The IT Buyer You Thought You Knew

March 17, 2016

Seventeen coworkers picked to work at a company and have their lives changed by purchasing and implementing a technology solution. You thought you knew them. Based on the IT Committee research we’ve done the last few years, we proved the IT Buying Committee exists, and it’s actively judging each of our technologies against each other.

Here’s a quick review of what we learned about the IT Committee:

  • There are 14+ million LinkedIn members who influence IT decisions representing a wide spectrum of departments and seniorities within their companies
  • 85% use social media for IT news and information

  • 80% require education when purchasing tech, and 63% are more likely to consider an IT vendor that educates them through each stage of the decision process

  • They want content in the following order: IT industry news, best practices/how-tos, product/solution information and assessment tools

  • The average IT Committee member needs to consume 5 pieces of content before they are ready to talk to a sales rep.

The biggest takeaways for marketers were:

  • Earn trust by focusing on educating, not selling, prospective customers in the short term to generate higher-quality leads in the long term with value-based content that goes beyond your brand’s self-interests

  • Incorporate an “always on” content strategy with a variety of content – both gated and un-gated

  • Social Proof is Real. Be sure to leverage your employees and subject-matter experts to evangelize and create an authentic voice

  • Help post-purchase! The Implementation & Usage phases are critical to securing a renewal or upgrade. Marketing must help clients be successful with your hardware or software

Tech Buying is More Complicated Than Ever

As a tech marketer, you are now living this day in and day out as you try to break through the content noise, target the right people and start fostering a relationship that supports your sales force and your business bottom line. Add the length of the B2B technology buying journey and how complex of a purchase technology really is, and things get really, truly challenging.

But what’s the root cause? Why is the shift happening? The reality is that today’s technology purchase is not about technology at its face value anymore. The technology decision is an integral business decision, an investment in a company’s productivity and success. The IT department is still critical overall, but technology is now an integral part of every department.

And that brings up a whole other level of pressure and complexity, including more people and, inevitably, more time to make the decision. An IT Director’s credibility on the line. More financial investment. Greater risk tied to failure. Countless business functions having a stake and an opinion. Tie that need to the swelling availability of content and the countless tools to produce it and channels to distribute it, and you’re looking at the need for today’s tech marketer to be savvier than ever.

So as a tech marketer, how exactly do you gain an edge? First, it starts with a deep understanding of your customer and their experience. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions' Tech Team just came out with some new research that digs even deeper into the tech customer’s journey for hardware for end users, software for end users, data center hardware and data center software.

The study explores a number of our industry’s burning questions, including:

  • Who exactly are these 17 tech decision makers and influencers? What are their business functions and titles?

  • How long does it take them to go through the stages of the buying process before purchase, during implementation AND as they consider a renewal/upgrade in the future?

  • What types of content and what content topics are they looking for and when?

  • What do they base their decision on? How does trust factor in?

  • What is the role of marketing and sales?

Today’s IT Committee: Engage or Be Left Behind

So check out our latest research and get ready to harness this new knowledge to be even more effective. Now is the critical time to really start looking at who our audience is and prioritize and commit to adding non-IT people to the mix. It’s time to get beyond the “IT Decision Maker” to the new influencers within the tech buying committee. So go out there and start expanding your targeting. Pick two new, non-IT audiences to understand, and then build strategy, content and engagement campaigns for them. Tailor your content to the timing and topics they’re looking for. And tell me how it goes in the comments! I’d love to hear what new questions arise for you and what challenges you’re having along the way.

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