It’s no secret that benchmark reports published by leading IT market research firms like Starfleet Research may be the most effective type of content asset a technology solution provider can put to work in their incessant quest to demonstrate thought leadership, raise brand visibility and generate qualified leads. According to preliminary research findings captured for The 2016 Benchmark Report on B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation, benchmark report content licensing for lead generation purposes increased by 15 percent over the past 12 months.
Fact-based reports from research firms that are experts in their fields can provide a “cloak of credibility” that cannot be obtained from vendor-produced and -branded content assets, which prospects often perceive as little more than marketing collateral masquerading as thought leadership. For many solution providers, the decision of whether or not to license a report may depend on: 1.) whether the report profiles their company and solution in a favorable light; and/or 2.) whether the report aligns sufficiently well with their key go-to-market messages, platform capabilities and how they wish to educate the marketplace.
In our experience, the latter should carry more weight than the former, particularly given the risk that prospects could perceive third-party content that sings praises of their company or solution as a “pay-for-play” situation. This is a common source of criticism in the industry. The perception can undermine the credibility of a report — and also, possibly, compromise the integrity of the research firm that produced it.
Needless to say, most market research firms have paid relationships with solution providers. Starfleet Research, our IT market research arm, is no exception. But that doesn’t mean that every research firm needs to write nice things about its clients in order to win their business. In the case of Starfleet Research, we refrain from writing about specific vendors or solutions altogether. That makes it easy to maintain objectivity, even if it may also at times mean leaving money on the table.