Content Marketing For IT Vendors Archives

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Businessman Keeping Protective CaseDragging real insights out of subject matter experts (SMEs) for white papers can sometimes seem like pulling teeth. One of the most common excuses I get is some variation on “We don’t want to give too much of our solution away.”

In other words, if you share too much of your intellectual property (IP) with the customer about how you can solve their problem, they won’t call because there’s nothing left to talk about. That never made much sense to me. When it comes to software, the more completely you describe the problem and your solution to it, the more likely a customer is to buy. (Are they going to go off and re-code your software themselves?) And if you’re selling services, every customer is unique enough that even the longest white paper won’t teach them how to do what you do.

I’ve always urged my clients to go big with the details describing how they’re so smart and their competitors are clueless. Here’s how a recent white paper from security vendor Cybereason (no, not written by me) did a brilliant job of promoting their expertise by going deep into the details.

Dirty Rotten DGAs

Cybereason provides a “real-time attack detection and response platform that uses endpoint data to detect and remediate simple and complex threats.” To showcase the specific skills they bring to this somewhat generic area, a recent white paper shared what they learned about a specific type of attack called Domain Generation Algorithms (DGAs.)

DGAs get around conventional security software that blocks down malicious domains by, as the name implies, generating as many as a thousand fake domains per day. Here, in my view, is what Cybereason did right in educating its prospects about them.

If You Know It, Flaunt It

If your internal experts are good at their jobs, they’re the best source for compelling content. In this white paper, Cybereason relied heavily on its own work finding and fighting DGAs. You may not have an in-house security lab, but you probably have:
Field engineers who see common configuration errors customers make with your hardware or software.
Salespeople with insights into what tools, technologies or issues are most important to customers and why.
Your own engineers who have creative ideas about what new capabilities customers might like and could use a reality check by blogging about them and asking for feedback.

Lesson: Don’t underestimate the amount of valuable insights within your own organization and don’t be afraid to share them.

Grisly Details, Please

Just like in a movie or book, it’s the details that make your story real. Rather than cower in fear it was giving away proprietary goodies, Cybereason dove deep into the workings of eight DGAs ranging from “Necurs” to “Pykspa” to “Unknown Punycode-like.” It shared everything from screenshots to examples of fake domains and the associated country codes, including .ga (Gabon), .im (Isle of Man) and .sc (Seychelles). Note this is detailed information you could argue a customer could use without buying their product. But in reality, this level of detail does more to describe the urgent need for a solution like Cybereason’s than eliminate the need for it.

Lesson: Share the real-world details that show you know your stuff.

Don’t Forget the Newbies

Before the deep technical details, Cybereason set the stage with a review of where DGAs fit in the overall security picture (by establishing command and control over the affected system.) It also explained why DGAs are so hard to detect with traditional security methods.

This context and background is essential because not all of your prospects (or everyone involved in the purchase) will have a deep background in security. SMEs are often so close to their subject matter that they dive right in with acronyms, formulae and frameworks before telling the reader why they should care.

Lesson: Write the white paper so your significant other, spouse or parent could get the point.

A Real Screen Turner

Overall, this white paper felt almost like a news story and kept me reading. If anything, it could have been a bit more promotional with more details on how Cybereason fights these pests. But that can be the hook for the next white paper.

Have you found “more is better” in sharing your smarts or did you get more follow-ups by leaving prospects wanting more?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

You Want The Case Study That Google Got

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how to create detailed case studiesIn the past, I’ve ranted about what vendors leave out of their case studies, what they need to make them great, and how much of your “secret sauce” you should reveal in them.

But rarely do I see a case study that is so good it sets the bar for the industry. It involves Spotify switching from its own data centers to Google to host its streaming music service. Published in the form of a blog post from Spotify, it goes far beyond the usual “apple pie and motherhood” generalities to describe specifically why Spotify chose Google over other cloud providers.

Maybe this level of detail results from what sort of a discount Spotify got. More likely it has to do with an engineering-centric culture at Spotify that led them to share the technical details behind their infrastructure growth in gleeful detail.

But instead of wondering how this case study came about, let’s talk about what makes it so good and how you can try for the same level of detail with your customers.

Why They Choose Google – Specifically

In its blog post announcing the shift, Spotify said:

What really tipped the scales towards Google for us…has been our experience with Google’s data platform and tools. Good infrastructure isn’t just about keeping things up and running, it’s about making all of our teams more efficient and more effective, and Google’s data stack does that for us in spades… (f)rom traditional batch processing with Dataproc, to rock-solid event delivery with Pub/Sub to the nearly magical abilities of BigQuery, building on Google’s data infrastructure provides us with a significant advantage where it matters the most.

Note that Spotify went beyond euphemisms such as “enhancing efficiency” or “end to end solution” to talk specifically about how Google helps them cut costs and improve the streaming experience for their users. It also mentioned specific Google  tools. While the post could have been more specific about how those tools helped, it’s already head and shoulders above most case studies.

Questions to ask your customers to get similar results include:

  • What specific products or services from other vendors did you consider besides ours?
  • For each of our offerings you chose , describe the specific benefits (such as lower cost, higher performance, greater ease of use) that drove your choice, with at least one example of how we were better in each area.
  • What strategic aims or needs (such as optimizing use of your infrastructure or assuring a great customer experience) drove your purchase decision? Please provide an example of how each of our products or services helps you reach these high-level objectives.

Honesty – Painful Honesty

In its more detailed “deep dive” technical blog post,  the Spotify team also discussed frankly what they don’t like among Google’s tools and services. It found, for example, that the Google Cloud Deployment Manager was too difficult to use, leading it to build its own  Spotify Pool Manager to more easily spin up new servers as needed.

Admitting your own products aren’t the absolute ideal fix for every customer, regardless of their needs, takes courage. Standing by graciously while one of your customers does so ain’t easy either.  But the smart, and ethical, product managers I talk all the time are the first to know, and admit, when one of their solutions isn’t a good fit for a specific customer. Just imagine the credibility you get by being as honest, and as technical, as Spotify is when talking about Google.

Sweat the Details

The common theme here is the importance of details in making a case study come alive. Push your customers to explain what they mean by jargon such as “transformation” or generalities such as “agility.” Digging into specifics helps tell your story, and may even give you added insight into your client’s needs for follow-on sales.

 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
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transformationMany marketers talk “transformation” but fewer can deliver it – or even define it. Look beneath the covers, and what sounds so impressive turns out to be only incremental cost-cutting.

But one recent case study I wrote for a global professional services company got me thinking of the “T” word. The reason: The “transformation” we described delivered substantial, ongoing improvements as well as permanent changes in how their customer operated.

Angle One: Beyond Cost-Cutting

That customer was a major telecommunications provider with hundreds of applications and tens of thousands of servers and databases. It was looking for a new outsourcer to take over and improve its operations, cut its operating costs by at least 30% and reduce the number of service outages and the delays in fixing them.

What makes this “transformation: The goals went beyond just reducing the costs of normal IT operations. The customer wanted fundamental change and improvement in the quality of service the business providers its customers.  

Angle Two: Working Differently

The customer’s goals included overhauling many of its internal processes. This included improving communications among its internal and external support staff, increased consistency among their support processes and establishing and enforcing service level agreements (SLAs). The customer also wanted its support group to be able to scale up the amount and type of services it provides. On the measurement side, the customer needed to assess the outsourcer’s work by its impact on the business, not just IT. One example: The ability to easily ramp up infrastructure to meet the traffic needs of big revenue-generating events such as major league games or concerts.

What makes it “transformation?” Making permanent, significant changes in internal work processes, not just doing the same old things a bit more quickly or inexpensively.

Angle Three: Ongoing Benefits

The customer wanted the service provider to do 15 percent more work while reducing costs by 15 percent each year. The service provider is achieving this through, among other things, increased automation of IT processes and shifting from a traditional time and material model to managed services linked to business needs.  The service provider also has a road map for taking on the support of additional systems, is broadening its SLAs to cover additional metrics, and training first-level service teams to handle more problems.

What makes it “transformation?” Improvements that keep giving over time, not just a one-time cost or performance boost.

Uncovering the “Transformative” Angles

In working with clients or your internal subject matter experts, try these questions to better uncover how you’re doing “transformation” for your white papers, case studies and other collateral.

  • How are we permanently changing our customer’s systems or processes for the better?
  • How will our product and services deliver ongoing (not just one-time) benefits for the customer?
  •  What is fundamentally new and different for the customer after the implementation of our product or service?
  •  Draw “before” and “after” pictures of the customer’s systems, processes or business structure to show what you’ve changed. If you don’t see much difference between the two, make sure you’ve captured all the real changes by re-asking the questions above.

And finally, if it ain’t transformation, don’t pretend it is. As Gartner noted several years ago, transformation can sour outsourcing deals by leading customers to expect more than they’re really getting.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
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technology road maps If good content marketing creates conversations with your customers, what better conversation could there be than learning what customers want in your next-generation products?

Google recently gave the disk drive industry some free, and detailed, market research in the form of a speech, a blog post and even a detailed white paper. Google’s wish list is interesting to me both from a technical storage perspective, and from says more generally about what you can learn from your customers.

The Storage Lessons…

Among the new, interesting points Google raised were:

  • How much video is driving cloud storage demand, and the need for disks optimized to stream video. (Season Four, House of Cards, anyone?)
  • And per those needs, that Google is willing “to pay a higher gigabyte price for storage, so long as it delivers a lower total cost of ownership as well as higher capacity and higher I/O operations per second.”
  • That solid state drives, despite how prices have fallen, are still too expensive for massive cloud deployment.
  • The need to “optimize the collection of disks, rather than a single disk in a server.” This includes accepting somewhat higher disk failure rates, as the data is likely stored on another disk as well.
  • A call for taller disk drives, and thus “more platters per disk, which adds capacity” and amortizes the costs of packaging, the printed circuit board, and the drive motor/actuator. “Given a fixed total capacity per disk, smaller platters can yield smaller seek distances and higher RPM, due to platter stability, and thus higher IOPS, but worse GB/$,”
  • And the importance of security in disk drive design, especially in areas like preventing hacks to the drive firmware. This is not something I often see in storage marketing material.

…and the Marketing Lessons

Google was good enough (and has enough clout) to begin this visionary conversation about the next generation of storage. I don’t see any reasons why any vendor in the technology sector, couldn’t start such a conversation without making it sound like a mere marketing ploy.

For example:

  • Write a “next-generation product roadmap” based on conversations with customers, insights from your technical visionaries and analysts you trust. Then open it up (via social media and online polling) to feedback and discussion.
  • Break out separate elements of your product roadmap and continue the discussion via blogs, contributed editorials, etc. Describe why you think each element is or isn’t important, and invite feedback.
  • Describe the “ifs, ands and buts” that would make each future product feature more or less valuable. In the disk drive example, is there some new solid state memory technology (maybe your own) that would make solid state drives more affordable than customers expect? Is there a new type of exploit that makes protection against firmware hacks even more important?
  • Make a quick poll about future feature sets part of every Webinar or blog post you do. Build your “next generation” wish list one piece at a time.

A final thought: Disk drives are (how do I say this?) not the sexiest, most leading edge product. They’re part of the IT plumbing and, some would argue, a commodity. If Google could make them interesting, and tie them to more compelling trends like video on demand and security, we should be able to do the same with almost any technology solution.

All we need is the imagination to get started, and the commitment to leverage what we find for thought leadership (and to guide product development.)

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

No Messaging, No Payoff In Marketing Automation?

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how boost ROI marketing automation When I work with clients on white papers, Web sites and other collateral, the hardest part is often getting them to explain what the heck they want to say.

Veteran marketer Tom Grubb has found the same thing while implementing marketing automation at companies such as CA Technologies. In this guest post Grubb, chief strategy officer at digital marketing agency Digital-Pi, explains how a lack of proper positioning can hobble entire marketing automation efforts.

What do you hear from the Monday morning quarterbacks after your marketing program results are in and they failed to deliver great results?

“Your subject line sucked.”

“The landing pages were confusing.”

“I told you not to put that graphic there.”

That white paper?  Really?”

Yeah, you could have tested your subject line, landing page, graphics and the offer.  But there may be something much bigger lurking beneath your lackluster program performance than a tweak here or a swap there that you overlooked:  your company/product messaging – or lack thereof.   If you don’t get your messaging right and tight, the revenue you take will rarely equal the marketing investment you make.

This ah-ha moment struck me during a two-day engagement in San Antonio with an established SaaS business going to market as a newly independent company.  Ken Rutsky, an expert on messaging and positioning asked me to collaborate with him to advise on technology, demand gen, and go-to-market.  We had a game plan for the two days centered on funnels, forecasting models, user experience and a marketing technology stack. After we defined the structure and segmentation for their market, my partner Ken the messaging master drove a mini brainstorming session that resulted in a rough messaging and positioning architecture for their business.  That evening, Ken worked his magic on the day’s rough messaging turning ideas into words and structure in a way that was clear, concise, logical, and effective.

When we reviewed his work with the team the next morning, it was clear to me that this was the cornerstone to the success for the rest of our work – and the marketing programs that would soon follow.  The big idea is this: marketing automation and program execution divorced from great messaging and positioning can significantly reduce ROI on marketing investments.  ­By the same measure, great messaging and positioning can enable – and therefore greatly improve your returns on marketing investments.

When I was at Intuit, getting messaging and positioning right and tight was table stakes for every Intuit business unit.  I learned Intuit’s “message mapping process,” but more important I learned the power of using a messaging methodology to get everyone in every role at the business on the same page.  All were able to clearly articulate what was unique, compelling and great about our products.  It made marketing so much faster and easier because we always stuck to the blueprint, no matter what tactic or program we brought to bear.

If messaging and positioning are so important – so fundamental to great marketing – why then don’t more companies build and maintain a great messaging foundation?  Here are a few reasons that come to mind:

  • Company somehow believes they have it – but they don’t
  • Messaging is not aligned to where the company is today
  • Messaging is not aligned to where the market/competition is today
  • Various factions in the company make up their own versions of messaging
  • Messaging was built by someone who doesn’t really understand how to build great messaging
  • Stakeholders were left out of the message building process and don’t understand or have any interest in following it
  • The messaging is not documented in a usable way

And what happens?  Everyone at your company can interpret your company’s value to mean something different on any given day, for any marketing initiative.  All marketing disciplines are diminished: public relations, demand-gen, investor relations—all of it.

So what can you do?  For starters, give serious thought to getting someone outside of your company to help you get your messaging defined; if you have messaging in place, ask yourself if it could use a refresh, a re-think, or another set of eyes outside your business to give it a look.  Our visit to San Antonio was the catalyst that made creating a great messaging architecture possible for our client.  We looked at their business from the outside, bringing new ideas and reinforced some of their thinking around how they could segment their market, surface their value and differentiation, and go-to-market in a strong, cohesive way.

The message is clear: get your messaging and positioning defined and documented and put it to work in your marketing.  With your messaging right and tight, you are more likely to find that the revenue you take will be more than the marketing investments you make.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

When Is Lousy Content Good Enough?

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quality content marketing SEO experts keep telling us that customers (and the all-important search engines) pay more attention to quality content than “me-too” jargon stuffed with key words.

But I also keep seeing cheap “content mills” On the other hand, I keep hearing about content mills that, as one ex-IT journalist complained the other day, “pay freelancers peanuts and expect instant turnaround.”

Is content marketing a brave new world of quality journalism funded by vendors, or a flood of low-cost and low quality spam? Former Financial Times journalist Tom Foremski, reporting on a recent Innovation Summit panel of former journalists who now doing (committing?) content marketing, was pretty scathing.

Evil Empire?

Foremski argued that “most Content Marketing fails because it is trying to produce Editorial Content but the leadership (for the efforts) is in PR or in Marketing.” This results, he argues, in content that reads more like marketing or PR than editorial content, with its implied fairness, completeness and relevance. Content marketing, he says, “needs to be editorially led to be successful.” But how far will, or should, a vendor go in reporting “just the facts” if those facts reflect badly on their product or service, or don’t reinforce their messaging?

He went even further to say “Content Marketing is failing us and causing a lot of damage to society and to the Brands that bankroll this practice” when it “pretends to be legitimate third-party editorial content.”

This may very well be true when it comes to “mainstream” topics such as government, the economy and the environment. Here, readers should demand fully independent, unbiased and in-depth reporting and be willing to pay for it.

I’d argue it’s a somewhat different story in highly technical areas such as cloud computing or storage, where mainstream media lacks the skills or the audience to go deep on “how to,” “trend” or “product comparison” stories. With the trade pubs that used to provide such content hollowed out by the Internet, I think IT decision makers know they must rely on vendors to do a “fair enough” job of educating them. If vendors do a good job, there are a lot of ways to do everything from thought leadership to “best practices” without being blatantly promotional.

And Too Expensive?

Foremski’s also complains that “Creating lots of high quality content is terrifically hard and tremendously expensive — especially the way PR and Brands do it, with dozens of stakeholders involved at every stage…” As it takes time to build a brand, he says, the costs mount to unacceptable levels.

Amen on the need to streamline the production process. But even so, quality content will still cost you, even just in the time it takes your subject matter experts to conceive, write and polish quality content.

Here’s where I can report hope, courtesy of a recent conversation with an editor at a lead generation site sponsored by a major global tech firm. About a year ago, this firm began hiring  former journalists and tasked them with using traditional journalistic techniques (and talent) to create detailed, actionable content about how to effectively buy and use IT products and services.

I recently spoke with one recent (2006) media startup that is thriving through sponsorships, advertising and events driven by quality content from ex-IT journalists that are paid living wages. Another vendor-sponsored site is, after a slow start, delivering quality leads at a lower cost than previous lead-gen efforts. What is interesting is that, as the site gained credibility and the vendor invested in more content, even older stories (if they gave readers useable information) began drawing more and more hits.

It seems too good to be true – content that appreciates in value over time. Good for the reader, good for the vendor, and, yes, good for us ex-journalists who create the content.

Would Junk Work Just As Well?

But is this quality content worth it only for big-ticket, complex products and services like those in IT? Is low-cost, keyword-stuffed content good enough for commodity products or for business to consumer sales? Is content marketing just another step on the slippery slope to a society where we can’t trust who tells us anything, anywhere, anytime?

The answer(s) are “yes,” “no” and “it depends.” Trying to drive hits to a celebrity Twitter feed to sell products? Superficial retweets full of trending terms may do the trick. Selling system architects on a new approach to managing cloud services without violating patient privacy regulations? You probably need to spend enough to make sure you’re saying something new, useful and insightful, and saying it clearly.

And while I doubt any vendor will sponsor a Pulitzer Prize winning expose of, say, telecom security practices, you never know. Who thought 15 years ago that a one-time Web-based bookstore (Amazon) would be funding Emmy–winning TV shows?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Stop the Video Madness!

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when to use video If I have to sit through another vendor video full of bouncy music, cute special effects and a happy-talk narrator when I’m trying to learn something I’m going to scream.

And I’m not (just) speaking selfishly as someone that still gets most of their assignments producing old-fashioned word documents rather than video. I’m speaking as an information consumer that, just like one of your prospects, needs to quickly learn about new technology, rather than be “entertained.”

Almost everyone uses video in B2B sales these days. But here are six ways it gets in the way of educating these busy customers and steers them to your competitors.

  1. They have to wait for the video to load and buffer.
  2. They have to sit through the afore-mentioned theme song, graphics, cute jokes or happy talk before they hear anything worthwhile.
  3. Once the voice-over starts they need to toggle between the video and their word processor to take notes. (No way to easily cut and paste information as they can with text.)
  4. If the customer misses an important point, or the speaker mumbles or speaks too quickly, they have to rewind the video to listen again. This usually takes two or three tries to get to the right place in the video, forcing them to sit through the same video again and again.
  5. There’s no way to quickly scroll through the content to find what they need. With video, you force the customer to sit through the whole conversation before finding if their question was answered.
  6. The content is often presented out of sequence or full of vague jargon such as “solution,” “optimize,” “transform” and “digital.” The reason: The vendor didn’t properly script the interview and prepare the presenter, meaning they had to choose from whatever good video they got. With text, there’s more opportunity to push for more detail and reorder the content to focus on the most important points.

When Video Works

Having gotten that off my chest, here is where video is as good as, or even better than plain old text.

  1. When you have emotionally or visually engaging images to help tell your story. Think of showing patients helped by your Big Data diagnostic software, the factory equipment that stays running thanks to your Internet of Things sensors, or customers responding to real-time offers from your marketing software on their smartphones.
  2. When a moving image helps explain the process improvements you delivered or the unique benefits of your technology. Think of before and after flow charts showing agile application development, how Big Data analysis finds security breaches and how your advanced algorithms improve route planning.
  3. And when you have that rare articulate, passionate speaker whose presentation and presence adds to, rather than harms, your ability to tell a good story.

Being an old fuddy-duddy, I’m probably missed other areas where video trumps the written word. But for someone (like a customer) that needs to find very specific information very quickly, I beg you to at least offer them a transcript of the video so they can scan it quickly rather than sit through your entire spiel.

Anyone else out there agree that video can be incredibly annoying, or do I need to lighten up and enjoy the show?

 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Tailoring Content to the IT Buying Cycle

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content marketing for IT vendorsIt’s no surprise that the IT sales cycle is getting longer and more complex, with more and more players involved all the time. The move to “digital” means not only IT, but sales, marketing, operations and finance is and should be involved in everything from setting requirements to agreeing on budgets.

But specifically what content do each of these players need, at what stage in the sales cycle, and for what type of IT product?

To the rescue comes business networking site LinkedIn, with a survey of how 8,600 professionals in 11 countries purchase four types of products: Hardware for end users, software for end users, hardware for the data center and software for the data center. While it’s a long (76 pages) read, (and covers only products, not services) its well worth the time if you’re looking to fine-tune content in these four categories.

Until you download the report, some highlights.

The Problem

The report found that IT sales are getting more competitive, with less than one in five large companies even willing to consider a new vendor. That makes it even more important, if you’re trying to crack a new account, to engage everyone involved in the purchase with engaging, relevant content.

Across all four product categories, the critical “vendor selection” stage typically involves four or more people, with any individual often engaged in more than one stage at any time. For every product type, the three stages that involve the most players are 1) the up-front needs assessment, 2) determining specifications and budget, and 3) implementation.

Although many vendors don’t consider this last, post-sales period part of the sales process, it’s actually critical, according to LinkedIn. That’s when, the report says, those who chose their product “…are very exposed and vulnerable…and need to know that the vendor” is there to help them prove to their bosses that they made the right product choice. Successful customers are more likely to stick with you for upgrades, and to recommend you to their peers – word-of-mouth that is often the most effective form of advertising in this social media age.

Some Suggestions

With my analysis in italics:

  • When talking to the finance types who influence the sale, “Be up front about the costs of implementation, not only financially, but also in disruption of productivity or operational downtime.” I think such honesty is a compelling draw for customers. But good luck getting your product managers to fess up to this, or your other customers to share such painful data.
  • Customers researching end-user software prefer Webinars over white papers. Makes sense as it lets the customer see the software, not just read about it. Webinars also makes it easier to get user feedback.
  • In the implementation stage, customers “…are the hungriest for rich content and information (but) are rather quiet” about asking for it. “Make it easy for them to self-educate and learn on their own. Maybe we should ask our technical writing peers for help with implementation guides, FAQs, best practices and ROI calculators to offer customers after, as well as before, the sale.
  • Data center hardware buyers are very closed to new vendors, and “prefer in-depth articles and engineering terminology over events, conferences or social media…” Ramp up the geek speak, but team your CTO or engineers with professional writers so their insights can also be shared with less technical folks on the evaluation committee.
  • Buyers of data center software find events and conferences more valuable as they move from determining the need to defining specifications and budgets. In-person schmoozing is where you get the real dirt about what works and what deals you can get from vendors. Rather than fight this, maybe facilitate it with your own networking events for customers?

Brave New Whirl

This is all a far cry from the relatively simple days (if they ever existed) of finding “the IT decision maker” and hammering them into submission over lunch or golf. It also makes for quite an uphill struggle, when so many companies struggle to produce enough content to support simpler sales cycles.

What’s your take on whether the buying cycle is indeed this complex, and on LinkedIn’s recommendations for navigating it?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
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