So your company sells enterprise technology. Should you market to Line of Business?

Jon Brown

VP, Market Intelligence

Author’s Note:  You could skip this entire post and go directly to this white paper.  Or, you could read on and then access the whitepaper.  It’s good to have choices.  Be a decision-maker and make a choice now.

Should technology marketers really be “talking to the business?” When it comes to technology buying, “we want to talk to the business” is right up there with ” Keep Calm and…. (your snarky/commercial command tense slogan here)” as a current (and questionable) fashion trend.  The former, the trend for technology marketers tired of working hard to convince the actual potential buyers of their products (i.e. IT pros), the latter for people who wear t-shirts and are too young to remember ” Frankie Says” .

It seems like everywhere you turn these days, people are waxing philosophical about the downfall of IT or making bold predictions such as Gartner’s ever-popular view that CMOs will be spending more on technology than CIOs in 5 years. Is this the reality?

To answer these questions, and as a means of understanding some of the things our clients, technology marketers, tell us, I set out to explore the makeup of technology buying teams and the relative importance of the business decision maker to the technology purchase process.  Specifically, I wanted to understand the true role and importance of “the business” on technology purchase decisions.  I did extensive research, ran some surveys, interviewed a buying team and came to an understanding.  The results are as follows;

  • 5% of the corporate technology purchase decisions are made by a single person.  95% are made by teams.  Technology buying, therefore, is a team sport. However, the biggest “I” in team belongs to IT. The “i” in business is lower case…
  • The two factors that determine how much of your marketing mix should be directed towards line of business and how much should be directed towards the IT team depend on:
    • Who the ultimate day to day user of the technology will be
    • To what extent existing infrastructure and business processes will be impacted and/or integrated
  • It is possible to commit “marketing malpractice” :
    • The best (or worst) example of “in group cognitive bias” is running a full screen digital billboard in the middle of an airport bashing your competitors and doing the same on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.  Besides targeting nobody in particular and delivering a message that is irrelevant to 99.9% of passerby’s (those who are not involved in 6-8 figure capital hardware IT purchases, like you and me).  I now understand to what extent cognitive bias causes marketing mistakes.
    • Cognitive bias, in this case “in-group bias”,  causes “brand ego” marketers to overestimate the influence that people similar to themselves (LOB professionals) have on purchasing decisions.  During a recent business trip, I was unable to miss some of the most egregious examples of cognitive bias leading to marketing malpractice in memory while switching planes in a certain Midwest hub.  If you know what the placement I’m talking about is, ask yourself whether you are on the buying team for 7-figure hardware competitive purchases in your organization.
  • Buying teams are bigger than we think.  Depending on the scope of your solution, teams with upwards of 20 stakeholders are not uncommon.
  • There is really only one technology market besides consumer electronic devices/apps where line of business is very important to the overall decision making process.

Rather than to wax excessively in this blog, I’ve instead put together (with the help of colleagues Garrett Mann, Eileen Corrigan, and graphic designer Dave McGuire) what I hope is an informative white paper, “Don’t Miss the Mark with The Right Technology Buyer” , to help you get the straight story on who the real buyers or your technology are and how to avoid costly mistakes when targeting them.

Here’s to marketing smartly!

avoiding mistakes, B2B marketing, business buyers, business decision makers, Jon Brown, LOB, Marketing ROI, targeting, targeting IT buyers

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