IT products for big businesses are complex and specific systems for a limited circle of consumers. Relationships with clients in this area are not short-term: before a direct transaction, you need to prove your expertise and stability, tell the customer how the technology works, how it will help the business, and how it will affect its financial result.
Segmentation of IT companies by the target audience
From the point of view of potential consumers, the information technology market is globally divided into b2b and b2c segments. And suppose the second segment offers “boxed products” – ready-made software for a single end user. In that case, the first segment involves different models of cooperation depending on the needs and budgets of the client. In b2c, the transaction cycle is short – the buyer pays for the product or a subscription and starts using it. He uses the original version of the software, and in most cases, the maximum available to him is to customize the product for his own needs.
The B2B segment is subdivided into:
- mass – these are products for a small business, also often “boxed”;
- medium – ready-made solutions, but with the possibility of customization according to needs;
- large – enterprise, which is distinguished by the deep processing of each technology used for the client’s needs. Here, we are talking about large complex projects, extended work with the customer (from six months), and, of course, the corresponding budgets. There are at most 1000 such clients for the entire IT market, and we will talk about the features of promotion to this particular target audience.
Zero impulsiveness and emotionality
B2c is characterized by emotional, impulsive purchases. People quickly decide to increase the cost of a product they like.
In b2b, spontaneous transactions are impossible, and consumers act within the designated budget and management settings. And the more significant the client’s business, the more balanced each purchase is. At stake are both high costs and the reputation of the specialist who decides on the allocation of the budget – he is expected not only to comply with the spending plan but also to impact profits from the IT product positively. Therefore, the decision maker calculates everything in detail and analyzes and compares current proposals.
With a business audience, they speak the language of benefits: before starting to promote a particular solution, you need to carefully analyze the needs of potential customers, the directions that your product covers, the ratio of costs for its implementation, and the return project timelines, and describe successful cases.
You need to pack information into several messages, each distributed in different formats: publications in the media, mailing lists, participation in professional events, and so on. Communicating regularly, for a long time, and clearly with the target audience is essential to become familiar with and to earn trust. This works both for today’s demand and for deferred needs, which will be discussed below.
Narrow target audience
Expensive custom systems are used by financial, telecommunications, and large industrial enterprises – there are several hundred such companies in Russia. Due to the narrowness of the segment, account-based marketing comes to the fore when marketers consider each client as a separate market.
Large companies have many lines of business and needs, and hence local target audiences. For example, users of the electronic document management system can be sales managers, accountants, lawyers, the production department, and others. And all of these are different audiences with unique needs and challenges.
Interaction with a large client, according to the account-based marketing model, begins with its thorough study: of business areas, organizational structure, and investment vector. It is important to understand the overall strategy of the enterprise. Is it an industry leader or an organization lagging behind in digitalization? Perhaps it stands aside and focuses on quality service. Depending on the answers to these questions, decisions, and arguments in favor of your proposal change. Having studied a large client as a separate market, the IT company projects the identified needs onto its portfolio of expertise in order to offer targeted solutions to emerging problems.
Building an image through content marketing
The promotion of an IT company in the b2b market is based on content. Clients are told about familiar processes so that they see themselves in the description. Articles, posts on social networks, reviews in the media – everything is aimed at getting acquainted with the technology, compatibility with other solutions, and the approach to user support after implementation. Content marketing forms the image of a developer or integrator, demonstrates expertise and “catches” the client’s attention.
Communication is built in the language of the client’s needs and concerns. Misunderstanding of terminology and technologies leads to an unsatisfactory result. At best, zero hits. But sometimes ridiculous mistakes spoil the reputation – in the eyes of consumers, an IT company becomes unprofessional.
A content marketer is a key figure in marketing, he must know the product and the market. The first two years, such specialists learn to understand the needs and language of the audience. They reach the professional level after 3-5 years of work in the IT industry, when they become able to qualitatively reveal the benefits of products. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced employee for communication, young specialists can only act as assistants here.
Building a strong HR brand
The success of an IT company depends on the intellectual potential of employees. What tasks do they solve, how responsibly they perform the work and whether they feel comfortable in the corporate structure, are they ready to develop in it.
An HR brand is important for promotion, although it affects sales only indirectly. Even after the popularization of IT and the departure of foreign companies, there is still a shortage of qualified personnel on the market. People after short-term courses do not cope with the complex tasks that arise when working in the b2b market. The hunt for the best teams in the market who are able to implement projects on a federal scale is in full swing, so the marketing task is to create a strong HR brand.
Content also rules here: through it, they demonstrate good working conditions and a healthy corporate atmosphere. Regular meetings and useful events for IT people also help.
The ultimate goal is to make the company so compelling that top performers can lower their financial expectations in favor of interesting challenges and the way they work. This is how team productivity increases, turnover decreases, and management builds a stable enterprise.
There is one more bonus: today’s current or potential employees can become customers tomorrow. And a strong HR brand is a great way to build trust in a company.
Dealing with pending needs
Often consumers are interested in IT products for the future. They leave requests, but do not have an urgent need for implementation. Perhaps now there is not enough money or time.
Business does not stand still, companies develop, improve their financial situation and face new needs. After 6-8 months, a potential client can return to the issue of product implementation.
During this time, the marketing must stay connected. Continue communications, talk about expertise, show cases and share news. If you remain visible, at the time of need, the client will not have a question where to turn for a solution.
Features of evaluating marketing results
In the b2b enterprise market, customers rarely start cooperation with large contracts. At the start, they limit themselves to inexpensive pilot projects in order to evaluate the contractor, look at the expertise and approach to team building. If the consumer is satisfied with everything, in subsequent years he expands the interaction.
On average, every year marketing leads bring ~ 20% of new deals and 5% of turnover. Depending on the direction, the figures may change, but the essence remains the same: it is not correct to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing in the first year of operation. Since a large segment has a long transaction cycle, then partners come to full-fledged projects in 2-3 years, then it will be fair to evaluate the work of marketing.
The promotion of IT companies on the b2b market is a laborious and lengthy process. Investments in millions of rubles can only bring the first results after years. To achieve success, there must be a clear strategy and a qualified team that understands IT and can speak the same language with large clients.