By Steve Reside

When enterprise technology buyers make purchasing decisions, it’s clear that content is king. A recent study published by KnowledgeStorm produced the following findings related to how marketing practices align with enterprise technology buyers’ expectations and preferences:

• 49% percent of respondents consider the information they find online to be of greater value compared to content they receive through other means such as events, mailings and publications

• 61% percent of enterprise technology buyers look for different kinds of information at various points in the buying cycle, while only 38% of marketers surveyed create content that address these different needs

For tech marketers looking to make an enterprise sale, these findings show a clear path. To increase leads and nurture prospects through the purchasing cycle, the following steps are necessary:

• Create timely product and services content that is targeted to the different stages of the enterprise technology purchasing cycle — from initial research, to product validation, to product purchase

• Use Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click advertising to ensure tech buyers find your content offering easily

• Take full advantage of the new Web 2.0 media opportunities at your disposal (blogs, podcasts, wikis) to enhance your less dynamic content offerings such as white papers and product collateral

When creating meaningful content for a tech prospect, use language that speaks to solving a particular business problem. If you have optimized your site for search and developed Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns that complement the prospect’s business need, you have a better chance to capture your prospect’s attention. Once captured, offer on-line content such as compelling flash demos, meaningful podcasts, and descriptive solution overviews that address the prospect’s business issue.

Now that your specific offering is of interest, take the next step. The typical enterprise tech prospect looks for outside validation of all claims. Product reviews in the trade press and relevant blogs and podcasts are key sources of corroboration. If these are missing, create a PR outreach program to establish yourself in your space. People have an innate curiosity about what others are saying about a solution and look to trusted sources for their opinions.

Once a prospect has outside validation of your offering, detailed information about your product or service will be requested before a purchase is made. If your Web site doesn’t provide this information, your prospect will quickly find a site that does and your opportunity is lost. If you can provide the information required quickly, then you’ve done your job, and your Sales people and Sales Engineers will have a well-qualified lead ready for close.

In 2004, when I was channel marketing manger of an OLAP software company called Databeacon, our marketing team worked hand-in-hand with the Sales team to identify and put language around the business needs our software could address. Once the needs were characterized, we optimized our Web site content around those needs and developed Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns to ensure Databeacon could be easily found among the myriad of OLAP solutions. With the Sales team, we developed online collaterals and made them easy to find and compelling to use. We created a robust PR campaign that lead to dozens of case studies and reviews in relevant trade magazines and online portals. Finally, we produced a variety of product material — all easy to find and download, so our enterprise prospects could get the detailed product information they needed in formats that made sense to them (demos, product spec sheets, white papers, success stories, etc.).

In the end we were able to develop a thriving channel of over 120 reseller partners around the globe, and made enough inroads in the OLAP market place that we were eventually purchased by business intelligence software giant Cognos Inc.

By creating compelling, easy to find online content that is targeted to the different stages of the enterprise technology purchase cycle, you’ll stand a very good chance of capturing an enterprise tech prospect’s attention and moving them from interested researcher to serious evaluator to satisfied purchaser.

(Steve Reside is Vice President and Creative Director of market2world communications inc., Canada's Web 2.0 tech product launch and public relations agency.)