Friday Rants: Blog Sponsorship and Payback

Over on Sourcing Innovation today, Michael Lamoureux (AKA the Doctor) took it upon himself to start shaking the tin cup for vendor dollars in 2009. To be candid, I have a huge amount of respect for what Michael has been able to do with Sourcing Innovation. He took the Spend Matters business plan (which I provided to him), modified it a bit to suit his purposes -- and has continued to adopt it as we make changes -- and cranked up the volume and quality of the content. It's all good stuff and I believe a great service to the sector. And Michael keeps cranking to say the least. But in his post, he misses a few key points on why blogs are a good investment (I also disagree on traffic numbers and related claims but that's a far less critical point to argue). More important, there are a few trends that play to the fact that sponsorship of leading blogs such as SM and SI that we need to get on the table:

1) Technology, services and outsourcing buyers are increasingly using blogs both as a first step in their research to create short-lists as well to better understand specific capabilities and differentiators when they enter the decision process. I believe that blogs are largely displacing analyst firms in this written regard (though not from an advisory perspective). And we're not yet doing 2/2s either. Still, top blogs are becoming increasingly influential at all stages of the tech buying process and having your logo slapped front and center at the apex of evaluation and research is an opportunity that did not previously exist.

2) As research advertising budgets drop in 2009 due to recession, Spend Management professionals will increasingly be looking for free sources of objective information (or free to them, as the case may be). And top blogs completely fill the bill. If you're not sponsoring our pages, you won't be top of mind, except when we mention you in a post (which even for the larger providers, is not all that often). So ask yourself: do you want to be visible or not when short-list decision making is happening or a specific buying decision is being made? If you also consider how conference travel budgets will be dropping next year, it's further evidence that blogs will be a top investment to reach practitioners in the research and learning phase of their decision making process for tech, service and outsourcing cost reduction investments.

3) The influence of blogs cannot be understated. Nearly all of the analysts and journalists in the space -- and many of the consultants -- turn to Spend Matters in their own research. So when you sponsor a blog, you're not just reaching end users. You're also influencing the influencers. So consider it part of your AR and PR budget as well.

That's it from me on the subject today. I could go for the jugular of alternative options (not Sourcing Innovation, BTW, which I agree with Michael is an excellent investment), but I'll restrain myself -- this plug is gratuitous enough in its current form. Still, now is the absolute best time to get in on the blog play as we continue to build our momentum and overall influence in the market (to see some of the companies that read Spend Matters click on the PDF link on the upper right -- please note, however, that this list does not include many middle market firms who comprise an increasingly growing percentage of readership). Also, to learn more about our specific opportunities, please click here. And remember, one Lead Sponsorship is also available, though I suspect it will not last for long.

Bottom line: I'll put my street cred on the line by stating that blog sponsorship of SM and SI is the best marketing investment you can make for 2009. And as a final aside, while Michael and I may quibble on what type of content is most useful -- and even jab at each other over it -- you can be sure that having two independent voices is better than one. And that's why I strongly support his efforts and I think you should too.

- Jason Busch

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