|What’s a Smart Decision Guide™?
Smart Decision Guides™ from Starfleet Research, our IT market research arm, have emerged over the past few years to become the authoritative resource for B2B decision makers purchasing next-generation technology solutions in various niche markets, including retail, hospitality and healthcare. A Smart Decision Guide™ is an unbiased buyers’ guide in the form of a highly informative and visually compelling eBook. Approximatly 40 pages in length, it offers a treasure trove of practical guidance and actionable insights for making an informed buying decision based on the buyer's specific needs — and, also, for maximizing the value of the investment. Combining expert commentary with best practices market research, a Smart Decision Guide™ is a must-read for any prospective buyer. It also serves as an unparalleled brand-building and lead generation vehicle for company underwriters, who often come to view it as their most valuable content asset. Smart Decision Guides™ are written in collaboration with subject matter experts and, in some cases, in partnership with industry trade magazines and associations. The landing pages are search engine optimized and made accessible via inbound marketing tactics, including paid search and social media, to ensure that they can be readily found by decision makers at all stages of the consideration-and-buying cycle.
|Why associate our brand with a Smart Decision Guide™?
You want to get your brand in front of the right decision makers at the right point in time and grow your business in the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective way possible, don’t you? Our turnkey approach to B2B content marketing and lead generation allows companies in specific niche markets to do exactly that. By associating your brand with a Smart Decision Guide™, you’ll find those proverbial needles in the haystack – i.e., decision makers who are in the market right now to buy your product or service (and who, further, agree to be contacted by your sales reps). Beyond an immediate flow of new revenue opportunities, you’ll get perpetual licensing rights to a valuable content asset (with your brand only featured on the cover and in the appendix) that will continue to drive website traffic, brand awareness and qualified leads long after the initial program period (which includes a guaranteed number of leads based on your target prospect criteria) has come to a close.
|Is it better to underwrite a Smart Decision Guide™ or produce an eBook in-house?
It’s not an either/or proposition. In this era of inbound marketing, the more high-quality content assets a company can produce or license the better. Every company should commit to rolling out their own eBooks, whitepapers, videos, infographics, webinars, etc., on an ongoing basis. But also keep in mind that third-party content assets steeped in fact-based research almost always perform better than do-it-yourself, company-branded resources, which most people naturally view as nothing more than self-serving marketing collateral. When in the market for a new technology solution, B2B decision makers search for unbiased guidance from trusted resources. That’s why a Smart Decision Guide™ will invariably generate more qualified leads, and also higher-quality leads, than anything a company can produce on its own. In fact, our clients report conversion rates to be 2- to 3-times higher than the industry average. Our “get found” infrastructure ensures that the content asset with which you’ve attached your brand is downloaded by your target audience, filling your sales pipeline with new client opportunities. Solution providers also license our benchmark reports on a variety of technology-enabled business initiatives.
|Why partner with Starfleet Media?
The proof is in the pudding when people come back for a second helping. Company underwriters often secure a sponsorship spot on the following year’s edition of a Smart Decision Guide™ in which they previously participated more than 6 months in advance. It’s no surprise that our turnkey content marketing program performs so well. After all, our world-class team brings decades of leadership experience in B2B marketing services, particularly content marketing and lead generation. At Aberdeen Group (part of Harte-Hanks, a $200M marketing services company), for example, we helped pioneer the shared sponsorship content model, enabling hundreds of technology solution providers demonstrate thought leadership, raise brand visibility and generate qualified leads. Continuing to build on our industry knowledge, and also by partnering with a top-tier CPA (Google AdWords) bidding agency, we're able to achieve economies of scale on a cost-per-lead (CPL) basis. As a result, we're able to not only deliver optimal results but also price our programs in a cost-effective way.
|What's the business case for participating in a Smart Decision Guide™ program?
The cost of participating in a Smart Decision Guide™ program can be readily justified on both a content creation basis and on a lead generation basis. Consider: The cost of producing an eBook or whitepaper of comparable quality and impact in-house could easily exceed the cost of underwriting a Smart Decision Guide™. At the same time, the cost of generating the minimum guaranteed number of qualified leads through paid search (e.g., Google Adwords) and other inbound marketing tactics would also likely exceed the cost of the entire program (which includes a private-access landing page for generating any number of additional leads). The value of the program is clear in terms of ROI. It’s no surprise, then, that the available underwriting positions (generally capped at five) on most Smart Decision Guides™ tend to sell out quickly, oftentimes months in advances and with multiple repeat clients.
|Why does Starfleet Media benchmark the state of B2B content marketing?
Our annual collaborative research studies are designed to provide rich, up-to-date snapshots of how B2B companies are creating, licensing and utilizing content assets in their incessant quest to demonstrate thought leadership, raise brand visibility, and generate qualified leads. While there is plenty of useful research available on B2B content marketing, we found that there remained a number of unexplored areas that warranted further investigation. We believe that capturing the right data – from hundreds of marketers with first-hand experience – and gaining actionable insights into these areas could benefit not only our company, given our purview, but countless others, as well. We’re delighted that our benchmark research findings, which have been featured in dozens of leading publications and accessed by marketing professionals at more than 25,000 companies around the world, have helped to further educate the marketplace.