It’s sad but true, Virginia—less than half of IT decision makers consider the marketing content they receive from the vendor community to be of any use. How do we know this? We polled them of course! Surveys never lie, but there’s reason to believe that this one was particularly accurate. For one thing, the sample was quite sizeable—over 860 corporate IT buyers. For another, its conclusion is supported by droves of anecdotal evidence: Literally dozens of formal interviews, casual conversations and email exchanges that we’ve conducted with corporate IT managers during the past year echo this view. (A survey and whitepaper, “Tech Marketing Best Practices: The Complex Purchasing Process” can be downloaded here. )
So how do we get on the right side of this equation and ensure that the content we deliver to this audience is both useful and well received?
If you chat with an IT executive, and ask what sort of content he or she finds useful when researching a new project or purchase, that executive will generally mention three things:
1. The information has to be credible. In other words, it has to be derived from information sources that are recognizable, verifiable and respected.
2. The information has to be relevant. More on this in a moment.
3. The information has to be accessible. In other words, if your prospective buyers can’t find it quickly and easily, it doesn’t matter how relevant and credible it is; it’s just not going to do them any good.
Of these three concerns, the second is the most pivotal. After all, if an IT decision maker isn’t interested in the topic you’re discussing, then he is not going to care whether he can locate the information or trust its source. So the more closely your marketing content is aligned with the immediate needs, concerns and perspectives of the prospects, the more relevant they will find it.
In our experience at UBM TechWeb, the chief reason so many IT buyers are turned off by vendor content is because the material is presented from the vendor’s point of view—not the IT buyer’s. This is a very easy sort of error for a marketing department to fall into. Companies, like people, get caught up in their own dealings and end up seeing the world through their own prism. It may be a perfectly valid viewpoint, but it tends to reflect your boss’s priorities—not the buyer’s.
Instead, tech marketers, or any other brand marketer for that matter, need to develop content that deliberately and explicitly addresses the buyer’s viewpoint. Here are some key things to consider:
• Are you speaking to the right audience?
Different segments of buyers in a market vertical look at the same issue differently. For instance, in the IT market, it’s often much easier for small to medium businesses (SMBs) to outsource certain services, since they have smaller IT departments and fewer legacy systems in place. Enterprises, on the other hand, often have much higher thresholds for governance, regulatory and security requirements that have to be met. Your content should reflect the concerns of the group you want to target.
• Are you answering your buyer’s most important question?
Nine times out of ten it’s this: Why is the product or service being promoted important to the prospect? In other words, what business benefits will the buyer receive from the offering? Do a good job of answering this and the content’s relevancy goes way up.
• Are the prospects’ most important concerns being addressed?
What’s the current business environment like for the target buyers? What are their biggest challenges? What opportunities are they trying to seize? Addressing these questions puts the message in a context that really matters to the prospects.
• Are you providing data and analysis your audience can’t easily get someplace else?
This is a great way to provide unique value that will engage prospects. Conducting a survey is one way to get this kind of information. It gives a report credibility and the opportunity to collect data that’s specific to a target market.
If you want your content to be useful, it has to pass the buyer-perspective litmus test. Once it does, then you’ve taken an all-important step towards attracting and engaging with your target audience.