marketing to it professionals

I don’t usually post more than once every few months (which is really sad) but I just had to post a reaction to a recent Wired Magazine article regarding “IT guys” and stating that they are “ignorant.”  I would never go as far to state that they are ignorant, because they’re not.  The problem lies in their training.  In a report from CompTIA, a non-profit IT trade association, respondents state that there is a tremendous skill gap from where information technology (IT) staff members should be and where they are currently.  Respondents stated the primary reasons behind this gap are:

  • Rapidly changing technology
  • Lack of resources for IT skill development
  • Ineffective training for IT staff
  • Lack of formal training processes

IT staff members can’t keep up with changing technology because it does change so rapidly AND those that are experts…are teaching IT or leading IT, not working in the field.  We’ve had a number of internal discussions about this topic because we have current and past clients who market to the IT industry.

Marketing to IT staff can be difficult, simply because you don’t know what their skill level is…and 9 times out of 10, your assumption is wrong.  Narrowing down marketing channels and efforts to find the right IT staff member (CIO, IT Manager, IT staffer) to reach is very, very difficult as they all make recommendations to management in some way, and dependent on the organization’s size, the IT staffer, not the CIO, may be the decision maker.

So, the big question is “If our target markets are individuals who serve in an IT role, how do we reach all of them without disengaging with at least one of these segments?”  Well, luckily, we’ve been working with a few clients to do just that.

Here are 3 simple rules of engagement when Marketing to IT:

Prepare to explain.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve helped a number of IT related companies market themselves and they all have different strategies.  Some want to be knowledge leaders so they use really big words.  Others go the exact opposite direction and prepare their marketing efforts as if they were marketing IT to an 80 year old man who doesn’t own a computer.

There is a balance that marketers promoting to IT organizations must reach.  That balance lies in addressing an issue that’s known in a simple, understandable way.  Don’t write over your prospect’s head to make yourself seem smarter.  Learn to explain your organization’s services in a simple manner.  You can even write content so any user can understand it, but place in a little IT humor for those that will get it.

Market to the IT staffer on their ground…and target it.

I’m a marketing guy.  I read Wired and Mashable daily.  Don’t talk to me like I’m a 20 year IT veteran…because I’m not.  Some of the readers on Mashable and Wired maybe vets, but not all of them.

Be careful not to assume that you know your channel’s audience.  People searching for keywords related to HIPAA audits may be looking for help…but are they IT staffers? Compliance officers?  CIOs?  CEOs?  Are the users different on Google?  Bing?  Yahoo?  Each of those targets are unique and the content to reach them is just as unique.  Make sure to test your marketing efforts to see who they are.

Be in the know.

From our work in eCommerce, I know that PCI Compliance is a hot topic, and I know what changes occurred last year that affect most clients.  As a marketer promoting IT services, you should know that as well.  Always make sure that you know the language that IT people speak.  In that same way, you should know how to explain it to anyone, not just an IT person.

By developing your skills a marketing writer for IT organizations, you can make sure that you’re content speaks to both the IT professional and the CEO who knows they need help, just not sure what.

These are just a few of the things to consider when marketing to IT professionals.  I’m sure there are more and I’ll write about those in the upcoming months.  Thanks again for reading our blog and feel free to ask questions below!

Also, if you didn’t get a chance to read it, here’s my other article from this week about affinity marketing.

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