Tech marketers must seek broadest horizontal venues

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There's a motto every software and tech vendor should follow, according to Ilan Paretsky, VP-marketing at Closter, N.J.-based Ericom Software: "Know thy IT crowd; they're tough, but always fair," Paretsky said.

Paretsky and his company do, indeed, know their audience well. Ericom has served more than 30,000 customers and performed 6 million installations throughout Asia, Europe and North America since the application access software company was founded in 1993. This includes strategic and original equipment partnerships with companies such as IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc.

BtoB asked Paretsky what marketers need to know about the ever-changing IT sector.

BtoB: What are the latest trends in IT that vendors should pay close attention to?

Paretsky: Reducing IT operational costs, meeting user demands, enhancing work force productivity, as well as improving business processes and complying with new regulations, are the top current trends in IT and are likely to remain so in the long term. These trends do not necessarily point to specific products and services, but rather to specific traits and characteristics of products that answer the market's pain.

BtoB: What are the greatest opportunities for marketers to reach and engage IT audiences?

Paretsky: The most prescient issues facing IT professionals are not vertically focused; they span industries and are universal in nature. Therefore, it is imperative that marketers seek horizontal, tech-focused venues to reach the most diversified audiences. Presenting and exhibiting at technology trade shows-particularly at technology partner events where attendees can view the synergies between technologies-participating in user group forums and on respected independent technology analyst sites are all effective methods of raising your visibility within the IT community.

BtoB: What are the greatest challenges in capturing their attention?

Paretsky: The greatest challenge for marketers is striking the right balance of communicating the high-level business benefits of the products they represent to C-suite decision-makers while also speaking specifically to the day-to-day pains and needs of the IT department. Many marketers make the mistake of viewing the IT community homogeneously rather than focusing on the specific issues that practitioners face in their daily routines. By doing so, they speak of broad-based business goals that are important to the senior decision-makers but not to an IT administrator who needs to provide the technological underpinning to any corporate strategy.

BtoB: What types of marketing messages come across best to IT decision-makers and influencers?

Paretsky: For messaging and creative elements to appeal to these audiences, they need to be heavily feature- and function-oriented, as well as outline the day-to-day business benefits. Abstract visual ideas are definitely out, while high-level technical illustrations are in. IT staff are the perfect example of the classic "show me" audience. Due to the highly technical nature of IT crowds, online media are the winning vehicles, hands-down. Vehicles that work well are those that enable two-way interaction and enable the audience to check out and verify your offering and get a positive proof of its value.

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