On June 5, 2012 Gartner offered a free Webinar about “Most Influential Marketing Activities, 2012” http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=202&mode=2&PageID=5553&resId=2003119&ref=Webinar-Calendar.
This webinar yield some interesting ideas which serve as implication for every person who has a certain touch with customers in the IT industry.
Gartner conducted a study on 501 organizations based in US, Europe and China in 2011. The respondents are in management positions covering IT, Line of Business and Marketing Managers. The study has been conducted the 12th time in a row and this was pretty interesting to see how the results change year-by-year.
Generally, Gartner found out that over the sales cycle ‘References from provider’s customers’ are the most dominant influencers on a purchasing decision, followed by ‘Contact from the provider’ and ‘Events’. Surprisingly, ‘Social Media’ was ranked on the 12th and last place. This shows that although people are very active at Social Media and like to trade information there it doesn’t work as an influencer for a purchasing decision solely. I am very excited to see how this will change over the next years!
Very interestingly, the different Marketing instruments have a different impact in the three phases of a sales cycle: 1) Determining solution, 2) Identifying providers, 3) Selecting providers.
While ‘Advertising’ is very important in stages 1 and 2 it does hardly matter in phase 3. The same applies for ‘Newsletters’ and ‘Press Publication’. For ‘Sales Presentations’ and ‘Customer References’, it is exactly the other way around. Interestingly, most respondents prefer online advertising over print advertising while online advertising is displacing print advertising for the first year. Influencers’ Blogs are the most frequently visited Social Media channels the respondents tend to visit in order to inform themselves for a purchasing decision.
When I looked at the results some of them very not surprising for me: At the end, it is the old reference information which is the bestseller every year. Satisfied customers who are willing to talk about their success with an IT-Provider…Marketing can be so easy J However, Gartner affirms that most providers underinvest in their reference management which is hard to believe for me when looking at such striking results of the survey (http://www.gartner.com/id=1928314).
Additionally, it shows how systematical the use of marketing instruments should be. Every Marketing instrument has its right to exist and its importance in different stages of the sales cycle.