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IDG survey asked technologists and business buyers about their preferences for content as they move through the sales cycle.

The respondents were not very demanding as they said they would be satisfied if 56% of the marketing information was what they needed to become informed and create a shortlist of vendors from which to buy products and services.”

IDG goes on to describe the sale cycle and content requirements for each phase:

  • General education – articles, advertisements
  • Business case – case studies, articles
  • Evaluation – case studies, tutorials, and demonstrations
  • Shortlist creation/Final decision – case studies, tutorials, and demos

 

I suggest that white papers also belong in the mix, probably somewhere between general education and building a business case.

What was also interesting was that in the early stages, buyers preferred documents by more than 50%. This preference transitions to webcasts in the evaluation and shortlist creation, followed by documents again in the final decision phase.

What is still most important and has never changed is that buyers prefer peer-based content and independent reviews and not inaccurate or vendor-slanted information.

“Technology buyers are telling us that the days of randomly producing marketing materials without regard to what they want are coming to an end,” said Bob Johnson, Vice President, Engagement Optimization at IDG Communications. “As our research shows, vendors that get the right mix of content at the right time for influencers and decision makers will significantly increase their chances of making a sale.”

Bottom line here, make sure you have a content strategy that addresses each phase in the sales cycle with quality information buyers will find relevant and educational, in a format they prefer.