Don’t you love this time of year?
No, I’m not talking about the holidays — although those are nice, too.
I’m referring to the blizzard of marketing research that gets published in the last few months each year. Those studies that tell us where marketers’ brains and budgets are trending in the year to come.
Technology marketers said that when it comes to content marketing, their top spending priority in 2012 will be…
That’s right. More than webinars and virtual events (61%), videos (59%), research (55%) and articles (54%), tech marketers’ top content focus next year will be good old-fashioned collateral (71%). Bear in mind, these are marketers inside companies operating at the vanguard of the global economy, producing the highest of high-tech systems, devices, software and the like.
Surprised that their top content priority is collateral? I sure was.
Collateral at the Cutting Edge?
Collateral is not exactly what most of us see when we visualize sophisticated marketers planning compelling content to sell cutting-edge products. Collateral tends to be company focused vs. thought leading and customer centric. It’s “let me tell you about me” content, which runs counter to what many argue is a cardinal rule of content marketing: Nobody really wants to hear about you and your products or services.
Beyond that, the very word collateral screams print. Dead trees. Static features/benefits information vs. dynamic, engaging storytelling. One needn’t strain to imagine Ebenezer Scrooge hectoring Bob Cratchit about the importance of using every last piece of the old collateral before daring to think about ordering new Scrooge and Marley sell sheets or case studies.
So how to account for the fact that the world’s most sophisticated marketers, working in support of the world’s most advanced products, rate collateral as their most important content marketing investment?
Maybe you’ve got some insights on this. If so, please share them with a comment. Meanwhile, I can think of two explanations:
1. Product-centric content still plays a huge role in the marketing and selling of technology.
Technology is a considered purchase. Relatively speaking, the sales cycle is long. And somewhere near cycle’s end, tech marketers need to provide detailed information that will allow a prospect to examine features, benefits and competitive advantages provided by the product they’re considering.
Articles, white papers, blog posts and other asset types can attract prospects into the funnel and help nurture them along. But at some point, somebody (sales) or some thing (collateral?) needs to show and tell exactly they are buying.
2. Collateral as it’s being defined, developed and used by tech marketers in 2012 is not your father’s collateral.
And certainly not Scrooge’s. I don’t know how IDG defined “collateral” in its survey, but it’s possible that what’s behind marketers’ focus on collateral is a new way of thinking about what collateral is, what it does, and why it matters.
As a content strategist who often works with clients on sales-support initiatives, I tend to think both of the above are true. When it comes to a considered purchase (and a lot of B-to-B products and services are considered purchases), product- and service-specific information still has a key role to play in facilitating the sale.
But beyond that, it stands to reason that, with evolving technology creating more possibilities for content management and delivery, progressive marketers are getting more inventive with each budget cycle about how to turn what were once largely print-based, static collateral systems into engaging, relevant information, interactions and experiences.
If your organization falls somewhere in the middle — recognizing collateral’s important role, but unsure how to take it to a next level — 2012 could be the year your collateral system starts evolving in a smart new direction.
Still with me? See Part 2 of this post for seven planning considerations that hold the promise of making your organization’s collateral more effective, more efficient, or both. Consider picking one or more as the basis for making a New Year’s Collateral Resolution.
“In 2012, I resolve to start making our organization’s collateral