- See yourself as a steward of IT buyer research — The biggest value marketers can bring to the complex technology sale is the research experience they create for the buyer in every dimension, from digital targeting to your website to the nurture track and sales handoff. How easy is it for the buyer to find the content they need from you where and when they need it? How well do you balance prospect engagement with the creep factor? How pushy are you in your drip emails and CTAs? Always putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes will actually drive them down the funnel faster and lead to more conversions. (We see it all the time.)
- Map content to people, not personas — IT marketers across the world are now having earnest discussions about buyer personas and their respective journeys. That’s great, but too often these exercises get really theoretical, really fast, and the person gets lost in the persona. Want to really understand what specific pieces of information your buyers actually need at given stages in the purchase? Just ask them. Survey and interview recent purchasers of the solution about their experience—from researching the technology to evaluating options to building a case internally to executing the deployment—and ask them what questions they had at every step. What type of content did they need that they had a hard time finding or didn’t get at all? Getting specific anecdotal feedback from actual buyers will make it easier to build your content library, and it will be more on-target too.
- Adopt just-in-time content marketing — Let’s say your sales team is talking to a financial services industry VP of IT about a $2 million converged infrastructure project. The opportunity is promising, but he is hung up on one thing: He is having a hard time painting a detailed picture of what ROI will look like for his CIO and CFO. If you don’t have existing content that speaks to this scenario, wouldn’t it be worth creating a couple of briefs that specifically address the concerns of financial services CIOs and CFOs when considering a converged infrastructure investment? This is a great way to accelerate ongoing opportunities while steadily building a deep library of highly targeted content for future marketing.
- Think outside the gate — As any regular participant in the Spiceworks tech marketing community can tell you, IT pros hate the gate. While putting a contact form in front of content assets is sometimes necessary, you should keep it limited to truly substantive, lower-funnel assets. You should also be looking for creative ways to avoid the gate while still capturing data. (We have some unique ways of doing this. Just ask.)
I finally had a chance a couple weekends ago to watch the last episodes of Mad Men on Netflix. It was hard to let go of one of my favorite shows of the last decade, but in the context of my life as a marketer it felt right to be (spoiler alert!) leaving Don Draper meditating on Coke creative atop the cliffs of Big Sur: The days of the marketer as broadcaster, as dictator of taste, as dominant voice in the conversation are long gone—in B2C and B2B. You can argue it is less fun, maybe even less creative, but one thing you cannot argue against is that in a digital world the buyer is in the driver’s seat and marketing is riding shotgun. For IT marketers that means thinking less like Don Draper and more like a good customer service rep. It’s an approach we call buyer-centricity, and it goes hand-in-hand with the fundamentals of good content marketing, not to mention just plain old common sense. Here’s 4 key steps on the road to buyer-centric IT marketing: