Signing on for my first TMC Leader post as an official Technology Marketing Center contributor, this is Amanda Vande Brake. First, a big “Thank You!” and happy 2013 to TMC! I’m thrilled and, frankly, a bit intimidated to be passed the mic for a bit every quarter, and I hope to connect with you all via your comments, corrections and support along the way.
My stake in all things TMC centers around enhancing this powerful community’s ability to influence and drive change in marketing technology products by employing proven and emerging digital marketing tactics to break through to the C-suite buyer today. In short, the C people need the right message, at the right time, the right way to make the right decisions, and it’s up to us to figure that magical mix out and then recalibrate continually.
With the proper framework - or structure - channeling the proper information or data, communication in any form can be managed, measured and delivered to any audience, even to the shadowy C-levels whose mystifying communication preferences may well be more mirrors than smoke, reflecting technology marketers’ own complex yet potentially unexplored communication needs.
Before defining a few steps forward toward refocusing your attention in C-level technolgoy marketing in the direction of structure and data, let’s step back for a quick moment of affirmation.
Say it with me, now:
“It’s okay for messages to be complex.”
“It’s okay that not everyone understands what I’m marketing.”
“It’s okay to generate questions instead of answers.”
Now, hold onto those thoughts for the next 10 minutes as we explore three key considerations to also hold close when rethinking your 2013 C-suite marketing tactics.
#1: You Are Not Your Target Market.
Not only does this fact serve your messaging strategies well by keeping you focused on listening to and understanding your audience’s needs before you message to them, it is also a critical position to take when reaching out to those in section C. The truth is that technology and media innovations are altering decision-making behaviors and needs faster than ever before, making a continual flow of feedback and performance data the most valuable asset in the marketer’s toolbox today, not to mention how properly listening to your audience is the key to obtaining this rich intel.
Channeling this information directly into a value proposition for your C-level buyer focuses the message on performance and projected outcome rather than preferences and an overt sales pitch – something this audience isn’t provided at the beginning or middle of the B2B sales funnel nearly enough of the time likely because defining a custom value prop is generally a complex task. But, with the proper structure in place, data can be paired with the proper selling points to drive the marketing message home and strategically drive the sale.
#2: Engagement Is a Requirement.
Before a potential buyer receives a marketing message, they have likely already consumed content intent on educating them on a need, a solution or both, as detailed in Anderson’s pre-holiday TMC post [link to: http://technologymarketing.typepad.com/tmcleadersblog/2012/12/tectonic-shifts-in-marketing-products.html]. And, as also illuminates, content and influencers are recurring characters in the mix. The real magic happens, then, when all components – content, influencers and a marketing message push – are triggered by direct target market engagement via the user opting in to receive communication that serves their needs while achieving the organizations’.
#3: You Need Friends to Make Friends.
The real clincher in the journey to incorporate structure and data within your C-level marketing communications efforts is that it requires a scalable technology backbone in a broad way (web- or enterprise system-based) and / or in a more specific way (via licensed, white label or custom databases and applications) to produce results. And somehow you need to project results to justify the big investment in enabling structure to leverage all that valuable data.
Well, fortunately, technology is on your side! Departments can share the costs and enjoy the benefits enterprise systems – and structure – produce. So, make it your priority to understand other departmental goals and objectives and incorporate them into your pitch to the top, showing organization-wide value for the structure your communications require.
The infrastructure you build to leverage data should deliver compelling, relevant marketing messages serves not only your direct b2b marketing purposes but also your sales team’s and ultimately your entire organization’s. And, the capabilities inherent in digitally driven communications enable you to measure, optimize and extend all the benefits while continually testing innovations and swiftly resolving deficiencies.
Data-rich, self-serve custom messages are the heart and soul of effective selling to the C suite. And complex high tech value proposition require an equally complex technology-driven approach to crack the C-communications code.
So, start your 2013 by looking beyond the end of your nose, listening before you talk and making more friends. Your prospective customer will thank you with their attention and have a stronger propensity to incorporate your product within their purchase intentions!