Steve Jursa (EVP in the San Jose office) recently attended a presentation called “The Mind of the Engineer” by Aspen Core, the company that owns EE Times. They surveyed over 4,000 engineers around the world to better understand their day-to-day jobs, how they gather information and what their guilty pleasure on Netflix is (just kidding on the last one).
Here’s the chart that answers the question, “Over the past 12 months, which sources have you used to find information on products and technology?” Engineers could check multiple sources.
Vendor websites dominate the ranking with a whopping 53 percent. In contrast, industry media sites have a ranking of 31 percent. While the study focuses on engineers, I think the data would play out this way for all B2B decision makers.
Does this mean communication consultancies should change their business models, hire a bunch of WordPress programmers and lead with website development?
Of course not.
The question zeroes in on how engineers go about surfacing information for new products and technologies. It’s logical that they would turn to the vendor behind the new product or technology. Probing engineers for sources to advance their overall knowledge and how they stay on top of the latest trends would generate different answers.
It’s also worth pointing out that these numbers don’t tell us the amount of influence that these information sources wield on the buying decision. Will an article by a journalist in a trade publication do more to persuade the engineer about a certain product or technology than a vendor’s website shouting with superlatives? It seems a safe bet to say yes.
Of course, many B2B companies including some in the semiconductor sector have evolved their websites into thought leadership platforms and education resources. This creates a quandary. The vendors taking a progressive approach with their websites tend to be the same vendors winning on the earned media front. They value the third-party validation both for brand-building and nudging prospects into the customer category.
Yet, as vendor sites take on the characteristics of third-party media, they inevitably siphon traffic from the trade publications, which in turn hurts their already precarious financial position. You could make an argument that the vendor sites and the trade publications are chasing the same attention, a zero sum game, but with one huge difference. The vendor sites don’t depend on monetizing that attention to keep the lights turned on and a never-ending supply of Red Bull.
Again, the vendors don’t want to see their trade publications playing Bob Dylan tunes on street corners for tips. How this shakes out long term is TBD, but one sign that the “times they are a-changin’” (couldn’t resist) is vendors essentially subsidizing trade publications as master sponsors.
Circling back to the study, one final comment —
Corporate blogs end up at the bottom of the pile at 15 percent. One might look at this number, conclude that corporate blogs don’t work and eliminate them. That’s not how I see it.
I believe this number is low because most B2B companies do a dreadful job with their corporate blogs. Too promotional. Too much “me, me, me … and here’s a little bit more about me.”
That’s why engineers don’t rate corporate blogs as a useful resource.
In contrast, we’ve got plenty of data from our own experiences that show leveraging a blog as a thought leadership platform advances the vendor in the mind of the potential buyer.
Sounds like an opportunity for a semiconductor company.
Note: There are still a few seats available to hear Dylan McGrath, editor-in-chief at EE Times talk about the publication’s redesign and editorial direction. If you’re interested in attending, you can find information to RSVP at the Eventbrite page.