Research Validates: Prospects’ Buying Cycles Should Dictate the Marketing Message and Campaign Timing

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Results of a recent study reveal that the reason marketers get confused in trying to determine the best “tactic” to use is because it often “depends.”

The study discovered that white papers, analyst reports and trials/demos are tactics that consistently work well throughout the buying cycle

KnowledgeStorm, Inc. , the Internet’s top-ranked search resource for technology solutions and information, and SiriusDecisions , a leading sales and marketing operational intelligence firm, today announced additional findings from a recent study, “Demand Creation: The Prospect’s View.”

According to the study results, the reason marketers get confused in trying to determine the best tactic to employ in a campaign is because it often depends on what phase the prospects are at in the buying cycle. “The study discovered that white papers, analyst reports and trials/demos are tactics that consistently work well throughout the buying cycle,” says Matt Lohman, director of market research, KnowledgeStorm, “but not all in the same fashion and with the same message.”

“Overall, prospects gave B2B marketers an average rating on their individual campaign performance and effectiveness,” says Tony Jaros, vice president of research, SiriusDecisions. “This relatively low grade comes from targeting incorrect audiences with improper messages and delivery methods relative to their presence, or absence, in the buying cycle.”

When and How Do Prospects Respond?

“According to the study results, prospective clients are looking for value-driven campaigns in the early stages of their buying cycle,” says Lohman. “Educational tactics are critical to early stage buyers.”

The most appealing tactic that ranked highest among participants in the early stages is: white papers (65%), trials/demos (55%), analyst reports (51%) and Webinars (43%).

In the middle of the buying cycle, sources that carry the most weight with prospects are: industry analysts (19%), consultants (15%), search (15%), peers (13%) and trade publications (10%).

“Prospects will use analyst content and consultants in the middle of their buying cycles to help them create the vision for what they decide they need in the earlier stages,” said Jaros. “By partnering with, and leveraging, third-party resources, vendors can directly and indirectly help a prospect form the vision for the solution. Then, prospects utilize search, peers and trade publications to solidify and validate that vision.”

In the late stages of the buying cycle, prospects are looking for confirmation of the solution they have chosen. In this stage, industry analysts (31%) are the most valued sources. Search (18%), peers (13%), trade publications (11%) and consultants (10%) are also very valuable to prospects.

A majority of executives enter the buying cycle late in the process and, therefore, are most often looking to confirm the recommendations they have received from their internal teams. Third-party validation of their team’s choice carries a lot of weight. These executives ranked industry analyst reports as their most preferred campaign tactic. Trials/demos ranked second, followed by white papers, live events, online events and trade shows.

“Executives are looking for materials and tactics specific to their needs,” said Jaros. “Too many marketers make the mistake of trying to market to executives too early in the process, and therefore, the campaigns are less effective. Marketers need to have an understanding of when the prospective executive enters the buying cycle so they can provide the executive with the right materials, at the right time.”

Why Do Prospects Respond?

“Buyers are looking to solve problems, not purchase products. The lower the sales pressure, the more apt a prospect is to respond,” says Jaros. “The study confirms that solution and educational themes are the most effective for marketing campaigns.”

Forty-nine percent of respondents said that solution messages are the driving factor in their response. Educational messages are most effective for 24% of respondents, with trials/demos (20%) and vendor selection messages (7%) being less effective in spurring prospects to take action.

Which Sources Do Prospects Trust the Most?

Twenty-nine percent of respondents said that industry analysts are the most trusted source of content during the buying cycle, followed by peers (22%), trade publications (16%) and search (14%). “This data reinforces the point that third-party sources play a significant role in gaining trust between vendors and prospects,” said Jaros.

The takeaway message is that to truly impact how B2B organizations market and sell, B2B marketers must understand the buying cycle their prospects and customers engage in. With this understanding, more effective targeting of marketing tactics will be a natural outcome.

To learn more about the Demand Creation: The Prospect’s View study findings, please click on the following link: Executive Summary.

About KnowledgeStorm

KnowledgeStorm is the Internet’s top-ranked search resource for technology solutions and information. Leveraging the KnowledgeStorm Network of premier partners and its extensive search expertise, KnowledgeStorm is able to reach technology buyers and deliver the information they need no matter where their search begins. KnowledgeStorm, with its network, search expertise and performance tools and services, is a powerful resource for technology vendors, providing them the most opportunities to reach buyers on the Internet and convert them into Web leads. For more information, call (877) 340-9274 or visit http://www.knowledgestorm.com.

About SiriusDecisions

SiriusDecisions is the world's first provider of Executive Management Services focused exclusively on the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Sales Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. SiriusDecisions’ information and consulting solutions are delivered through the use of its SiriusDatabase, the company’s proprietary assessment tools, an unparalleled peer-to-peer network and its experience as sales and marketing practitioners. SiriusDecisions’ focus is on the customers’ top line, showing companies how to create predictable, accelerating revenues. Additional information can be found on the company’s Web site at http://www.siriusdecisions.com or can be obtained from the company at (450) 965-7391.

KnowledgeStorm and the KnowledgeStorm logo are trademarks of KnowledgeStorm, Inc.

Media Contact:

Amber Reed

KnowledgeStorm, Inc.

678-597-5910

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