I recently came across a DemandGen Report from last year that focused on content preferences of the B2B buyer. The survey respondents — business executives across a variety of industry segments, including tech/enterprise, telecom, financial services, media/Internet and manufacturing – confirmed what I already suspected: The white paper is often the most useful marketing content vehicle for a B2B organization.
Take a look at these findings:
- 88% of respondents said their number one preferred content format when researching a business topic or potential business solution is the white paper.
- 70% said the type of content they were most likely to share with colleagues was a white paper. (Coming in second at 56% was the case study.)
- 47% of respondents reported that they preferred to consume their content in a text or narrative format.
The 88% and 70% stats are pretty damn telling, don’t you agree? 47% isn’t peanuts either. I’m thinking they even count as a mandate.
When buyer “wants” butt heads with marketing “wants”
The key “aha!” here is that this particular survey looked at what buyers WANT where most content marketing surveys I come across report instead which tactics marketing teams are actually executing.
I’ll be the first to admit that white papers are not at the top of the list when I think about sexy content marketing tactics. Give most marketing folks the money to make a video or webcast, and they can barely keep themselves from jumping up and down as they contemplate the possibility of creating the next viral marketing sensation. Tell them to go out and develop a white paper, and you can practically cut a knife through the cloud of disappointment that invades the room.
When you get a chance, take a look at a blog post I posted a couple of years ago in which I wrote, “If you’re in a position to make decisions about the content your business is putting out there for those who are going to bring you business, figure out in advance the needs and wants of that specific audience.” This still holds true today and should be included in the daily morning mantra of any marketing decision maker.
Remember, only one need counts in marketing – the need of the person who is thinking about buying your product or service. In the B2B world, your best bet likely is a white paper.
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