Forbes study makes a case for online content marketing

As a fellow, niche B2B company, Wax feels your pain. I’m pretty sure it would be easier to sell shoes and DVDs online in contrast to hawking a long-term commitment to an expensive service (there are no shopping carts for custom magazines or marketing plans).

But that’s no reason for B2B companies to abandon or slight online marketing budgets or efforts. As revealed by a recent Forbes Insight study, the perceived value of search, social networking and online content (video and text) is rising among C-level executives, and it will continue to increase in importance as “Generation Netscape” starts its takeover of the corner office.

The study, performed in conjunction with Google, looked at information gathering habits among C-suite executives and highlighted behavioral differences between the under 50 and 50+ crowds, as well as IT vs. non-IT executives.

The study found that for information gathering purposes, “the value of the Internet outstrips even personal recommendations from colleagues and networks.” Seriously.

Additional findings:

  • 63% of respondents found search very valuable for locating business information
  • 31% placed a high value on links from websites, blogs, or other online content
  • 43% valued guidance from an online community, such as Facebook or LinkedIn
  • 56% of executives under 40 read or generate microfeeds (such as Twitter) daily compared with 34% in the 40 to 49 age group and 3 percent for those older than 50
  • 33% of executives under 50 watch a work-related video online every day; 23% visit YouTube daily
  • 50 percent of C-level decision makers search for business-related topics themselves, rather than farming out online research to underlings

Joe Pulizzi at Junta 42 responded to the data with a call for creating consistent content marketing for the web. I echo his sentiment. Why would a B2B company not want to develop an online content repertoire and following? If your B2B audience is dominated by the over 50 crowd, you’d be remiss to ignore the needs of the web-savvy generation that will shortly take its place. A recent HubSpot post argues that B2B marketers are still holding on to the idea of outbound marketing, instead of embracing inbound marketing methods made possible by search and social media.

Investing in content—video, blog posts, webinars, white papers, press releases, website copy, even Tweets and Facebook updates—and a strategy to share that content will set your organization up for a meaningful online dialogue with executives who are actively looking for your services and expertise.

– Caroline Hatchett

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