Know Your Audience


Direct marketing company Harte-Hanks recently published the results of a survey on how corporate buyers make decisions (“Mapping the Technology Buyer’s Journey: Survey Questions & Responses”). The company surveyed 500 buyers and “decision-influencers” mainly from the U.S. but also from Canada. Of interest to corporate writers was a question on how those surveyed became aware of technology products. While “peers/colleagues” took the top spot at 70%, “magazine and trade journals” was second at 57%. This shows how important the trade press in printed form remains in the business world. This finding reinforces our belief in the value of editorial coverage in B2B magazines.

Another interesting question was “How effective are the following marketing ‘tones’ in initially attracting your attention to technology product advertising?”  The most persuasive tones were “factual” (87%), “cost/value-oriented” (83%) and “benefit-oriented” (79%) when it comes to influencing technology buyers and decision makers. Again, this is of interest to the trade press community, since most trade journals are written in the traditional “news reporting” style found on the front pages of newspapers. Newer media that are more likely to be lighter in their approach (Twitter or Facebook) did not strongly influence decision-makers. Also, the survey showed “humorous” and “edgy/cool” tones receiving just 17% and 15% respectively. And survey respondents at the CEO/President level rated “humorous” as effective just 12% of the time.

Know Your Audience Lessons

What lessons do we draw? Know your audience. This includes knowing where they like to go for information on the goods and services they need. It’s also important to know how they like the information presented. Humor and an avant-garde style work well in opinion pieces or in social media. However, they don’t perform as well when large contracts for expensive items are being drawn up. A well-written, factual article in a trade publication is a great avenue to reach technology buyers. And no doubt many others, as well.

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