Just a few days after the Technology Marketing Alliance(on whose board I sit) hosted HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan for an evening of Inbound Marketing evangelism (When Marketing Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth: An Evening with HubSpot’s Brian Halligan), the TMA had another thought-provoking event: A panel of CIOs discussing what kind of information they consider in making purchase decisions.
The event, What Tech Buyers Want from Marketing, was notable for the candor of the panelists, which included senior executives with the Carlyle Group and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Janelia Farm) as well as a serial tech entrepreneur.
While Halligan emphasized the importance of publishing content to “get found” online, it may be no surprise that the CIO panelists’ leading source of information, by far, was the experiences and opinions of peers. This channel of dialogue is so critical that in some cases they have established informal private industry peer groups (on their own–no sponsors, no media, no tweeting).
Farther down their spectrum of trusted, useful information were blogs and social media channels. The perception is that, while there may be useful needles in these digital haystacks, most of the information has to be taken with a giant grain of salt due to the (mostly) biased sources.
So how does this feedback square with the Halligan/HubSpot/Inbound Marketing approach, which says you should focus the vast majority of your resources on publishing content that gets you found online. What if your site gets found but it isn’t considered a trusted source by the seekers? Is it worth the significant investment on content development and publishing?
The beauty of this dichotomy is that both approaches hinge on the most important part of the marketing mix: having an outstanding product or service (that’s right, “product” is one of 4 P’s of marketing). Understanding the market and delivering an outstanding customer experience will then:
Cause peers to generate positive word of mouth; and
Generate great reviews by the target audience and/or trusted advisors (independent research firms, technical reviewers, trade media), which you can publish in your site and via your social media channels to help you get found in a positive light.
So, while Inbound Marketing and peer information appear on the surface to be wildly different aspects of the purchase cycle, they have something critical in common: an outstanding positive customer experience.
Bob London is President of London, Ink, a marketing and communications consulting firm based in the Washington, DC area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His business humor writing, Bobservations a>, can be seen at www.bob-servati ons.com and is now a monthly column in SmartCEO DC magazine (www.smartceo.com)