I was recently listening to a panel of IT buyers that included two, senior level IT Managers. One Manager worked for a Medical organization, and one for a local government branch. During this panel the IT Mangers talked about their IT Buying research process and what types of content they value.
This might be some of the best content marketing advice you will read, since it’s direct from the very people we are trying to engage with every day.
What Does Not Work:
Chest Thumping - don't tell me you are the best, cheapest, or fastest – there is always a line of others claiming to be these at the same time.
Further discussions from these two IT pros also expanded that Speed and Feed Bragging and ROI Documents as content types require vendors to make assumptions on infrastructure set ups. When every vendor in the space has different specs set up for these tests, there are no apples to apples versions. This just adds noise to the environment. Additionally the ROI Document types also require knowing their business to a very granular level. Both IT buyers noted that making these assumptions only make vendors lose credibility rather than offer useful, relevant, information.
Make it work – They both agreed that if Pitch is more about problem than solution it's effective - speeds and feeds/ROI come later in the discussion, likely during sales engagements.
My Take – It’s not a true differentiator to be better, cheaper or faster. That’s commoditization. Lead with real features that ease pain points.
Don’t be Clueless – Both buyers agreed the worst thing you can do is be clueless. Asking "how can we help with your IT decisions?" is a terrible start. Take 30 seconds to look at the Buyers organization and make sure you speak to their pain points.
Make it work - This is where a combination of buyer personas, industry targeting, and sales intelligence will make a huge benefit.
What Does Work: Our IT Buyers obviously had no problem sharing what types of content annoy them, but they also shared some insights into what they value in content:
Stay focused on my problems - This is content marketing 101, but as long as we continue to see people not following this rule, I will reiterate it.
Lead with differentiators – As noted above this doesn’t include being cheaper, faster, or better. Talk about real features and functions. Tie those back to solving the business problems.
Take it further – use comparison pieces. At the end of the day the buyers are tasked with comparing vendors. Doing this only makes their jobs easier, and it enables you to steer (not control) the conversation into your favor. Using 3rd parties to do this is an added bonus.
Be Honest – IT Buyers are smart people. If you are not honest about the benefits, as well as your strengths and weaknesses they will see through it. Gain credibility by being honest about weakness. Marketing Experiments has good insights expanding on this.
Don’t forget the “How Statement” – When you create content speaking to the business benefits of your solutions, you must address “how” your products helped the business. Eric Wittlake expands more on this concept in his post where in summary he says their systems work today; you need help them see on all levels how the business will be impacted with your solutions.
Be Humble – Again, as noted above don’t chest thump. Perhaps Toby Keith said it best in his song – “I want to talk about me”. Picture Toby Keith as the IT buyer and IT vendors are the girl. If Toby Keith is your “buyer”, talk about him.