Further insight into b-to-b collateral needs comes from content strategy services company Eccolo Media, which fielded an online survey last August of 155 technology buyers, all of whom said they'd made or influenced a b-to-b technology decision in the last six months, asking specifically about how they consume marketing collateral.
Among the insights into the marketing collateral mix:
? White papers remain the most effective piece of marketing collateral, with 86% of respondents finding them moderately to highly influential in the purchasing decision.
? Product brochures and data sheets were the most frequently consumed collateral type, yet they were also most frequently ranked as the least influential.
? Somewhat surprisingly, the majority of respondents viewed digital content on the desktop rather than printing out the content.
? The majority of respondents (54%) used collateral for the first time in the presales cycle, before they'd spoken with a sales rep or had had any contact with the company.
Given these findings, a focus on optimizing content for online consumption appears paramount. Making content easy to read online not only meets technology buyers" preferences, it makes that content more likely to be distributed to others, said Lorie Loe, president of Eccolo Media.
“Making sure that all of your collateral is available digitally, and even preferring that over developing print collateral, is something you can do very well that will have an immediate impact,” Loe said. “It's far easier to share that way. We're finding that digital electronic collateral is highly viral, and you want to be able to take advantage of that. Make it easy to view, easy to download, easy to share.”
In the end, Loe said, it's all about having a collateral strategy. “When companies are thoughtful about content creation, they realize a number of benefits. First of all, they get to save some money and really leverage and amortize resources over a wider variety of collateral tools. We're also finding development cycles go down. When it's approached in a more mindful way, with a collateral plan over a certain time period, we find there's a lot less cycles to get that stuff going and revving ideas.”
Ultimately, it comes down to what IDC's Gerard calls an “often overlooked part of marketer's jobs”—sales enablement. According to Gerard: “Marketers need to improve their ability to get the right material to the right salesperson—and to the right customer—at the right time.” M