For longer than I care to admit, I have been marketing a variety of software products to enterprise IT professionals and managers, from cloud-based start-ups to SAP. What appeals to about this space is the technical nature of the products and the challenges of differentiating a client’s products from their competitors. It’s also gratifying to hear about the customer successes and how a client’s technology is making a very real difference.
Over the years, the marketing approach we’ve used has involved more or less the same set of tools. To launch a new product release, for instance, you first get everyone together and figure out a press release and some messaging, tie into a trade show, update the web site, put together a slide deck for sales and follow up with telemarketing.
And while all that still holds true, what’s changed is the growing influence of blogging. Over the last couple of years, blogging about enterprise software has expanded by leaps and bounds. The list of bloggers on the SAP Community Network or over at Oracle is truly extensive and growing steadily. Moreover, there are dozens upon dozens of consultants and managers all with a story to tell and blogging regularly.
It only makes sense that enterprise software would be a fertile ground for blogs. This stuff is complex and changes constantly. And no piece of enterprise software ever dies. It simply isn’t possible for a general IT publication to even do a passable of job of delivering on information needs across all the little niches and cubbyholes. Enterprise software bloggers play a critical role in keeping specialized audiences informed and educated.
You might think the IT managers are all business and no fun, but having tied one on at a few SAPPHIREs, I can safely say that this can be a lively community. It follows that Facebook is a popular gathering place for various IT communities. For instance, the SAPPHIRENOW 2010 (not sure about that name) Facebook page has nearly 2,000 fans, sharing critical information such as this photo of Shaun White with an SAP airport sign:
With blogging and social media on the upswing in the enterprise IT space, it follows that as marketers and IT professionals, we need to be there too. No longer is it enough to just do the press release, the trade show circuit and webinars. You need to be blogging (or podcasting and videocasting), you need to be on Facebook. You need to be active and participating in the forums. You need to build communities of your own.
The rise of social media changes what we do in marketing and PR. Instead of focusing on finely tuned brochures and trade show booths, we spend time encouraging content owners and technical experts to keep blogging and looking for ways to syndicate content across blogs and various social media channels. An example of how this works is a blog post by Deb Lavoy of Open Text (a McKenzie Worldwide client) that ended up on the AIIM Facebook page. AIIM is a large enterprise content management professional association.
If you’re an enterprise marketer, it would be great to hear how you see blogging and social media changing your approach. What’s working? What’s not? What are some of the best ways to take full advantage of this channel? I plan on delving deeper into this subject in future posts. Let’s talk.