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CIOs have no TIME for you

by Lilia Shirman on January 28, 2014

in Customer relationships,Uncategorized

Many tech companies see relationships with CIOs as the Holy Grail of their sales and marketing efforts.  But should you really spend the money and effort it takes for effective CIO engagement?

Chasing Money

Pro’s :

  • CIO’s have the power to approve or veto technology purchases, so relationships with them can be critical to getting their all-important nod towards your product.
  • CIO’s plan and allocate IT budgets, so convincing them to reserve spend for your category can eliminate roadblocks late in the sales cycle
  • CIO’s make technology strategy decisions, so vendors who are leading the charge in some new technology direction need to convince this key audience that the new approach will benefit their business
  • CIO’s have a C in their title, which makes them great sources of endorsement quotes

Cons:

  • CIOs don’t actually get involved in every technology purchase.  The best CIO’s empower their teams to make as many decisions as possible.
  • CIOs don’t personally evaluate products. Their focus is on technology strategy and what direction to take that to support business objectives.
  • CIO’s only pay attention to things that are immediately relevant. Creating personalized and relevant content gets expensive.
  • CIO relationships are about the long term, not an individual sale. Nurturing those relationships will be time consuming.
  • CIO’s don’t have TIME.  That makes reaching them difficult, expensive, and time consuming.

Still want to get CIO’s to pay attention to you?  Here are a few hints:

  • Don’t sell to them
  • Don’t market to them
  • Give CIO’s insights, or at least information, that help them stay abreast of how to leverage technology to meet business goals
  • Make it relevant to their industry, company, and technology stack (That means do your research).
  • Keep it SHORT – Anything targeted at CIOs (or any other exec for that matter) should be scannable in 30 seconds or less.
  • Keep it SHORT #2 – Always include an executive summary – the 10-page white paper will at best be forwarded to a staff member.
  • Don’t do all the talking yourself.  Find and curate content from other CIOs and 3rd party subject matter experts

Bottom line: The less time your audience has, the more time you have to invest in keeping them engaged.

Have other pros and cons of engaging CIO’s or tips for  getting their attention? Do share.

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This article is by Guest Blogger Charlie Born, on of The Shirman Group’s extended network of business experts.

In their quest to solve business problems, buyers are turning to the internet and social media for information. This customer-driven Buyers’ Journey gives marketers a new channel to create valuable information that is discoverable, consumable, shareable and valuable.

Unfortunately, many marketers fall into the trap of creating content flooded with buzzwords, jargon, and marketing pitches. These cause buyer resistance and make you indistinguishable from competitors.

Buyers reward well-researched and believable information packaged into quickly digestible and easy-to-absorb info-graphics, white papers, info-training materials, webinars and blogs. Here are a few pointers for avoiding the buzzword bingo trap when creating your marketing content.

1. Don’t lead with your solution, your product or what you do. Instead start with a narrative about the business problem you are solving. Have a vision. Then lead your reader to your solution. Show how your approach is different before you go on to prove how it is better.

2. To craft the story, listen to your customers. Find out how your customers describe what you do. What words and phrases resonate with them—and which ones do not? See my previous post for how to interview customers about their buyers’ journey to get this information.

3. Listen to how your top sales performers tell your story. This will give you added perspective—particularly from those with strong solution-selling techniques.

4. When you write, ‘speak’ with a natural voice. Use the words you would use if you were speaking to someone you knew. Use short phrases and sentences. Most times, less is more. It just takes extra work to edit things down.

5. Strive to say something relevant, memorable, and different from what your competitors are saying. Just keep it real and not overblown. Be careful not to over-claim. Puffed up claims put most readers off rather than draw them in and can end up being a legal challenge later if problems arise. Make your reader want to learn more – and show them how they can by having additional content for them to pursue elsewhere on your website or blog.

Released last year and written by lexophile Arthur Plotnik, “Better than Great” is a book I have found useful in fixing buzzword bingo. It reads like a funky thesaurus and includes an assortment of over 6000 words and suggestions for describing things—pulling from rare gems, vintage gold, and even phrases influenced by hip hop to present a wide range of fresh superlatives. It is both amusing and vocabulary expanding.

Share with us successful ways on how you are telling your company’s story in a way that genuinely informs buyers, stands out from the crowd and avoids buzzword bingo.

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We just sent out a summary to the participants of this year’s Industry Specialization by B2B Vendors Benchmark Study.   We had a record 120 B2B companies take part in this year’s study.

Companies see that greater customer focus, in the form of industry-specialized sales, marketing, services, and products will enable them to access more senior decision makers and increase deal sizes.  Many are also responding to competitive pressures. The good news is that the investment is paying off.

The full report is due out next month, but meanwhile, a sneak peak at a few tidbits:

  • 67% of B2B companies that already have some amount of industry specialization said they plan to further increase their focus on key vertical markets.
  • It takes two to three years to begin to realize the full benefits of specialization.
  • After 2 years, 70% of companies reported notable or significant impact on revenue from their investments in industry-specialized activity
  • Industry alliances have a big impact on brand awareness
  • Industry-specific case studies and quantitative ROI analysis were reported to be the most valuable industry-specific marketing tactics.  Sales and marketing brochures were least effective.
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Social networking channels are not the only way to make your marketing efforts more interactive.   While you experiment with social media, you can make traditional marketing methods conversational too.

Getting customers to contribute to the substance in your marketing content, events, products will raise the value and trust customers place in them.   Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, demonstrates that  “labor enhances affection for its results.”

This week I’ll be posting a series of ideas on adding interaction and soliciting active customer engagement and contribution through traditional marketing tools.   Here are a few to start off.

  1. Value proposition and messaging – Starting with the obvious here: when crafting your claims of benefits, value, and ROI, ask your customers what benefits they’ve actually received.    Use these results to create your messages about benefits and value.  Then go back and ask customers if they “buy” the story you tell about how your product leads to business results. You’ll have messages that really resonate, and your will have created references that back up your story because they ARE the story.
  2. Collateral and White papers – Create a Wiki instead of static product data sheets, brochures, and white papers.  Provide a framework and some base content,  then give customers the ability to contribute.  You can moderate to ensure accuracy, of course.  With customers contributing,  you’ll have more complete, relevant, and trustworthy information.

Have you tried these or other ways to engage customers in conversations? Share them in your comment!

Read More
Turn Marketing into Conversations – Part 2
Turn Marketing into Conversations – Part 3

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