Research paper shows IT buyers are eating up B2B podcasts

A podcast soup-to-nuts can be done in a week for a few thousand dollars. I've seen white paper projects take six months and cost more than $30,000.

Hey, I'm trying to make a living at this, but even I was blown away by the accelerating ramp-up in the use of IT-focused podcasts by those making buying decisions in enterprises. Among those IT folks surveyed for a new report, 70% had familiarity with podcasts, and they had a substantial increase in use of podcasts in the last six months.

According the free (registration required) report, "Emerging Media Series: The Influence of Podcasts on B2B Technology Purchase Decisions," based on a June survey of 3,900 business and IT professionals, 27% said that podcasts have influenced their purchase decisions. That tally may yet seem small, but it comes of very fast growth, as 32% said their use of podcasts has "significantly increased" in the last six months.

The survey and research report were financed and conducted by KnowledgeStorm and Universal McCann. Of those responding to the Web-based survey, 46% said they are involved in their company's technology at a strategic level, 54% are in IT implementation or day-to-day management, and 43% are relied upon by 10 or more people within the company for IT research and expertise. So we are talking about the mavens and influencers here within IT departments.

According to the survey and report, 53% of the respondents have downloaded or listened to a podcast at least once, with 41% listening on a least more than one occasion. Some 13% said they were frequently into podcasts. Among the frequent listeners, 57% reported that there were not enough podcast of interest at this time. Come to papa.

But what caught me eager eye within the report was the following:

Nearly 60% of respondents said information on business or technology topics currently delivered as traditional white papers or analyst reports would be more interesting as podcasts. And, not surprisingly, 55% of them would be more likely to consume white papers and analyst reports if they were delivered in this manner.

Moreover:

Business- and technology-related subject matter is a perfect match for podcasting content. This medium has already started to evolve past its pure entertainment value into an indispensable, business-critical evaluation tool for IT decision makers. The key, however, is offering the content these users desire. Knowing 72% of respondents have downloaded or listened to podcasts on technology topics more than once further validates the use of tools, such as white papers and analyst reports, to provide more detailed analysis, assessment and evaluation. Twenty-seven percent of respondents are already using podcast content in their decision-making process. However, this group as a whole all but begs for more of this type of content to be delivered via podcasts, so the opportunity to address a real marketing niche within the B2B space firmly exists.

Lastly:

The real value proposition comes in the ability to target and customize messages through an on-demand delivery channel coupled with the opportunity to build and bond with a regular subscriber base of loyal customers and sales leads.

From their mouths to God's ears. Now, obviously, these companies serve the marketing communities, and KnowledgeStorm is in the IT topics search and white paper distribution business. So they have an interest is seeing more and new marketing avenues emerge. But it looks like they were doing their own research into whether this was real, or a threat to the white paper distribution model, found out it was, and then decided to tell the rest of us as a business opportunity. They are essentially telling marketers at IT vendors to better understand the value of podcasts in relation to white papers.

Of course, I have suspected most of these findings, but it's nice to see some numbers being put up, even if I add a grain of salt into the totals. I do agree, certainly, with the trends and analysis. Heck, I've bet my career on it.

Oh, and by the way, as someone who has written a lot of white papers and analyst reports, I can assure you that not only would these content types be easier to digest as podcasts and associated transcripts, they are much more powerfully created as verbal encounters, too. The right podcast with the right knowledgeable person who is in the trenches of IT is worth its weight in gold; it's from the horse's mouth, it's believable, it's community to community, and it's on a human Web scale. That's not always discernible when reading some white papers and analysts reports.

Then, of course, there's also the cost issue. A podcast soup-to-nuts can be done in a week for a few thousand dollars. I've seen white paper projects take six months and cost more than $30,000.

So what was missing from this report on B2B IT podcasting was the big rub from the production side: That the act of a deep conversation with the right expert people, moderated properly, recorded and distributed freely as MP3s and via RSS, with the sponsorship known up front, is just the best way to get IT information out in the open. Take my word for it, it's much better to produce insights this way, you get to the people that matter, not the professional talking heads and spin meisters.

That people like it on the receiving end seals the value equation of B2B podcasting for good.

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