Spiceworks sales funnelBy Mary Gospe with contributions by Pamela Hau

Spiceworks, a social network that connects marketers with IT buyers, recently held an “Unplugged” panel discussion in Mountain View, CA in which three IT professionals shared what they want from marketers. The organizations represented included a cloud-based software company, a food producer, and a government agency.

Here are best practices for how to reach this B2B audience:

 What is the typical IT buyer’s customer journey?

  1. Identify needs
  2. Conduct research
  3. Buy
  4. Deploy
  5. Maintain
  6. Replace

IT buyers begin their research by reaching out to colleagues and peers on social networks like Spiceworks and LinkedIn Groups. They’ll spend time on vendor websites but dont’ want to fill out any forms early in their buying cycle. Translated – they do not want to be bothered by marketing or sales people until they are ready to engage. This is a perfect reason to be doing lead nurturing and lead scoring via a marketing automation tool so that sales reaches out when prospects are further along in their buying cycle.

What makes good marketing content?

Use straight talk, not marketing jargon, to show that you understand IT buyer challenges and have solutions to help them and their companies succeed. Focus on building relationships with IT buyers, not just generating leads.

When creating content…

  • Be relevant and truthful
  • Humanize your brand
  • Differentiate yourself from your competition
  • Keep in mind that spec sheets, vendor comparisons, and product benefits may be preferred to long technical white papers

What are the top 3 content delivery vehicles?

  1. Video: IT Buyers love video. Short 45-60 second videos about the solutions your company offers, or better yet, customer success stories and testimonials are ideal. And don’t put the video behind a form.
  2. Webinars: Webinars are great but be sure to post the recording since it’s hard for IT buyers to attend the live event if something comes up.
  3. Events: IT buyers do get value from tradeshows – by being able to talk to multiple vendors at once and learn about the latest technologies and solutions.

What’s the best way to reach IT buyers?

Social networks like Spiceworks and LinkedIn are effective, as is email. One panelist does look at feeds from IT sites in his facebook account. Using shortened URLs from bit.ly or other vendors do not seem to be an issue.

Other suggestions:

IT buyers love 30 day trials that can be extended to 60 days. They also like proposals or packages from Sales that will help them sell a solution internally to thier management team.

Some additional marketing best practices from KickStart Alliance: 

  • Develop one or more personas so you can really understand the IT buyers you are selling to
  • Complete a positioning statement for your company and products so you can clearly differentiate yourself from the competition and nail key benefits
  • Create messages that are truthful, relevant, and humanize your brand
  • Fold messaging into videos, webinars and events and use social media, social networking sites, email and your website to reach buyers at the right time in their buying cycle. Use a combination of push – pull tactics. Pull means being found when people are looking – by having a robust website with keyword rich content and blogs. Push means using tactics that proactively get your message in front of prospects, like email, ads and social media posts.
  • Nurture your prospects over time and drip-feed content so your company’s solutions are top of mind when an IT project is initiated

For more information on IT marketing strategy, contact Mary Gospe at maryg@kickstartall.com.