A large amount of IT vendors are now really adopting social as part of their approach. The only trouble is the IT buyer has been in this “phase” for the last several years. Vendors just did not believe it. While the social revolution took place the buyer has moved into the personal not social world. Most companies will catch up around 2017 – 2020 ish. :)
As more and more tech buyers turn to social networks to share and research information on IT products and services it’s having a significant impact on the technology distribution models born out of the 1980’s and 90’s. The typical way tech brands reached IT buyers was to recruit distributors and VARS and then hope they could sell products to as many customers as possible. In fact, manufacturers had no direct marketing initiatives of their own in place, relying solely on partners for marketing and sales.
The channel is obviously still an important part of the go to market strategy for IT vendors. However, with the rising influence of social networks on the technology research and buying process the linear, command and control mentality is gone forever.
Without the ability to participate in social discussions about their products and services vendors are taking a big gamble thinking the ”channel” will simply do the selling for them.
A great example of this shift can be seen among 1.7 Million IT professionals in the Spiceworks social network. They constantly tell me, “We want to engage with the technology vendors on our terms and turf. We will happily purchase products, services and solutions from resellers but it’s nice to ask the vendor a direct question every now and then.
If you are a vendor or reseller looking for ways to ensure your properly engaging IT buyers in social networks to complement and support your existing channel sales , here are some simple steps you can take:
- Have a real, ongoing presence in the social networks where your customers and potential customers hang out and do their job.
- When engaging customers in social networks be authentic and helpful.
- Engage customers and potential buyers on their terms whether that’s providing a whitepaper or answer a question in a forum.
For the channel relationship to prosper in today’s shifting social media landscape, both technology vendors and their resellers have important roles to play. Both can participate in the customer – driven conversation, which will help ensure their meeting customer’s needs in the new social buying process.
Tags: B2B, b2b buyers, b2b magazine, buying models, channel marketing, content marketing, emarketing, engage, gonzo marketing, IT buyers, marketing automation, pr, reaching IT buyers, ROI, sales, sales 2.0, selling power, social business, social media marketing, social networks, tech buyers, technology, tuned in, word of mouth
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I overheard someone I work with making an analogy about the gym and social media effectiveness. So often we hear people struggling with how to manage the return of their social media efforts. Sometimes I struggle when an IT vendor says, “I can’t spend time or money on social media until I can get exact ROI.” (Hmmm, I wonder what is the ROI on the beautiful fountain outside the HQ that costs $150,000 a year to run.)
Oftentimes I believe that IT marketers think social media marketing is like a gumball machine where they see an immediate return. They set up and run a program on Facebook, LinkedIn or Spiceworks and then leave it alone. They are left wondering why they didn’t get a lot of followers or engagement. In their mind they got nothing back.
IT marketers seem to be so focused on the ROI of a one-time ad, web page or action, that they actually miss ( ironically) hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of opportunities because they don’t see that social media is “ongoing” engagement. They forget that you need to “go to” the buyers first, provide them value, and spend time with them before they may take action.
Here is a conversation between me and the fitness professionals at my local gym earlier this week:
Client: “Hey it’s Kenny Madden here. I joined your gym three months ago and I just weighed myself. I have in fact loss zero pounds since I signed my membership. I want to cancel my membership right now. Where the heck are my lost pounds? I am paying you guys $35 a month and I want my weight down or else. What are you going to do about it?”
Gym Rep: “ Sir, I understand that you are upset but let me check our records and I will see what we can do. Yes, I see you started your membership with us four months ago but you have not actually come into the gym yet.”
Client: “So what! What has that got to do with anything? I paid you some serious money and I want to lose those pounds. I was told every dollar of membership would help me lose five pounds a month. I am not sure what your trying to pull here but I don’t like what I am hearing!”
Gym Rep: “Sir I appreciate that you are busy and upset because of your lack of weight loss but I assure you, we see great results when our clients actually come into the gym, work out, use the pool, get to know folks in the gym and start working at building relationships within the confines of the gym. I have actually seen several members who come in once a week.”
Client: “This is ridiculous, I paid you the money so I wouldn’t have to do any of that stuff. I don’t have the time or resources for that. In fact I am thinking about hiring several other people to go and do my exercising for me instead of giving the money to you guys.”
Gym Rep: “Sir, I think you will find you have to actually come here you to lose weight, stay for the long term, set small incremental goals, make sure you are the right gym and you can develop a program that will achieve all your goals.”
Client: “Hmm I will get back to you.”
- Put some roots down and stay for the long term
- Understand who your buyers are and where they live, work and play
- Do so and not only will people follow you and respond to your campaigns, they will purchase your products – And that is the best ROI a brand can get.
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