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IT departments no longer control the majority of IT purchasing decisions. The new buyer is line-of-business leaders. Marie Rourke, founder and president, WhiteFox Marketing, explored this idea at ChannelCon this month via a panel discussion with Jennifer Anaya, vice president, marketing, Ingram Micro; Michael Goldstein, president, LAN Infotech; and Shannon Mayer, vice president, channel development, The ASCII Group.
Rourke asked the panel, “Who are channel partners selling to and how is that different from how they were selling before?” Goldstein pointed to having made an early investment in social media. “It really has changed a lot because when we go out to sell technology, they’ve already seen what we post,” he said.
Anaya also touted the virtues of social. “Getting out and talking to different kinds of people and different age groups is awesome,” she said, adding that this does require some re-education internally. “You have to completely reorient the sales team to not speak tech speak but to speak the language of the people they’re selling to,” she said.
Rourke asked the panel to share best practices in creating awareness of a company’s value-prop. “It’s not about the elevator pitch,” Anaya said. “Tell your story. Who are the people in your company who really make you unique?”
Mayer recommended using a couple different mediums – such as videos, customer reposts and testimonials – in getting a message out.
Rourke asked the panel, “How do you measure social marketing?” Goldstein answered, “It adds up.” He specified that his company is involve with its local chamber of commerce and people see that and associate it with its online presence. Rourke added, “A simple deal like deploying WiFi in a restaurant can resonate.”
“How do you elaborate on content you’ve generated?” Rourke asked. “Putting together a website doesn’t have to cost you $20,000,” Mayer said. “Don’t look at it as daunting.” Goldstein shared anecdotes about his company working with the Red Cross to invest in its community; doing an event with the Florida Marlins that involved a “Secret Service cybersecurity guy”; and mentioning Michael Dell in a blog entry and getting an immediate, 45-minute call from Dell himself.