Top Influences on Tech Buy Cycle

Just wandering through MarketingSherpa’s Business Technology Buyers 2008-2009 report. Interesting data about the top influences on the buy cycle, broken out by stage.

Not surprisingly, word of mouth, web sites, and search engines made it into the top for every stage. Note that word of mouth has been supplanted by manufacturer web sites in the research stage.

• It’s critical to have a decent marketing awareness program running or you may not make it into the buying cycle.
• A good buzz program is key. If your customers, the press, and key industry influencers aren’t talking about you, you’re lost in a sea of also-rans.
• If you don’t have a decent web site — easy to navigate, not just a product pitch site, lots of good technical content — you’re a non-starter.
• And for goodness sake, get to the top of the search engines, preferably both natural and ppc.

From the report:

Awareness Stage:
1. Word of mouth
2. Manufacturer web sites
3. Distributor web sites
4. Search engines
5. Trade publications

Research Stage:
1. Manufacturer web sites
2. Word of mouth
3. Search engines
4. Distributor web sites
5. Trade publications and paid consultants (tied)

Negotiation Stage:
1. Word of mouth
2. Manufacturer web sites
3. Distributor web sites
4. Search engines
5. Trade shows

Purchase Stage:
1. Word of mouth
2. Search engines and manufacturer web sites (tied)
3. Distributor web sites
4. Paid consultants
5. Trade publications

Lots of great detail in this report. I highly recommend it.


  1. Joe Lewis says:

    Totally makes sense. Marketing leaders have been promoting PR over advertising and storytelling, viral marketing, for years. Trade publications….. a dying outlet?

  2. sharilee says:

    Trade pubs have moved down on the hierarchy, but they aren’t the low man on the totem pole yet. Lower were print directories, seminars, direct mail…of course they’ve been lower for as long as I’ve been in the business!

  3. A couple of things stand out from the list. The first is that all stages combine easy-to-find data (web sites and publications) with credible, trusted influencers(word of mouth, consultants, certain publications). Second, each source puts the buyer in control of when to start shopping and when to move on to the next stage. With direct mail, email or telemarketing you may hit a few customers who are ready, but odds are slim.

  4. sharilee says:

    You are right, Michael. Combine easy to find data with trusted sources, then supplement with drip marketing to build brand recognition, like an info-packed e-newsletter.

    Anyone who doubts that customers are in control, has been walking around with their eyes closed!

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