As a customer of Sourcegear (Vault) and Fog Creek (FogBugz), I was thinking today about how much blogs are influencing my purchasing decisions. I don't think we can call it "Marketing", its more like "Blogeting".
In the past I would learn about new products either from a friend or by seeing an advertisement. My decision to purchase was based almost exclusively on the demo experience. I'm sure that I missed out on a lot of great products simply because I didn't "get it" when I played with their demonstration product. If they didn't hook me within 10 minutes I moved on without so much as a second thought.
But with these two products something different occurred; I learned about them from the owner's personal blog (Eric Sink of Sourcegear and Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek). This changed the entire sales paradigm by injecting a personal connection not found in normal business relationships. I found I cared more about them, their company, and their products. I was no longer dealing with "Faceless Company X" but a real human being. I was buying a product from someone that I knew, I liked, and wanted to be involved with.
This connection also effected my demo experience. Although in both cases I found the initial releases didn't fit me, I didn't walk away. This was because I wanted to like their products. I liked them so much, how could I not? So I stuck around and eventually purchased each product when it did fit my needs (I purchased Vault at 1.1 and FogBugz at 3.0). And since I had watched the product grow and became part of the community around the product, I can't see me ever leaving.
I'm a customer for life and that means a lot in today's market. Thanks guys.