bad_habits_5What if you could listen to a panel of IT buyers tell you exactly what they think about your marketing?

I recently attended Spiceworks Unplugged, where a room of IT marketers had the opportunity to do just that. The panellists represented a variety of organizations – from a government agency to a family-owned business. And some of what the panellists said was surprising.

Here are some of the questions that the IT marketers asked, along with how the panellists responded:

What types of marketing content do you want?

The panellists agreed that they want unbiased reviews from customers who have used your product. Ideally, these reviews should be uploaded to communities such as Spiceworks. They believe that any information on a vendor’s website – including case studies and testimonials – can be filtered and may not represent the full picture.

Do you care about white papers?

The panel was not excited about white papers, but some panellists would read them if they couldn’t find the same information elsewhere. However, if they do download a white paper, they don’t want a sales representative to call them 10 minutes later, as this doesn’t give them enough time to read the content.

Would you opt in for a white paper or other type of marketing content?

The panellists agreed that they don’t like to opt in for product trials, as they want to see if the product will work for them before they give out their contact information.

One panellist said he would opt in for a webinar but not for much else. He prefers webinars, because they are more interactive and contain audio and images.

How can an IT company communicate its value to you?

The panellists said that IT vendors should give their products to customers or others who will provide unbiased reviews. They also believe that service is key, and that IT companies can communicate their value by responding quickly to requests.

What is more important to you – product, price or service?

Service was the top priority for all of the IT buyers. The panellists said they would look elsewhere if an IT vendor wasn’t providing them with good service.

What are the top three websites that you visit during work?

SpiceWorks was the top response, followed by Google. TechRepublic, CNET and LinkedIn were also mentioned.

Do you use SlideShare?

The panellists were not familiar with SlideShare.

Would you click a Google or LinkedIn ad?

None of the panellists click Google ads, as most of the paid ad results are not relevant to them. They prefer to check out the organic search results. The panellists would be open to clicking ads on SpiceWorks, as these ads are relevant and they trust the vendors more than someone advertising on Google. One panellist said that “SpiceWorks is a relationship, while Google is cold.”

None of the panellists look at Facebook or Twitter ads. However, some of them will follow vendors on Twitter.

Would you look at a direct mail piece?

One of the panellists said that direct mail ads do not make it to his desk. However, some of the other panellists stated that they like direct mail if it includes swag. They agreed that a simple flyer or postcard would most likely get tossed.

For me, a key takeaway from this panel is that IT marketers need to get more involved with communities where they can build relationships with potential customers and earn their trust (although swag doesn’t hurt).

What about you? What do you think about these responses? Feel free to share your comments below.

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