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IT marketing and the gobstopper: creating content that reaches the core of the business

I love giant gobstoppers! Brilliant sweets several layers of sweet coloured awesomeness. This piece of traditional confectionary is not just a quick chew or bland candy stick. This is an epic sweet, a sweet that takes dedication, time and yields a sense of satisfaction and victory when you finally get to that aniseed ball at the center.

So what does a gobstopper have to do with marketing IT solutions and products?

Rollback to the turn of the century as we exited the '90s and stepped into era of Cloud, Mobility and a technology savvy business world. It’s not to say the business world wasn’t tech savvy before, quite the opposite. We have grown accustomed to the IT guru in the office: that person who knows what USB means.

The last decade though has seen technology become an everyday thing. Now managers and board directors understand that technology can achieve great things. The decision makers know they have technology available to them to solve a whole host of business challenges.

Yes, that's right - the decision makers! Not the IT guru, but rather a non-tech person is making decisions about technology. A Sales Manager now wants BYOD and Cloud capabilities in his sales team so they can connect more, share more and achieve more, all by utilising technology. So we need to be able to hold conversations with this new crowd, the new IT crowd.

It doesn’t stop there though: finance has taken a massive role in the technology decisions in business. Technology is no longer seen as an expense but a revenue opportunity or way to control costs better.

So when you really look at how a decision is made around new IT purchases in a company you can see that there are multiple contacts or layers to work through. Just like my favorite sweet.

The challenge for those of us in marketing is how we engage with a new and wider audience. The CFO or Sales Director doesn’t want to come along to our lovely events and they don’t understand whitepapers that talk about routing, switching and the ever-changing Cloud!

So how and where do these critical contacts find information to instigate a change that will ultimately be given to IT to source and manage? Email, forums, events, direct mail?

A recent report by SiriusDecisions shows that these contacts are going to their people in-house, searching online, calling peers or visiting vendor websites directly.

The questions to ask yourself are: do you have content that they will understand on your site? Have you suitably engaged and ‘wowed’ end-users and managers enough for them to talk positively about you? Does your marketing have the right approach to influence those who are now making the decision?

By understanding the new buying personas, what they are driven by, and where they source information from, you can build a plan that really does generate results that sales will love.

So IT marketing is changing and changing for the better. By utilising a good mix of content types, channels of communication and making every layer of this 'decision gobstopper' interesting and relevant to the process we can help influence our audiences in the right way.

There are many pioneers out there in marketing starting to talk to a wider audience and the stakeholders in the process. Guess what these guys are winning business as they recognise the days of one person making the buying decision are gone. You need the financial backing and the operational support just to get the decision to make a change from the people that control that part of the business. 

That is the IT gobstapper: it takes time to get to the middle, but the results are real long-lasting relationships based on knowledge, trust and a great experience every step of the way. 

Liam Pickard is the Head of Marketing at DTE, a trusted provider of IT infrastructure and services to midsize and large enterprises operating in Milton Keynes, UK.