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Embrace new technology to get your message out

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The people buying technology products are the same people embracing next-generation smartphones and Apple iPads, and they are also using such online resources as Twitter and Facebook. In fact, according to TechTarget’s “2009 Media Consumption Report,” which last August surveyed 1,685 IT buyers in the U.S. and the U.K. online, IT buyers are increasingly looking at a variety of content types during the buying process, including e-books, online videos, podcasts and virtual trade shows

It stands to reason then that your marketing efforts should take that information into account and embrace devices that help get your message out no matter how your prospects are logging in, said Andrea Fishman, VP-global strategy and partner at global interactive agency BGT Partners, Chicago. “The technology has finally caught up to a point where there is real value for people, especially on the channel side,” she said. “We’re seeing some really innovative ways that b-to-b technology marketers are using devices and platforms to get their messages out.”

Fishman and Al DiGuido, CEO of agency Zeta Interactive, New York, suggest taking a closer look at these marketing options:

  • E-book readers: While the manufacturers for the Kindle and Nook decline to release sales figures, one Barclays analyst thinks Amazon will sell 5 million Kindle units this year and Digitimes Research reported in April that e-reader sales overall will reach 11 million by the end of this year. This means that savvy tech marketers can capitalize on this trend by creating collateral specifically for those platforms, DiGuido said. “By this time next year, you’re going to need an electronic version of your catalog and spec sheets that can be delivered digitally and displayed on an e-reader,” he said. “Do it now, and you’ve got a big jump on the competition.”
  • Custom applications: “In a competitive environment, it’s hard to articulate the value of a multimillion-dollar purchase,” Fishman said. “We have a client that is giving out iPads with a preloaded [custom] ROI calculator on it so channel partners can be more effective and end-users can see your value right in front of them,” she said. Custom-developed iPad or online interactive applications are more dynamic, too; so, as your products evolve, your collateral can evolve beside them.
  • Social media applications: While there are plenty of services out there that can track your social media mentions, you might do better on your own since you can tweak and change what you’re listening for on the fly. Applications such as HootSuite and FriendFeed are DIY ways of keeping track of what people are talking about and how that relates to your product, which is important, DiGuido said. “You should be reading blogs and listening to the Twitter stream to see what people are talking about so you can better target your marketing messages.” Other great uses for Twitter, Fishman said: instant logistics and inventory updates. “Customers will know instantly if you’re able to fill their inventory needs without having to call,” she said.
  • Mobile-enabled videos. Video is a wonderful option for training, education and customer support. Fishman suggested developing video that streams well on mobile devices and takes into account its smaller form factor. “At the end of the day, it’s important to remember you’re not just marketing on the PC screen anymore,” she said.
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