|What’s a Smart Decision Guide™?
Smart Decision Guides™ are multisponsored eBooks that are independently produced by Starfleet Research, our IT market research arm and a world leader in benchmarking best practices in technology-enabled business iniatives. These unbiased content assets are widely regarded as definitive and authoritative resources for decision makers researching next-generation technology solutions in niche markets that include retail, hospitality and healthcare. Some Smart Decision Guide™ titles are now in their fifth and sixth editions. Approximately 40 pages in length, a Smart Decision Guide™ offers a treasure trove of practical guidance and actionable insights and a roadmap for success in making informed buying decisions — and, also, for maximizing the value of the investment following implementation. Combining expert commentary from subject matter experts with best practices research based on the experiences of thousands of industry practitioners with firsthand experience with the technology solutions at hand, 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. In fact, year-over-year sponsorship renewals on many Smart Decision Guides™ titles are 100 percent. There is no better testament to the benefits we deliver through this turnkey progam and overall client success. Smart Decision Guides™ are distributed and promoted in partnership with dozens of leading industry trade publications (including our own leading properties) and associations. Landing pages are search engine and mobile optimized and made accessible via inbound marketing tactics, including paid search and social media, so as to be readily found by decision makers at all stages of the buying cycle.
|Why associate our brand with a Smart Decision Guide™?
Our turnkey approach to B2B content marketing and lead generation makes it easy for solution providers in specific niche markets to get their brands in front of the right decision makers at the right point in time and grow their businesses in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible. By participating as an underwriter of a Smart Decision Guide™, you’ll be leveraging the thought leadership and global reputation of Starfleet Research, our IT market research arm. At the same time, you'll be harnessing the power of our extensive content distribution network, enabling you to raise brand visibility while finding those proverbial needles in the haystack – i.e., decision makers who are in the market right now to buy your category of solution and wish to be contacted. 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 program period (during which time you'll receive a guaranteed number of leads based on your target prospect criteria).
|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, companies need to fill their resource libraries with a large and ever-growing collection of content assets, including eBooks, research reports, whitepapers, videos, infographics and webinars. While some technology solution providers may be inclined to produce the bulk of their content assets in-house, keep in mind that licensed research reports from reputable third-party research firms almost always perform better than company-only branded resources, which tend to be viewed by target prospects as self-serving marketing collateral. When in the market for a new technology solution, decision makers search for unbiased guidance from trusted resources, particularly recognized market research firms. That’s why a Smart Decision Guide™ independently produced by Starfleet Research, will invariably perform better in content marketing campaigns, generating more leads and higher-quality leads. A "cloak of credibility" can make a world of difference. 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.
|Why partner with Starfleet Media?
The proof is in the pudding when people come back for a second helping. Solution providers often secure their sponsorship spots on a Smart Decision Guide™ title in which they previously participated more than 6 smonths in advance. Year-over-year sponsorship renewals on many titles are 100 percent, meaning that all 5 sponsors participate in consecutive years' editions of the same title, sometimes for multiple years in a row. The 2018 Smart Decision Guide to Hospitality Revenue Management, for example, had the same 5 sponsors, all of them industry leaders, in 2015, 2016 and 2017. It’s no surprise that our turnkey content marketing program performs so well. First of all, content is king. Starfleet Research, our IT market research arm, produces invaluable content that addresses the needs of decision makers researching specific technology solutions. Secondly, our world-class team brings decades of leadership experience in B2B marketing services, including content marketing and lead generation. Continuing to build on our industry knowledge, and also by having forged partnerships with a top-tier CPA (Google AdWords) bidding agency, leading content distribution partners and our own leading media properties, such as Hotel Technology News, we 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 for the benefit of our clients.
|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 available underwriting positions (generally capped at five) on most Smart Decision Guide™ titles tend to sell out quickly, oftentimes months in advance and with the same 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.