Salted liquorice, content marketing, and the battle for relevance
August 18, 2011 4:09 PM
Salted liquorice is very popular in Sweden, the Scottish love deep fried Mars bars, and in Finland sautéed reindeer is a national dish. We're all different and it should therefore be no surprise that there are also preferences for different types of content around the world.
Because like food, most regional differences stem from what is available and how tastes and markets have evolved accordingly. But what kind of content do different audiences want? As marketers we need to know, and I have some recent research that provides some of the answers...
I refer to the recent research published by IDG Connect, which reveals some very different approaches to white paper content consumption by continent. (NB: the research was focused on IT audiences, but seems nonetheless pretty robust, featuring responses from over 3,000 IT professionals). This is also a follow-up to last week's post about how content marketers have a tendency to assume that one size of content fits all audiences...
Hard facts or thought leadership?
One of the main findings of the research was that the majority of really engaged whitepaper consumers outside North America prefer local analysis, whilst North Americans have a strong preference towards thought leadership. What this seems to suggest is that whitepaper consumers outside North America prefer facts and figures because they tend not to be available. This is particularly obvious in emerging markets.
North America on the other hand appears to be saturated in local (North American) statistics and analysis, and its population is therefore more interested in thought leadership pieces. One way to view this is that delivering insight into a market is a two-part process: first people want solid information, second they want comment/opinion on what that information means. This should be very useful for IT marketers looking to target less well serviced areas.
The other thing that this survey reveals is a clear dichotomy in attitudes to global and regional reports. IT professionals in different parts of the world have very specific preferences. IDG were also good enough to provide a handy diagram (see below) that maps these differences and shows that, with the exception of Asians, most worldwide IT professionals prefer local to global content. This discrepancy could be because Asia - dependent on raw material imports and the export of finished goods - has more of a vested interested in global information.
These findings are good news for IT marketers. They show that to engage IT professionals all over the world does not require an expensive overhaul of all current information. IT professionals do want to read comparisons; they do want to know what the rest of the world is doing, but they also want content to relate to their unique circumstances. The job for smarter B2B marketers in 2012 will be to turn customisation into a standard approach rather than an optional extra.
And what does this have to do with salted liquorice? Well nothing directly, but I thought I would put IDG's theories to the test. And having cunningly optimised this blog post for Scandinavian markets, I hope it will go down particularly well there...