Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Marketing to technical managers

Marketing in the high-tech sector consists mainly of B2B (business-to-business)
A technology company that has a hot product or IT service needs to reach out to the relevant managers at the potential customer’s end.

The sales cycle starts with contacting a product management or R& D manager and to convince him/her of the benefits of the company’s product or service.
In most cases, these managers have an engineering background.

The first step is (of course) market research and getting the names and current job position of the managers.
Ideally, the company should have an idea of their interests and (technical) background as well.
The geographical area is important as well.
As the CMP Electronics Group published in a recent research, engineers in India are passionate about gathering information from nearly every media, especially in podcasts and video.
Their Japanese counterparts on the other hand, still rely on print and vendor websites, attending trade shows and having face-to-face events.

The next step is to find the best way to reach them.
Despite the decline in tradeshow attendance (although is seems to be picking up lately), companies still send their IT managers to scout for new products and technologies, to identify new trends and (of course) to check out the competition.
Arranging meetings and giving presentations at tradeshows and conferences is still effective and worth the time and money.

Webinars are gaining influence as well since they are convenient and cost effective.
As a PR tool for a company, webinars are tricky.
The webinar must have the form of a technical lecture (university level) to satisfy IT managers, but must be more general for marketing and sales managers, who don’t like tech talk.
The best option is to create separate ones and not to try and combine it in “one-webinar-fits all”.

What media should be used to reach out and communicate with IT managers and the like?
To communicate with IT managers, it is important to create a media mix of printed and online media.
The main sources used for learning about new technologies, trends and products are still industry publications (such as trade magazines) and vendors and manufacturers websites as well as blogs and online newsgroups.
Only a small minority uses the latest media such as RSS feeds and podcasts.

The form is important.
Engineers are first and foremost looking for downloadable data sheets, white papers, application notes, and product specifications.
When scouting for new product, price and product information is important.
They like to check out the source (manufacturer) and are less interested in the information supplied by the local distributor.
For further explanations, they do like to communicate with the local representative in their own language.
Don’t assume that all engineers have an impeccable grasp of English.
Some technical or industry terms are used differently throughout the world.
Needless to say, the representative must have an in-depth knowledge of the manufacturer’s products and technology.

As a marketing professional, never underestimate that no matter what, engineers are engineers are engineers, no matter their age, sex, nationality or media preferences.

No comments: