Education Trumps Promotion in IT Buyer Marketing

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customer experience, Education First, Promotion Last in IT Buyer Marketing

Courting experienced B2B IT buyers through marketing campaigns?

Don't promote yourself. Well, at least not right off the bat. Offer prospective buyers something educational — and that could be your ticket to actual product promotion.

"Educational works best," said Jonathan Handler, principal of Jonathan Handler and Associates and a specialist in healthcare information technology sales who has experience as an IT buyer. "Especially for experienced B2B buyers. They simply expect educational content."

CMSWire talked with Handler about IT buyer habits after IDG Connect released its report, "Connecting Conversations to Content." This is the third part of a three-part series examining ways to connect IT buyers with the right marketing messages. Wednesday, Erin Bolton told us it's important to use social media, and yesterday, Geraldine Gray stressed the need to show, and don't tell, buyers what makes products great. 

Social Media: All-Out Effort?

Should IT buyer marketers dive into social media to court IT buyers?

"Today, some social media presence is needed," Handler said, "but the amount depends upon the type of product and services that it sells: B2C, BYOD or B2B. Most of my experience is buying for or selling to B2B enterprises, especially healthcare IT."

And for Handler, which platform varies as well. "The factors that make each social media channel important are different," he said. "Facebook is important because of consumers and hence for B2C, BYOD. LinkedIn is important for people in B2B businesses, especially larger B2B businesses. Google+ seems to be important to two groups: people who standardize on Google tools beyond search and people who want a presence on all three networks."

Handler generally feels, though, that B2B still trails B2C in terms of social media marketing.

Further, Marketers should note that since Facebook's leadership in the B2C and BYOD segments depends upon its reputation and buzz in the consumer market, the "cool kids" may start to abandon it. If that's the case, so will the B2C and BYOD marketers, Handler said.

Learning Opportunities

"I only mention this because, supposedly, Facebook's membership growth is slowing," he said.

One Fine Example

In terms of educational versus promotional, Handler is a believer in the former. But in a clever way, educational content can effectively support promotional marketing.

He recalled an evening meeting with a presentation by a consultant for one of the Big 6 accounting/tax/consulting firms. Throughout the presentation, there was no promotion for the consultant's company.

However, when he unveiled the last PowerPoint slide, there was a picture of an old style (1940s or 1950s) two-prong electrical plug.

"Almost instantly, several people started to laugh until everyone got the joke," Handler said. "The speaker waited, and said, 'Now for the plug.' He gave a five- or 10-minute plug for the company and the practice whose experience he had just presented."

Title image by Elisa Locci (Shutterstock).