What if you could be a fly on the wall and watch as an IT buyer checked out your marketing?

Would you like how they react?

I attended Spiceworks Unplugged in Toronto, where a room of IT marketers heard the truth from a panel of straight-talking IT professionals. The IT pros represented a variety of industries – from software to education. And some of the things they said were surprising.

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

What is your biggest IT challenge?

Their top challenges included trying to do as much as possible with limited time, staff and resources. Another big challenge was modernizing dated IT infrastructure.

What do you expect from technology marketers?

IT professionals can spot BS a mile away. If you want to engage them, cut the marketing fluff and get real about your product. You should also explain your product from a technical standpoint, as IT pros want to know how to use and maintain your technology. It’s key to explain how your product will integrate with their existing systems.

What buzzwords should you avoid?

The most-hated list includes:

“Failproof”, as users will always find something that fails.

“ROI”. The only way an IT pro can prove your product’s ROI is by deploying it and seeing that it works. They think that ROI calculators are “noise”.

“Cloud”.  IT pros have a joke – “Don’t put it in the cloud. What happens when it rains?” They feel that marketers apply this word to everything. What does the “cloud” really mean when it comes to your product? How will your “cloud” make their lives better?

How long should a demo be?

Many 14-day demos aren’t long enough to evaluate a technology. One IT pro said, “You’re lucky if I finish reading your white paper in 14 days.”

What types of content do you look at when you’re evaluating a product?

The IT pros use white papers to learn about new technologies. Some of the panelists will save the white papers to their iPads and read them at home.

They also like webinars. However, the Spiceworks panelists dislike “live” demos where a salesperson runs the technology in a canned environment. They would prefer to see the technology in action in a real environment. If something goes wrong, they want to see how quickly your rep can resolve the problem.  

One of the IT pros said that he watches videos after he creates a shortlist.

Another one of the IT pros skips the marketing content and goes straight to user manuals. If he knows what he’s looking for in a product, the user manual will provide him with specs. 

What types of content do you hate?

Gated content.

The Spiceworks’ panelists dislike filling out forms just to learn about a product. Some of them have “special” email addresses just for these forms.

They feel like the gate is a “fish hook” to get them on the phone with a sales rep. One of the panelists said that he won’t answer his phone after completing a marketing form, as he’d rather avoid all his calls than speak with a sales rep. 

The IT pros would prefer it if you provided all your content in one place and gave them the power to decide if and when they want to speak with a sales rep.

They also suggested including a checkbox in your form that asks whether they want to be contacted. Yes, sometimes they’re waiting for your call.

Do you ever read purely educational content, such as blog posts?

IT pros love learning, so they enjoy reading educational blog posts. However, they may not share your posts with their social networks, as their corporate IT policies often prevent them from visiting social media sites.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

1. Download the slide presentation to refer to these insights later.

2. Read 10 Steps to an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy to learn how to get the best results from your content marketing.

3. Click to share this article on LinkedIn. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.