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Andrew Gaffney

The Demand Generation Disconnect

Andrew Gaffney B2B - 07/11/2012-16:47 PM

 

Only 20 percent of sales and marketing executives are confident that their current demand generation campaigns are effective, according to recently released research from Corporate Visions, Inc., a leading sales and marketing messaging company.
 
Based on a poll of more than 440 b-to-b sales and marketing professionals around the globe, the survey results aren’t really surprising and highlight both a challenge and opportunity for publishers and their clients.

While there is a lot of great data, which is detailed in Corporate Visions' Q2 2012 Sales and Marketing Messaging Report, I suggest publishing executives focus on three key takeaways:

• The Content Gap: When asked to name the biggest barrier to successful demand generation campaigns, 37 percent of respondents said their content isn't engaging enough. This represents a prime opportunity for publishers to help their clients upgrade their content campaigns with offers that are relevant to their prospects.

• Off-Base Offers: 60 percent of respondents said their organizations’ demand generation campaigns focus too heavily on their own products, features and services, rather than focusing on their customers' pain points.

With many of our clients in the high tech sector, we refer to this as “speeds and feeds” disease. The natural inclination for sales and marketing is to talk about how much better their solution is, but prospects are more interested in talking about their own business challenges and how to solve them.

According to the results of our recent 2012 Content Preferences Survey, 75 percent of the respondents want companies to curb the sales messaging in their content. Another 60 percent said they’re placing a greater emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source when they assess the value of a piece of content.

Because publishers are dialed in to the issues that are top of mind within their communities and have experts on the topics, this represents another perfect opportunity to step in and bridge the gap from publishing one-way narratives to establishing a real dialogue with prospects.

• The Disconnect Between Sales And Marketing: 65 percent of respondents said their sales teams use less than half of the demand generation content their marketing department produces.

Over the years, I’ve worked on a lot of business publications where our sales reps were only talking to marketing executives. When publishers get closer to the sales team at their clients they can identify the pain points and gaps where the sales team feels like they need new and improved messaging.

With many of our current clients, we’ve been able to create e-books that are wildly popular with sales teams, in addition to being used as bait for lead generation campaigns. This should be the goal for publishers: Become a partner in driving the messaging that will help drive revenue.

I’d recommend checking out the full survey from Corporate Visions, as well as some of the content work the company is doing. There are ideas publishers will want to adopt and bring to their customers.

 

Andrew Gaffney is the President of G3 Communications, Inc., a firm specializing in digital media and custom contnent. G3 Communications publishes DemandGen Report, Retail TouchPoints and Channel Marketer Report. In addition to its digital publications, G3’s Content4Demand marketing services division creates custom content optimized for lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns for more than 100 different clients ranging from Fortune 100 firms to venture-backed startups.

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Bill Mickey

Hanley and Wood Reunite Via CSP Information Group Acquisition

Bill Mickey M and A and Finance - 07/09/2012-15:55 PM

 

Do the names Hanley and Wood mean anything to you? They should. Mike Hanley and Michael Wood are the founders of one of the biggest b-to-b media companies in the U.S. And the two were reunited recently in a deal through Mr. Wood's investment firm, Redwood Investments.

The firm bought CSP Information Group last week, a b-to-b media company that targets the convenience store and restaurant markets. The portfolio includes four magazines and associated newsletters, websites and events. The deal was brokered by Berkery Noyes, which represented Redwood.

Wood's son, Mike Wood, Jr., who is president of Redwood, will become CEO of CSP, which he says has tripled its revenue in the last six years.

According to Wood Jr., CSP will become a platform for further acquisitions in the convenience store and restaurant media space. "We expect to invest in and grow CSP's existing businesses particularly in the digital, mobile and information realms, and to become an active acquirer of c-store, restaurant and foodservice industry media, trade shows and businesses," he says in a statement.

Michael Wood will become chairman of the new company and Mike Hanley, an investor in the company, will also join the board.

Pair this deal with the recent acquisition of Northstar Travel Media by the Wicks Group and you get the sense that b-to-b media companies that effectively spread their revenue across print, digital and live events still have appeal. Marketing services may be where the action is, and banks definitely still have some troubled assets on their hands which has pinched financing and can wreak havoc with structuring a deal, but these types of transactions are still getting done.

 

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Josh Gordon

To Sell More Print Ads, Pitch Digital First

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/28/2012-15:23 PM

 

Many media reps who sell both print and on-line media lead their client conversations talking about print. Since it can take as much time to sell a $7,000 print ad as a $1,000 banner ad, this can look like the fastest way to meet quota...or is it?

I have found the opposite is true. Starting with print can lead to lower print sales. Sound crazy? Here are three reasons why:

1.
Advertisers would rather talk about digital options than talk about print. Digital media is new and more interesting for them. Honestly, what is there to say that is new and exciting about print advertising that can compare?

2. When calling on smaller and mid-sized accounts there is a very real opportunity to be a hero by helping them understand the chaos that is digital media today. Many of the organizations you call on don't have on-staff expertise who keep up with the changing digital marketplace. If you keep up, you can be of real service to them.

3. Finally, digital media is more strategic than print because of the metrics that show up after a campaign. When you can look at the results together, a great detailed conversation can result.

If focus your client time first on where their interests are, you will simply have a better conversation and make a better connection which will be more rewarding for both of you.

I find that by talking about digital options first I become far more valuable to my clients, find out more about their needs, and uncover far more opportunities.

When more client understanding, trust, and opportunities are developed far more productive ways to work print into the media budget present themselves.  

The best way to sell more print advertising is to have client conversations directed by what is most interesting and useful for your customers, not commissions. Most often, this means starting your conversation about digital.

 

This post originally appears on Josh Gordon's Ad Sales blog. 

 

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Bill Mickey

Zinio Responds To Sale Reports

Bill Mickey Consumer - 06/26/2012-21:00 PM

 

Speculation on a potential sale of digital magazine and newsstand provider Zinio has been swirling for some time now, and Fortune reported Monday that the company had indeed put itself on the block:

"The San Francisco-based company has hired investment bank Montgomery & Co. to manage the process, with one source saying that the company is seeking between $50 million and $100 million. No idea yet if there is buy-side interest at that price."

Since that report, we put in a request for comment and Zinio has released a statement, telling Folio:, "Committed to growing the company, we have retained Montgomery & Co to facilitate capital raising strategies and discussions. While the company has been engaged in similar discussions in the past, Zinio has never had a stronger vision, strategy and roadmap to engage the right set of potential partners."

The timing of Zinio's capital raising efforts comes on the heels of the sale of Texterity, a digital magazine services provider, to Godengo, a company that has roots in regional magazine web development and now builds content management systems.

It's not necessarily a coincidence, but it is a very crowded market out there for digital magazine services and newsstand providers.

In Texterity's case, the company ran out of money before it could take the necessary next steps to fund growth plans.

Further speculation over a potential buyer could zero in on a technology company or, say, a company like RR Donnelley, a printer that's been rapidly expanding into digital content services. The company, with $10 billion in 2011 revenues, has made a series of acquisitions over the last year. Importantly, the company bought LibreDigital last year, which provides digital magazine content production, analytics and distribution services.

It's also bought Journalism Online, maker of the Press+ paid content platform; scooped up EDGAR Online for $70.5 million; and invested $2.5 million in catalog shopping app CoffeeTable, which lets readers make purchases directly from within the application.

With 'traditional' publishers quickly making inroads into nontraditional content sales and development, their suppliers have only had to follow suit and acquisitions are the quickest way to play catch-up.

 

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Josh Gordon

Are You Swapping Analogue Dollars for Digital Dimes?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/26/2012-15:53 PM

This post originally appeared on Josh Gordon's Ad Sales Blog. 

If you follow the traditional publishing business model in an ever more digital world, it is inevitable. The traditional magazine business model is based on creating content to attract eyeballs, and then to sell exposure (advertising) to them. This basic plan has kept magazine publishers profitable for over a hundred years. But this model faces harsh challenges in today's digital media world. The problem is a far more efficient way to deliver eyeballs online, called "search." Every marketer knows that they can get far more eyeballs and clicks per dollar for their website by buying “search” instead of digital media from traditional publishers. Why every publisher does not know this is a mystery to me.

To understand the problem let's look at a rough example with the math:

Say you publish a magazine that charges $6,000 for a page of print advertising and gets $1,000 for a banner on it's website. What if running either a print or newsletter ad gains exposure to many eyeballs and results in 75 click-thoughs to an advertiser’s website? Depending on the expense of appropriate keywords, a click-through generated by Google, or another search engine, could cost as little as 20 cents or as much as $5. So, Google would charge between $15 to $375 for the same number of clicks you are asking advertisers to pay $1,000 or $5,000 for. Argue all you want about the quality of your clicks. With this big of a price difference, it is going to be hard to make it stick.

If you don’t think the online advertisers in your niche are impressed by this math, think again. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) [chart below], almost half of all online ad dollars (46.5%) now go to search. A recent analysis of where Google gets its ad dollars shows penetration into niches traditionally held by publishers.

But there is a better way to compete. The core strength of digital media is not in its ability to deliver exposure to eyeballs, but in its ability to deliver interactive experiences. Why sell one-way communication (eyeballs) for what is a fundamentally interactive medium? With this in mind, a new model for publishers is emerging:

Use content to build data on potential customers. Use that data to build sponsorable interactive customer experiences.

In this context, a piece of data is either the location of an individual (address, phone number, name, company name, e-mail address, zip code, etc.) or information about the individual that explains his or her behavior (buying intentions, current products owned, income, demographics, sex, ethnicity, political orientation, type of car owned, etc.).

What can you do with this kind of data? Let’s look at that rough magazine example where they are charging $5,000 for print ads and $1,000 for web banners. With the right data, what else could they sell?

Targeted sponsored webinars.

Cost of sponsorship: $7,500 to $15,000

Live sponsored events.

Cost of live event sponsorships: $5,000 to $15,000

Market research to sell.

Cost of market research: $2,000 to $15,000

Market consulting opportunities.

$7,000 and up

Highly focused direct marketing based on opt in lists (e-blasts).

$2,000 to $4,000


These are not digital dimes.

 

 

IAB online ad revenue for 2011 shows the continued growth of search.

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Bill Mickey

A Peek at The Economist's Digital Strategy

Bill Mickey Consumer - 06/21/2012-14:58 PM

 

The Economist Group this week released its annual financials, ending March 31, and the numbers looked good, with revenue and profits up (4 percent and 6 percent), as well as circulation.

But while the overall circ of The Economist is at 1.6 million, says the company, only 123,000 subscribe digitally. But according to Oscar Grut, managing director, Economist Digital, that could change dramatically in the next year.

In a recent blog post, lifted from his comments in the annual report, Grut notes that reader studies have revealed that long-form content continues to be valued, especially in digital form:

"We are fortunate because tablets, e-readers and smartphones allow our readers to enjoy the ritual, lean-back, immersive experience of reading The Economist that they love in print. Many of our readers tell us that this experience is, in fact, even better than print, because as well as being lean-back, digital editions are delivered immediately and reliably (much more so than via the postal service)."

Grut adds that a majority of American subscribers noted in another survey conducted last year that print was the preferred format, but 60 percent of those respondents said by 2013 they'd likely change that preference to digital.

Grut's full post, where he digs into The Economist's broader digital strategy, is available here.

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Warren Bimblick

A Quick Critique of Huffington.

Warren Bimblick Consumer - 06/19/2012-14:09 PM

 

Did you see the new Apple Newsstand magazine called Huffington.? Arianna (I don’t know her but that is how she signed the introductory editor’s letter so I guess we are on a first name basis) tells us that “Huffington’s content will emphasize the rich—and richly rewarding—interactions that come from uninterrupted time spent in the company of creative minds.” Oh, dear. That grand statement comes after a 2-page ad for Prius V that, because as in true print magazine format, Huffington. must be read vertically (no turning of your iPad, please), we can’t read the copy that goes across the gutter. Follow me? That's because there is no gutter on an app that can’t be turned.

Anyway, it is really pretty. There are great photos and some snappy graphics to highlight data and charts. But then it has these annoying little headlines that say, “Enter,” which, because I assume that it is beckoning me to do so I push and push and push and all that happens is I get the table of contents (again and again and again). And then there are the similar “Voices,” where I keep thinking I’ll find audio (love my New Yorker app issues that have poets reading their works). Nope, no voices here. There is some clever use of reader comments and a good article or two including the cover piece called, “Obama’s perilous relationship with young voters.”  

I guess the ad snafu aside, I am not appalled to be spending yet another 20 bucks for an annual subscription to something. But what is this something? Who is it for? I can’t find that demo that should be so evident in a magazine.

And why in a world where legacy publishers are trying to find life after print would a successful digital-first entity imitate print in the most sophisticated digital medium, the tablet? What am I missing? Are they going to sell a ton of print-like ads (note to sales team: 86 the spreads from the rate card)? Have they modeled that one percent of their supposed 80 million unique users per month will spend $20 per year? That would be a $16 million revenue stream. Hmmm. Or is this just one of those, “I did it because I could?”

 

 

Warren Bimblick is senior vice president, strategy and business development, at Penton Media. Follow him on Twitter @wbimblick.
 

 

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Mark Newman

How “Google Journalism” is Killing Our Credibility

Mark Newman Editorial - 06/12/2012-09:56 AM

Granted, there’s not many things more certain than death and taxes but I found one more: any time I started off a declaration with the phrases “Back in my day…” or “When I was YOUR age…” with one of my classes of Introduction to Writing & Reporting at the University of South Alabama, I could pretty much guarantee a room full of collective eye rolling. “Is that when you drove your Model T to school?” one of the class clowns would invariably smirk.

In this particular instance I was explaining to the room of Gen Y-ers that in my first job as a newspaper reporter I went to what is known as a public library and did research…in BOOKS! Well, they were largely unimpressed, and why shouldn’t they be? For the uninitiated it’s much easier to simply Google a topic or go to Wikipedia to get the information you need to write a fairly comprehensive story. The problem is that by no stretch of the imagination can that be considered “reporting” or “journalism." At best, it’s simply laziness. At worst, it’s plagiarism.

Google Journalism actually reared its ugly head when I was a judge for the Eddy Awards in 2010. One of my categories was association publications and I was perusing the pages of a travel association’s magazine when I came across an article on European cruises. The alleged writer of the article was clearly guilty of not picking up the phone to find out more information and it was obvious by what I was reading; the story read like promotional copy gleaned from minute upon minute of research on the cruise line’s website. Worse yet, it was terrible: it wasn’t until five or six paragraphs into the piece that it stated exactly where the ships sailed to and from, pretty basic information, if you ask me. Not only was this lazy writer just Googling his research, he had never heard of our friend, “the inverted pyramid.”

At the risk of being called a hypocrite, I must confess to my own dalliances of Googling info and putting it into a story. It occurred when I worked at a dysfunctional publishing company where the left hand (editorial) seldom if ever knew what the right hand (sales) was doing. One of the sales assistants walked into the editorial suite and asked if one of us could write up 1,200 words on skiing in West Virginia. I stupidly volunteered—I had neither skied nor been to West Virginia—because I thought I would have the luxury of time to make some calls and do some research. “When do you need it?” I asked. “Ummm, around lunch,” was the reply. This editorial was to go around ads in a special advertising section in a national magazine so time was of the essence in order to meet the magazine’s stringent deadline.

I called and emailed West Virginia’s bureau of tourism. Nada. So in order to meet my deadline I had to resort to the very practice I loathed: Google journalism. Not a proud moment but I think I was able to put the info into my own voice enough so that it would not be a direct rip off of www.skiwestva.com or whatever site I came across. In this case, it was more of a challenge as a writer to take unfamiliar material and reinterpret it in your own voice…or at least that’s how I justified it to myself at the time.

The best stories occur when you’re able to get out there and meet and mingle with people and get the lowdown on what it is you’re covering. As I told my students, you need to become an expert on what it is you’re writing about so that the reader won’t have any questions about the story they just read.

Google has its place, but mainly to find sources and background information. It is a crutch that threatens to retroactively cripple our industry, especially the next generation of budding journalists. Cue eye roll.

Mark A. Newman is a Senior Editor with Hanley Wood's Remodeling magazine. He has spent close to two decades in the publishing world and has been everything from Editorial Director to Editorial Assistant and literally everything in between.

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Stefanie Botelho

Post-Photoshop Crisis, Hearst Receives Shrink Wrap Demand

Stefanie Botelho Consumer - 06/07/2012-14:30 PM


Hearst can’t catch a break. Shortly after the dust settled (more or less) around the Seventeen/Photoshop controversy, a new crusade against another female-centric title (Cosmopolitan) began. According to a press statement released this week, Victoria Hearst (granddaughter of Hearst Corp. founder William Randolph Hearst) partnered with Projectinspired.com founder Nicole Weider in an “Anti-Cosmo Mission.”

The Mission requests Cosmo not change its content, but “take responsibility for it,” according to Weider. The magazine already caught flack earlier this year after featuring two “underage” starlets (Selena Gomez, 19 and Dakota Fanning, now 18) on its February and March covers, alongside its typically racy headlines.

Now, Hearst joins Weider in her efforts to ensure Cosmo is only sold to adults 18 and above.

“About 11 years ago, I contacted Frank Bennack and the Board of the Hearst Corporation and told them that what they are publishing in Cosmopolitan magazine was pornographic. I had the support of two female psychologists and counselors who attest that this content hurts young girls. Like Nicole, I also asked that the magazine be sold only to adults 18 and older,” says Hearst in the statement. “I never received a reply from anyone at the Hearst Corporation, but I had peace because I delivered the message. When I heard about Nicole’s campaign, I knew I needed to join in her mission to put Cosmopolitan in a bag and make sure that its pornographic content cannot be sold to minors!”

A Change.org campaign (which garnered over 33,000 signatures so far) is going so far as to demand the magazine be sold in a non-transparent wrapper. Weider summarizes the goal of the campaign, “That no one under the age of 18 sees the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine on newsstands or at their grocery stores, and that no one under 18 can legally buy Cosmopolitan magazine.”

This is a tall order to ask of any magazine, as cover art is the only bait publishers have on the newsstand. And what about those over 18 who would like to preview the content of the magazine before they purchase it? If by some wild turn this campaign does go through (and I believe it won’t), it will certainly raise concerns about the rest of the industry.

If Cosmo is considered pornographic, what about the scantily clad bunnies on Playboy? The “hot sex” tips covering Men's Health? The breast-feeding antics of TIME? Surely, if one controversial magazine is bagged, the rest will shortly have to follow suit—and for an industry already struggling with single copy sales, that would be one costly bag.

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Andrew Gaffney

New Insights Into How Content Is Accessed, Consumed and Shared

Andrew Gaffney Lead-Generation Insights - 06/05/2012-13:19 PM

Publishers have always known the foundational role content plays in engaging an audience. However, with content now playing a starring role for all digital strategies, as well as demand generation campaigns, clients and agencies are beginning to ask a lot more questions about content.

Marketing executives are looking to build their own content libraries and are turning to their publishing partners for guidance and support creating the right content, and distributing it successfully to support both their branding and revenue initiatives.

To better understand how emerging technologies and media options influence audience behavior, our DemandGen Report publication recently conducted a survey of more than 100 executives and found some interesting trends.

Here is a look at some of the study highlights:

1) Access Points: The majority of our DemandGen Report readers are business executives in sales and marketing roles, so our sample skews more towards b-to-b. Traditionally, business publishers have focused on reaching their audience in their place of work, but one of the realities of the mobile explosion is that “work” is no longer confined to a desk or the four walls of an office.

When asked what device they use to access business-related content, 84 percent indicated they use a laptop most frequently, 70 percent said they use a mobile phone, and 49 percent use a tablet. Conversely, only 36 percent cited a desktop computer as their regular device for consuming content.

In looking at how their content consumption habits have changed over the past year, 32 percent indicated they prefer mobile-optimized content for access on a tablet or mobile device.

2) Setting Preferences: Given DemandGen Report’s focus on engagement trends, our survey focused primarily on content used for lead generation, lead nurturing and sales enablement.

When we asked executives which content formats they had used to research a business topic or solution, the white paper was the dominant response (88 percent), followed by webinars (73 percent), case studies (67 percent) and blog posts (63 percent).

While those content formats have been established as “tried and true” for publishers and brands alike, the survey also show rapid adoption of newer formats that wouldn’t have made the list two years ago. For example, 51 percent of respondents cited E-books as a top resource, 44 percent referenced videos, 38 percent selected infographics and 28 percent named interactive presentations.

3) Content As Currency: The other major trend underscored by the survey was the growing influence content now has on how customers perceive the publishers and brands that supply it.

When asked how their content consumption habits have changed over the last year, 57 percent of respondents said they place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source creating content.

There is also more openness to receiving content directly from brands, as 25 percent said they are willing to consider vendor-created content as trustworthy, and 35 percent saying they start their search for content addressing business topics directly on vendor websites.

The growing influence of peers also came through loud and clear in the study. When asked which content they give more credence to in the research process, 52 percent cited peer reviews/user generated feedback, followed by 33 percent who selected content authored by a third-party publication or analyst.

4) Share And Share Alike: Despite their busy schedules, business executives take time to share content they find valuable. While email is a primary sharing mechanism (88 percent), the survey found that more than half (53 percent) of executives share content using LinkedIn and 39 percent share via Twitter.

In addition, 25 percent indicated they are getting more content through social networks or recommendations, and 23 percent said they now start their search for content on social media.

In addition to these four key trends, the survey looked at other shifts in behaviors, such as willingness to share contact and business information in exchange for access to content, as well as asking how long an executive is willing to commit to reviewing different content formats.

Andrew Gaffney is the President of G3 Communications, Inc., a Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. firm specializing in digital media and custom contnent. G3 Communications publishes DemandGen Report, Retail TouchPoints and Channel Marketer Report. In addition to its digital publications, G3’s Content4Demand marketing services division creates custom content optimized for lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns for more than 100 different clients ranging from Fortune 100 firms to venture-backed startups.

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John Parsons

Quark Ups the Mobile Publishing Ante

John Parsons Design and Production - 05/31/2012-14:07 PM

 

Remember Quark? Not so long ago, when InDesign was just a rumor, it would have been unthinkable for a publisher to design and create a print magazine without QuarkXPress. Those who clung to PageMaker were scorned as being hopelessly behind the times. Even some at Adobe were privately worried that Quark’s hegemony could not be challenged.

Fast forward to the print/web/mobile/tablet/whatever era. InDesign rules in many publishers’ minds and budgets. Quark—both the company and its products—are disregarded, even disdained. “That’s just the way it is; some things will never change,” as the song goes.

Nothing is permanent, least of all in publishing technology. On Tuesday, Quark announced the acquisition of Mobile IQ, the UK-based developer responsible for PressRun. The latter is an app-creation environment very similar to Adobe DPS, WoodWing and Mag+, giving page designers the ability to add rich media and publish to the App Store or Google Play. (In fact, PressRun uses InDesign as one of its starting points. XML-based Content Management Systems are another. The most awkward moment of my interview with a Quark spokesperson followed a question on whether QuarkXPress and its App Studio feature would be part of the PressRun workflow. Quark has not announced any such plans, but did not rule it out.)

Where the story gets interesting involves the company’s attitude towards dedicated apps versus browser-based (but still app-like) publications. Mobile IQ has plenty of experience building custom apps—notably the BBC News app for iPhone. Both its custom and PressRun-based apps use a robust HTML5 presentation layer, and officials from both companies expressed the view that tablet publications will break out of the constraints of proprietary reader apps in the fairly near future.

Others share this view, of course. Many publishers would like to break free from Apple’s constraints, and still more are not convinced that the print page metaphor is the best model for an engaging mobile/tablet app. With that in mind, Quark is about to beta test a mobile publication—based in HTML5—that is purportedly more flexible than the page-like apps we’ve come to expect.

For now, consumer magazines may still want to stick with the more design-intensive world of InDesign page layout—in which Quark is now, perhaps ironically, a player. For b-to-b, however—an area where Quark has increased its focus—the situation is not as clear-cut. Mobile IQ has a strong play with STM and other structured publications, where managed content is a strong component. Business publishers may want to broaden their search for tablet publishing platforms that integrate well with a CMS. Neither Quark nor Adobe have an absolute lock in that respect.

Who knows? Publishing technology seems to follow another song lyric, “big wheels keep on turnin’.”

 

 Former Seybold editor John Parsons is an independent publishing analyst, based in Seattle.
 

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Elliot M. Kass

Make Your Content Marketing Relevant

Elliot M. Kass B2B - 05/31/2012-12:25 PM

 

It’s sad but true, Virginia—less than half of IT decision makers consider the marketing content they receive from the vendor community to be of any use. How do we know this? We polled them of course! Surveys never lie, but there’s reason to believe that this one was particularly accurate. For one thing, the sample was quite sizeable—over 860 corporate IT buyers. For another, its conclusion is supported by droves of anecdotal evidence: Literally dozens of formal interviews, casual conversations and email exchanges that we’ve conducted with corporate IT managers during the past year echo this view. (A survey and whitepaper, “Tech Marketing Best Practices: The Complex Purchasing Process” can be downloaded here. )

So how do we get on the right side of this equation and ensure that the content we deliver to this audience is both useful and well received?

If you chat with an IT executive, and ask what sort of content he or she finds useful when researching a new project or purchase, that executive will generally mention three things:

1. The information has to be credible. In other words, it has to be derived from information sources that are recognizable, verifiable and respected.
2. The information has to be relevant. More on this in a moment.
3. The information has to be accessible. In other words, if your prospective buyers can’t find it quickly and easily, it doesn’t matter how relevant and credible it is; it’s just not going to do them any good.

Of these three concerns, the second is the most pivotal. After all, if an IT decision maker isn’t interested in the topic you’re discussing, then he is not going to care whether he can locate the information or trust its source. So the more closely your marketing content is aligned with the immediate needs, concerns and perspectives of the prospects, the more relevant they will find it.

In our experience at UBM TechWeb, the chief reason so many IT buyers are turned off by vendor content is because the material is presented from the vendor’s point of view—not the IT buyer’s. This is a very easy sort of error for a marketing department to fall into. Companies, like people, get caught up in their own dealings and end up seeing the world through their own prism. It may be a perfectly valid viewpoint, but it tends to reflect your boss’s priorities—not the buyer’s.

Instead, tech marketers, or any other brand marketer for that matter, need to develop content that deliberately and explicitly addresses the buyer’s viewpoint. Here are some key things to consider:

• Are you speaking to the right audience?
Different segments of buyers in a market vertical look at the same issue differently. For instance, in the IT market, it’s often much easier for small to medium businesses (SMBs) to outsource certain services, since they have smaller IT departments and fewer legacy systems in place. Enterprises, on the other hand, often have much higher thresholds for governance, regulatory and security requirements that have to be met. Your content should reflect the concerns of the group you want to target.

• Are you answering your buyer’s most important question?

Nine times out of ten it’s this: Why is the product or service being promoted important to the prospect? In other words, what business benefits will the buyer receive from the offering? Do a good job of answering this and the content’s relevancy goes way up.

• Are the prospects' most important concerns being addressed?

What’s the current business environment like for the target buyers? What are their biggest challenges? What opportunities are they trying to seize? Addressing these questions puts the message in a context that really matters to the prospects.

• Are you providing data and analysis your audience can’t easily get someplace else?
This is a great way to provide unique value that will engage prospects. Conducting a survey is one way to get this kind of information. It gives a report credibility and the opportunity to collect data that’s specific to a target market.

If you want your content to be useful, it has to pass the buyer-perspective litmus test. Once it does, then you’ve taken an all-important step towards attracting and engaging with your target audience.

 

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