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5 Reasons Marketing to the Tech Buyer is Different

In one of my previous lives, I spent well over a decade working in IT building and architecting networks, supporting users and spending weekends in server rooms doing migrations. It gave me some unique perspective in marketing and evangelizing tech solutions because, at some point in my career, I was the buyer. That perspective helped me realize that approaching, marketing, and selling to the tech buyer was a bit different.

And even some of the approaches I used, say, 10 years ago to market solutions have become passé. So, while the tech buyer has changed his spots a bit, there are still a number of relevant truths that definitely apply to the tech buyer.

1. They LOVE Тheir Anonymity

Take a look at your email database. Most of you probably have an overwhelming number of "freemail" domain addresses. IT buyers won't just give up their corporate email address - they don't want to receive your "pertinent and helpful marketing emails." Now compare the number of emails you've collected with the number of unique visitors to your website. Those are the IT buyers that didn't even want to give you their gmail address.

What You Can Do

It first comes down to having a valuable enough marketing asset that is worth giving up an email address for. Build content they want to read - something that will help them do their job, make their life easier, etc. Like many companies, you may not have enough content. That's first priority. Without content, you aren't going to attract a buyer.

2. They Don't Want to Talk to Sales

Yes, yes - no one really wants to talk to sales, but the IT buyer is a caveat all their own - mostly because of the "call them immediately" nature of tech sales. IT buyers are also IT doers - that is, they are busy putting out fires and aren't just sitting by the phone waiting for a call from a rep. They especially don't want a call from a rep 5 minutes after they just downloaded a whitepaper (that they haven't even read yet!).

What You Can Do

Make the shift to more social selling over "want to buy now?" methods. If you're not familiar with social selling, it's more about building relationships than a database of names. So, Marketing's role in all of this is to help establish and nurture that relationship. Also, consider not sending leads to sales until the buyer has truly indicated they are truly ready.

3. They Talk to Their Peers More Than Anyone Else

Go check out the forums on Spiceworks. They have over 300,000 IT pros talking to each other every day about technical problems they are having... and how to solve them. They're not talking to you because you (usually) have an agenda. And if you're not there (and other forums), you're missing out on conversations you don't even know exist.

What You Can Do

Go participate where your audience is. Notice I didn't say advertise where your audience is (although advertising in forums where you participate can strike a nice balance so your buyers are aware you are selling something). Remember that relationship I said you need to start building? Here's your opportunity. I've mentioned before the need to hire full-time (technical) evangelists in order to have non-marketing conversations in these forums - they are going to be critical, as you need to add value when you participate, and not just say "I have a product."

4. They Aren't Going to Search for You

IT buyers are looking to solve a problem (that's why they ask their peers, search for relevant content to download, etc.). Most likely, they don't even know your company exists - even if they own one of your products, they may not even know you provide a solution to solve that other problem they have.

What You Can Do

So you need to be where they can find answers to their problems. Obvious choices here are SEM and SEO to capture those using search engines to do research, as well as the forum venues mentioned in #3. And if you are a company with multiple products, don't assume the customer knows about all your products. I once ran Marketing for a software company selling over 30 - there were lots of customers that would say "I didn't realize you had this solution."

5. They are Interested in you Taking Away Their Pain

This last one isn't really unique to the buyer. But I added it because many companies spend their time telling buyers what their products do. They list features, tell you how it works, how many systems it is compatible with, etc. That has little to do with the pain of the buyer. And, in a world where building a relationship with the buyer is critical, telling the buyer what your products do is about as useful as only listing your favorite outdoor activities at a speed dating event; there's no relationship built and all they have to go on is a list of stuff about you.

What You Can Do

Stop telling them about what you do and start telling them how you help them. For example, if you sell a solution that encrypts data, you probably say something like "Secures data up to 448-bit Blowfish encryption". But how about something more like "Ensure your data is secure from prying eyes with 448-bit Blowfish encryption"? It's a subtle difference, but the tone changes from being about the product to being about how it helps the buyer.

Putting the Differences to Work

I've said it before - the era of the seller is dead. We're in the era of the buyer. And with the tech buyer, that means lots of useful and relevant content, everywhere the buyer wants to be, in conversations with peers, talking specifically about their pains.

There's a lot of work to be done to get there, but master a few of these and you'll find you're naturally attracting more buyers.

Techvangelism in Action
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