As exec VP-director of client relations at b-to-b advertising agency Doremus, San Francisco, John Mannion works with clients such as Sage North America and Brocade to help them break through to busy IT professionals. BtoB recently spoke with Mannion about trends and best practices in IT marketing. BtoB: How has the recession affected the way marketers target IT professionals? Mannion: There are two big messaging trends right now. One [is to discuss] anything to do with economics—the economics of IT and how, in some cases, you can spend some money to save a bunch of money. [Marketers are focusing on] more than just total cost of ownership or ROI; we're seeing a lot of messages about the immediate savings you can see. There's [also] a lot of messaging being driven around efficiency. Some of it has to do with energy efficiency—getting more done with the same amount of power. The next biggest trend is around virtual computing—the idea of pooling everything into one amorphous repository of computing power and storage capacity. We're seeing a lot of messaging around that because it plays so squarely into the savings message. Virtualization is about getting the most out of all the hardware you have, making sure you don't have independent pieces of equipment that are just sitting there unused. It's one of those things people will invest in because it's seen as having a close payoff right away. BtoB: What can help marketers stand out in this type of environment, when companies are reluctant to spend? Mannion: One thing helping them make a difference is online calculators that allow users to calculate the difference for themselves. Those are still very helpful because they provide specific proof. It also helps to provide ways in which the user can then share that information. Video content also continues to grow and is still performing very well. [Another way to stand out is to] provide a way to rate [content] or participate in a bit of a conversation. I'm seeing clients get more and more comfortable with that idea. Those conversations are going to happen one way or the other, so creating a forum for them, even if you don't control the content, continues to gain more and more recognition. —M.E.M.