The white paper is the #1 most influential piece of collateral that technology purchasers consult when making or influencing a buying decision for their company, according to a recent survey by Eccolo Media, which also found that online video is fast becoming more widely used when evaluating purchases.
The Eccolo Media 2009 B2B Technology Collateral Survey of American businesses was conducted among more than 500 technology-purchasing decision makers. It confirmed that sales materials of any kind – white papers, case studies/sale sheets, podcasts, videos, product brochures and data sheets – are most frequently consumed at the beginning of the sales cycle – before a company ever invites vendors to participate in an RFP.
Collateral subsequently is used less frequently as sales relationships evolve, the survey found.
Additional survey findings:
77% of respondents say they’d read at least one white paper in the last six months, with 84% of them rating white papers as moderately to extremely influential when making technology-purchasing decisions.
Nearly half (49%) of respondents say they had watched a vendor’s video while considering a technology purchase, up from 20% in 2008.
Collateral is more viral than ever: 89% of respondents say they share white papers with others, while 85% share case studies, 81% share brochures or data sheets; 80% share podcasts; and 79% share video.
People prefer to consume collateral from their desktop: Only 1 in 4 surveyed even print out an online document.
Data sheets and brochures are considered least influential written collateral but were also the most consumed type, indicating they are still valuable “table stakes” in helping solidify a brand’s product messages with potential buyers.
Podcasts are, when compared with other types of collateral, among the least influential; Case studies – preferably thoses that are written – are gaining in influence.
Good Writing Matters
The survey also found that the quality of report writing gets noticed. Some 86% of respondents felt that high-quality writing was at least moderately influential and 51% ranked good writing as either very or extremely influential. By contrast, poor quality writing was the most frequent reason respondents gave for decreasing the influence of a white paper.
“We’re definitely seeing some important trends here for technology marketers,” said Lorie Loe, president and chief content strategist at Eccolo Media, Inc. “Decision makers and those who influence them want information that is straightforward, well-crafted and can inform their earliest research into vendors and products.”
Loe added that the research points to the fact that consumers want to consume content from their desktops and share it frequently. About the survey: This is the second year Eccolo Media, Inc. has surveyed US technology executives seeking input on their preferred collateral types, how they used content, if they share it, and just how influential it was on their final technology purchase. The survey compiled results from 155 respondents, of whom two-thirds identified themselves as technology-purchase decision makers and one-third identified themselves as purchase influencers.