Enterprise Web 2.0 – Is marketing collateral necessary?

I am currently working closely with a Swiss internet company (watch this space for more info) to launch an enterprise web 2.0 product within the UK.

During a recent meeting with the CEO, we got onto the topic of promotion and marketing collateral and whether the practise of producing brochures etc is appropriate for a web based product.

The CEO felt that it wasn’t appropriate, whereas I felt that we should: to a point, anyway.

I must admit, I can see where he is coming from in one way, but the enterprise market (stating the obvious here) is vastly different from the consumer market that web 2.0 apps are traditionally associated with.

Yes, it wouldn’t be appropriate for marketing teams to produce slick brochures for sites like MySpace and Flickr, but in the B2B market it is culturally expected to be able to send a brochure (PDF or printed) when requested. Furthermore, products aimed at the enterprise market tend to be more complex then those aimed at the consumer market and need to be ‘explained’ in something more than a 4 click tour of the product.

So what is the right answer here – should you produce brochures or not?

I believe that with the majority of enterprise web 2.0 products you do need some kind of collateral, but this should be used in combination with other techniques to communicate the benefits and functionality of your product.

What is ultimately needed is a blended approach that predominately focuses on the site to promote the product, but with a brochure to support your message.

Voice over video demos and scenario orientated examples should be at the core of your education communication strategy, but you can’t ignore power of a brochure or product sheet.

The majority of purchasing decisions with the B2B sector are made within a decision making unit, and are rarely made by one person as a result of looking at a demo on a website. A brochure is a useful way for members of the DMU to circulate consistent information about the product.

Salesforce.com, for example, has a plethora of video demos and case studies etc on their site, but when it comes to the crunch they still have a large catalogue of brochures and fact sheets that they send out to prospective clients.

So, the answer to the question of ‘collateral or not’ is that they should be used, but the site should form the core of your education communication strategy.

At the end of the day, though, I guess this is fairly subjective and I could be either correct or highly delusional and out of touch.

What does anyone else think?

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One Response to “Enterprise Web 2.0 – Is marketing collateral necessary?”

  1. PC Says:

    I agree that some form of collateral should be offered but what I am most interested in pursuing is the way these collateral are designed. In alignment with web 2.0, I would like to see if there is a smarter way to display collateral be it interactive or something, as long as it is still printable.

    Do you know any innovative ways the traditional datasheet or whitepaper can be produced and printed?

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