We live in a world dominated by IT and technology. It now intersects every aspect of our lives – both at home and at work.
But, if your business is in IT and technology, how do you capitalise on this appetite for all things tech? How do you use marketing to bestow the benefits of what you deliver to busy businesses?
Let’s take a look at some B2B marketing hints and tips for businesses supplying and supporting technology:
Know your customers
It might be that almost any business could benefit from the IT or technology you deliver. Alternatively, it could be that what you deliver is niche and targeted at a very specific market.
Be realistic about who your product or service will appeal to and aim your marketing at the ‘low hanging fruit’ – before targeting some of the more challenging segments.
Try developing one or more ‘buyer personas’. This might include one for the average CEO and another for those in the IT, sales or operations departments which would directly benefit from what you deliver. It’s important to understand the challenges they face and the kinds of marketing most likely to reach them.
If you’ve created something genuinely unique and innovative, you may wish to appeal to ‘early adopters’ – those who seek out and enjoy engaging with new technology.
If your product or service is more established or has wider appeal, it might be better to focus your marketing on more solid benefits such as being trusted.
Nerdy or not?
Your potential customers may be technical specialists (looking to enhance what they do with the latest technology or support) or other types of business people looking for a technological solution to an everyday challenge (e.g. accounts, sales or marketing).
For the former, it’s good to speak their language, utilising the terms and jargon which they use and appreciate. However, remember to focus on the benefits, not just the features.
For the latter, it’s more advisable to talk in plain language about the challenge your product or service overcomes and the benefits it therefore delivers.
It can be tricky to distil what some IT and technology-based firms do. Sometimes it can be niche or part of a bigger process or supply chain. Other times it can be varied and interact with many other functions.
Consider being asked to speak for just a minute to a room full of interested parties. How can you describe what you do, the benefits it delivers and how you set yourselves apart – in just 50 words or less?
An elevator pitch will be familiar to many in sales, but less familiar to many in IT and technology. Technical experts are not typically known for their brevity! However, a concise take on what you deliver can form the basis of your marketing, communications and sales pitch.
Marketing has to be digital, right?
Yes. For a business in IT and technology, digital marketing has to be a big part of the mix. It’s effective, expected and can be synergistic too.
However, digital marketing is part of the mix for almost any modern business – so much of the same good advice applies, albeit it in a slightly different way.
Digital marketing is a great medium to showcase what you do – whether you’re supporting IT or providing new technology which aids other aspects of business.
First, your website!
Your website needs to be strong and showcase what you do. Particularly in B2B, it’s likely most potential customers will visit it on their way to buying what you provide.
As an extension of your technical prowess, it should hopefully exemplify what you stand for and wish to communicate.
If you’re service-based, your website should be easy to navigate, informative and potentially communicate the ‘customer service’ element of what you deliver.
If you’re product-based, your website needs to make your product and it’s benefits quickly and concisely clear. You may wish to include every technical facet of what you do – but make sure that detailed information is ‘below the fold’ where it can be found if needed but does not crowd the core message of what you deliver.
Content marketing has seen the biggest explosion in B2B and B2C marketing.
Almost always disseminated by digital means, it’s particularly relevant and effective for IT and technology-based businesses.
Every article, blog or piece of content tells a story – even clickbait! The key is often to tell better stories than your competitors.
Take the time to analyse the content others are delivering and work to develop more unique – and more useful – stories. Effective content marketing is more about helping your audience, than helping yourself!
Some of today’s biggest brands tell great stories of how to solve customer problems, impact customer lives or simply provide an entertaining view on their business and culture.
Video content has become a very popular way for technology companies to introduce their solutions. While someone might not have the time to go through a brochure or data sheet, they may have time to watch a short engaging video.
Make sure your video has any key messages at the start and includes subtitles, so it can be watched without sound.
While your technology may be complex and impressive, your video should again focus on telling a compelling story. For example, describe how you developed a particular feature of what you do or walk the viewer through how you helped a specific business customer get from ‘A to B’.
Just because you’re in the B2B world doesn’t mean your videos should be dry and technical. Humorous and entertaining videos can help you stand out.
To be of value, your videos should also be useful and educational and can include content like tutorials, product demos, industry trends and ‘how-to’.
Businesses can sometimes be reluctant to embrace new IT or technology – particularly if it is unfamiliar and they are not yet convinced any bugs have been ironed out.
Client testimonials and case studies are a very powerful way to help potential customers think ‘If it worked for them, could it work for us?’
Animated Infographics & Explainers
Animated graphics are an easy and attractive way to present facts and information about your company and your product or service. Rather than having to spend the time to scroll through a datasheet, viewers get a clear picture of what the product or service solves and delivers.
Marketing-savvy tech companies are taking things a step further by producing animated infographics. These short video clips contain all the information that you would typically present on a traditional infographic but in more of a ‘slide by slide’ format. Animations are then added to help bring the statistics to life.
Build Social Credibility
A critical part of content marketing in the technology sector can be establishing yourselves as thought-leaders.
High-quality content such as whitepapers, blog posts and webinars can not only show you as a leader but attract other influencers who can increase your reach and magnify your efforts.
Identify the peers, bloggers, publications and industry experts that your target customers are following. Connect with them on LinkedIn to see who they’re following and what groups they participate in.
Interactive content has been an emerging trend in IT and technology marketing for some years.
Calculators help potential customers crunch the numbers on things like costs, return-on-investment or other metrics they might find interesting. They can be simple or complex, depending on number of inputs you want to include.
Interactive infographics bring interesting stats to life in a visual way. You can compile stats relevant to your customer and add visual elements that help them pop.
Interactive product tours help bridge the gap between overview videos and product demos. Videos are passive, so guided product tours allow prospective customers to gain a deeper understanding of what you deliver.
Interactive assessments can dig even deeper into a prospect’s business needs. They help get a handle on the current state of their business and how your solution could help. Assessments can also be used for benchmarking, showing the prospect where they stand with respect to the overall industry – and how your IT or technology can transform their standing.
Solution builders are essentially a free demo which lets users access a simple or basic version of your product so they can experience the features and benefits. They can be particularly effective for encouraging businesses to invest in a solution which represents a large investment or big change.
Personalise each experience
If you’re investing in content marketing to bring your product or service to life, it’s important to personalise your approach – particularly if the potential value of any given customer is high.
Try to link the content you share with the buyer persona which most closely matches your potential customer. Remember that differing content can be effective at various stages of the buying process. Don’t push your potential customer into the full product trial when all they initially require is some simple content to explain its relevance!
Make sure you understand the various types of customers you wish to target, their individual needs and preferences. Aim first at the more likely and obvious customers before tackling some of the tougher segments.
Use marketing and communications which are appropriate for your audience. Be technical with technical experts, but business’y with business people.
Digital marketing is likely to be critical but remember it’s largely a vehicle for effective content marketing.
Most potential customers will visit your website on the way to buying from you, so ensure it communicates the quality you want.
Focus your content marketing on giving and creating real value, not just advertising what you do. If your content is useful, so is your product or service!
Look at your competitors and try to deliver content which is more compelling. Content marketing is an investment, so make sure you’re investing enough to realistically deliver the results you need.
Particularly with IT and technology, interactive content is increasingly popular and effective. If your product or service has the potential to transform your customers’ businesses, let them experience it for themselves!
If you need any further help with marketing IT and technology, contact www.fullmixmarketing.co.uk/contact