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Marketing to the evolving IT organization

Two recent articles in CIO Magazine feature companies (Yum Restaurants, Quintiles Transnational) in which IT departments are taking on new roles in order to more effectively serve their organizations.  With a focus on what’s new and noteworthy, these articles profile departments that are leading their peers in reorganizing and redefining how they provide value. Such a shift has important implications for the value propositions, messages, and creative aimed at this audience.

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Finding the right message for B2B decision makers

New research from McKinsey & Company reveals a gap between the messaging themes that B2B companies communicate and the attributes most valued by B2B buyers.  While most B2B companies emphasis themes like corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and global reach their target audience is most influenced by messages about honest and open dialogue, responsible supply chain management, and specialist expertise.  In addition to this gap, the research also shows a lack of differentiation among B2B brand messages: Most B2B companies are communicating the same themes.

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Humanized brands still need to be relevant and focused

Many marketers these days are focused on the importance of “humanizing” the brand in order to be more authentic and engage more deeply with customers.  A lot of the discussion on this topic focuses on the opportunities (especially through social media) to showcase the real people behind a brand and engage consumers in two-way conversations.

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Relevant messaging in a changing IT outsourcing landscape

IT organizations are becoming more mature users of outsourced services and delivery models.  Isurus’ research across multiple technology categories shows a shift in how IT evaluates outsourcing options and its use of various models (offshore vs. domestic, in-house vs. outsourced, on-premise vs. offsite hosting, etc.), and these trends are also evident in research conducted by CIO Magazine, Forrester, and others. 

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One from the archives: 7 Communication tips from the B2B trenches

Based on research with business decision makers we’ve developed broad recommendations for B2B marketers aiming to overcome these challenges. Although each company and sector faces a unique set of communications challenges, the following seven themes apply in some degree to any company–including yours.

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Words matter. Exhibit A: The “fiscal cliff”

Most readers of this blog need no convincing when it comes to the importance of the words we use to name and describe products, companies, and issues.  We spend significant hours and budgets thinking about the most compelling, resonant language with which to describe our offerings.

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Sometimes your channel is your brand

“There is very little loyalty left. Manufacturer X is mercenary. They just want to make money, and I’m mercenary. In other words, Manufacturer X doesn’t care about me, and I don’t care about Manufacturer X. They just make a good product.” This quote from a recent study sums up the state of many of the channel relationships we see across a range of technology and industrial B2B markets.

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Positioning challenges for technology startups

When we look at the cyclical patterns of startups vs. legacy systems we feel this time around will go much smoother than last major round of startups – the .com era. Today’s IT executives have been through this process before and know where the risks lie and how to mitigate them as much as possible. In a silver lining to the sluggish economy’s grey cloud, budgets are tight so even the most hyped technologies (e.g. mobile) receive much more attention and systematic evaluation than previous .com initiatives ever did.

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Why likability matters

Likability is also one important criterion we use to test advertising.  Even as advertising and advertising research have become much more sophisticated over time, likability continues to be a useful predictor of effectiveness. 

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Marketing and selling to the reptilian brain

Tim Riesterer’s recent HBR blog post about stimulating the customer’s “lizard brain” to make a sale correlates with Isurus’ work on messaging and sales effectiveness.  Riesterer points out that most sales messages fail to compel buyers to move away from the status quo because our “lizard brain”—the brain stem and other structures responsible for our survival instincts—prefers safety and avoids risk. Implicit in this message is the idea that a purely logical message often isn’t enough to drive change.  To make a sale that breaks the status quo, the sales message must appeal to the lizard brain.

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