In 2009, Google commissioned a survey with the company TechTarget to measure the behaviors around IT technology purchases, and how content types served those prospects throughout the buying cycle.  A compelling feature of this study is that Google used actual keywords and phrases that prospects searched for, as well as the content types they selected.

In short, this is no survey – actual behaviors, keywords searched upon and content types selected were OBSERVED. Real-time, and without the fog of interpretation, memory or recall.

While there are differences between IT and industrial technology buying cycles, there were compelling and surprising conclusions drawn from this study, and industrial marketers should consider these findings to maximize the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.

For the research stages of the buying cycle, Google identified three steps leading up to a technology selection:

  • Awareness Phase
  • Consideration Phase
  • Decision Phase

Google also identified 4 content/keyword types to measure their effectiveness as influences throughout the Buying Cycle:

  • Brand
  • Issue/Opportunity
  • Comparison
  • Solution
Content & Media Serve Specific Roles in the Early Research Phases of the Buying Cycle

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What Google learned was that to those technology-minded prospects searching for precise information, varying types of information brought unique value as they progress through the Buying Cycle:

Mapping Keywords & Online Content Types To The Buying Cycle

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But even more telling was the value of branding. Google learned that branding isn’t just a key influencer during the early, research stages of the Buying Cycle – its value actually rose the deeper those prospects progressed toward a decision:

Branding's value actually rose as buyers progressed deeper into the buying cycle.

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 As media options for both you and your prospects expand and evolve, an integrated media approach still makes the most sense to effectively brand, influence and serve prospects as they progress toward a selection of product or technology. And this is particularly true for protracted Buying Cycles such as those that support Capital Equipment and related industrial technologies.

Blending Gardner’s and Google’s takes on the Buying Cycle offer strong suggestions as to what message resonates with industrial prospects, and when.

Google's and Gardner Publications' Buying Cycles, Combined.

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Your media strategies should pay close attention to where prospects are in the Buying Cycle, what they need at each stage, and how best to deliver that support through an equation that doesn’t overlook the unique value sets of the industrial buyer.

  • Prospects are influenced by a wide variety of media; push and pull media channels are used at different and specific points in the buying cycle
  • Given the sporadic nature of research and purchasing in industrial markets, maintain an integrated media strategy that serves prospects throughout the buying cycle
  • Excellent branding is not just a matter of name recognition – it’s communicating your company’s true value proposition in ways that prospects can understand

As exciting as things are right now, it’s most important for us as marketers in the industrial space to apply the tools and media that make the most sense, and offer the best opportunities to communicate effectively within our unique markets. Without these considerations, you may be leaving money on the table and not even know it.

If you want to sum up an effective industrial, integrated marketing strategy in one sentence, try this:

It’s no longer only about ‘who’ you know, it’s ‘when’ you know them.

In June, I met with a group of industrial marketing professionals from the machine tools industry at an event in Chicago sponsored by Gardner Publications. The premise of the presentation I gave was to study how industrial prospects are using various media to support the complex research requirements necessary to support an advanced manufacturing technology purchase. This post is based on an excerpt from that presentation.