B2B Tech Marketing Strategies

Match your prospect's needs -
At each stage of buying cycle

Why sell? - Find your buyers!

Selling Product Features and Benefits

After nearly 20 years in technology marketing, I am amazed at how many business to business marketers still focus on selling product features and functionality versus matching their buyer's wants and desires.

Make no mistake; in high tech hardware and software sales, pure play product marketing is absolutely a hard and fast requirement.  However, it must be sequenced much later in a prospect's evaluation of a vendor.  Marketing "feeds and speeds" too soon creates an awkward situation for sales execs, marketers and your potential buyer. Your team sells and force fits what ultimately appears to your prospect as an arcane set of features.  Similarly, presenting the ROI for a product before a prospect is properly educated wastes time and budget.

The challenge for today's marketer is gaining precise knowledge of how prospective buyers' "evaluation chains" are sequenced and from that, building the corresponding "offer chains."
Many marketing strategies assume a build of materials that is too broad and rote: datasheets, whitepapers, web copy, SEO, PR/AR, sales training and field marketing focused on the product.  That's not surprising given that engineering and product management teams are typically organized by product.  The reality is that today's technology buyers have discrete marketing needs that vary by role/title, industry, geography, digital channel and temporally, what stage of the "evaluation chain" they occupy.

Software technology provides CMOs with the ability to execute marketing strategies with greater precision than ever by using tools such as salesforce.com, elloqua, Demandbase and others.  While the technical capability to build precise offer chains is here, very few CMO's are able to deliver on that promise.

The Content Horse

Building software systems that fine tune messaging to industry, title, geo and buying stage is by no means trivial.  Unfortunately, many tech companies put the "technology cart" before the "content horse".  The allure of an automated system that dynamically matches the messaging to prospect profiles is CMO nirvana but it can also de-focus organizational resources. 

In real-world practice, the most important (and perhaps frequent) marketing occurs at the field level where MAE's make near-daily contact with prospects via phone, email, chat, and even social networking.  Seasoned sales leaders know who their prospects are.  Using Hoover's, D&B and similar tools they can quicky identify their targets by geographic patch and/or industry.   What they lack is the compelling content for the varying titles, industries and buying stages that they manage.   Instead, they are given a one-size fits all approach to marketing and messaging.  Given the savvy of today's buyers, that creates a real content gap that stalls sales cycles.

Eating the Elephant

Envisioning the ensuing matrices of content needed to close this gap intimidates marketing teams.  The time and money to tailor content for the many cells in the matrix means many marketers fall back on more traditional marketing plans and supporting collateral.  Its not surprising as the notion of tuning content to digital channels, industries, titles or buying stages can seem overwhelming. But as the Indian phrase goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Which is to say that it is absolutely key to have a strategy that is staged with discrete steps.

Strategic Content Creation

Targeted content accelerates sales cycles but few marketing teams think about their content strategically.  In an age when technology buyers rely so heavily on digital channels, its amazing that content creation is not managed in a more strategic fashion.  Organizational divisions between web teams, marketing programs and product marketing further impedes content strategies.

Through precise market segmentation and ensuing analysis of segment buying power and propensity, CMOs can develop a strategic content strategy that develops in step with the resources that are available.  Using this approach marketers can target market segments in a sequenced fashion, using all digital and physical channels available to them.  By identifying the messaging needs for an "anchor tenant" in a segment and enabling sales with tools to succeed, companies can meet and exceed revenue targets.

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