

    One point I made in the blog post is that it is becoming more important to present the same basic content substance in a variety of formats. That enables prospects/customers to select the format they prefer and still get the information they want and need.

    Thanks again.

  2. Margarita Nikolova
    Margarita Nikolova says:

    Format is very important for “packaging attractively” the message (visibility tool), but I find more important the management of the distribution channel, including getting feedback from target groups for adapting the messaging to their actual needs and expectations(social networking tool)

  3. Nick Stamoulis
    Nick Stamoulis says:

    Sharing content in different formats increases your chances of being noticed. Not everybody wants to read a blog post or white paper, but they may be more likely to watch a video or listen to a podcast. As long as you have the resources to do so, it’s important to try and capture these different target audience members.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. BizSugar.com says:

    B2B marketing’s content vs. format question….

    A recent B2B marketing content survey shows a drop in the use of some formats and an increase in others. How should this change your marketing content strategy?…

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