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Internet no. 1 as 'very useful' info resource, specialized pubs no. 2: survey.

A new study, by Starch for the Canadian Business Press, finds 76% of respondents find the Internet to be "very useful" as an information source, up from 53% in 2004.

Specialized business publications rank second, with 67% calling them very useful, a two-point drop from 2004.

Trade shows ranked third, with 67% saying they are very useful, up from 56% in 2004. Conventions and seminars are fourth, ranked "very useful" by 56%, up from 50%. Salespeople were most useful for 51%, up from 50%.

The question is, what is the internet "very useful" for? After visiting a business-related website, 90% of respondents took one or more of these actions: 72% made an inquiry, 71% sourced a supplier or product, and 50% made a purchase.

When the Internet Can't Be Beat

That shouldn't surprise you, when you learn that the respondents were people involved in developing specifications, selecting suppliers or approving expenditures for their company or business.

To be very honest, we don't think the Internet can be beat for actions tied to the buying process. This also explains why direct mail was ranked very useful by 39% of buyers. Still, that's better than daily newspapers (30%), specialty television (21%), news magazines (19%), network television (18%), radio (18%) and general interest consumer magazines (17%).

We're not surprised that people making business purchase decisions don't rely on mass media such as newspapers, specialty tv, news magazines, network television, radio or general interest consumer magazines. Business-oriented ads generally don't appear in those media, and neither do narrow-focus stories.

But if you asked those same executives what media they found most useful for learning what os going on in their community, where traffic jams are right now, where they look for information on what cars to buy, what clothes are on sale, what entertainment events are going on this weekend, they'd say that the general mass media are "very useful" for that purpose, and the Internet, specialized business publications and trade shows would rank very low.

Does the Internet really trump specialized publications, even for purchase decisions? It all depends on what one is trying to do. We think that question is answered by how much the reader already knows. If, for example, the reader knows he needs to buy specific office supplies, he's going to find a web site more useful than a publication.

But when it comes to arousing interest, we suspect the publication is more effective. Consider this example: You're leafing through a business publication when you see a story that one of the leaders in your industry has put solar panels on the roof and has cut his energy bills by 10%. That might pique your interest. What do you do next? You probably go to the internet to start researching local suppliers, others who have done it, etc.

Twenty years ago, before the Internet, you would have filled out a "bingo card" and waited four to six weeks to get information from suppliers. Today, you see a story in a newsletter or magazine, go onto the Web and get information almost instantly. That's a step forward. But it doesn't diminish the usefulness of the newsletter or magazine itself.


Joel Whitaker

Editor and Publisher

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Author:Whitaker, Joel
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 7, 2010
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