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Winning the tech buying influence game: Advertising or PR?

January 6, 2008

What channels and outlets are winning the battle at influencing enterprise technology purchasing decisions? Take a look at the release announcing the findings from Hill & Knowlton’s annual survey. You can also download the executive summary PowerPoint here.

Industry analysts ranked as the number one source of information and influence on the IT buyer in the US, UK and China. OK, guess no surprises there. But I found two points in the PPT (not referenced in the release) rather interesting:

1. A sparse 15% of US c-level claim advertising influences their purchasing decisions. Wow, that’s low. Especially when you look at the percentages releated to PR activities that influence the c-level: 47% from Internet sites, 44% from blogs, 34% from events, and finally, 31% from media coverage. More evidence that the c-level would rather be educated (PR) than sold (advertising) when making a decision to purchase a new server or enterprise application.

2. The second curious tid-bit deals with the influence of the particular source of information on the buyer’s “perception or image of the product or service or company that sells the technology product or service.” Again, in the US, the industry analyst report holds the most influence at 69%. However, the #2 most influential source at 54% is a trade magazine article, beating out the major business article which comes in #3 at 47%. Wow (again). More evidence that securing consistent mentions and features among the tech trade set (i.e. TechTarget sites, CMP, ZiffDavis, and IDG pubs) can be even more influential than one mention a year in a Wall Street Journal or BusinessWeek.

These business outlets certainly carry a large number of eyeballs, but are they the right eyeballs? Consider this survey the next time a client “is happy with the number of trade articles but unhappy with the number of business pieces.”

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