BlueJeans may have started as a video conferencing company, but at the end of the day, we are in the business of helping IT and business leaders make their teams more productive and successful. We recognize that a meetings platform is only a piece of that puzzle—productivity and success happen when employees are connected, empowered, and engaged.
Last week, I attended the IDG Engage conference for marketers and communications professionals. It was perfect for me—a half day filled with important information and two interesting panels. I was back at my desk by the early afternoon full of some new ideas, thanks to Julie Ekstrom and her team at IDG who packed tons of information into a few hours.
I thought about the conference again over the weekend when a family member asked me to explain corporate communications. There has been considerable change in the profession over the past 10-15 years and the team at IDG has done a great job positioning its organization to retain value to both the IT executive decision-makers and the corporate communications professionals trying to reach them. It’s all about content. What kind of content will engage the target audience? In this case, how are you going to reach the IT decision maker/buyer?
To start the morning, IDG presented data from a recent survey of CIOs and IT professionals. Since I have been in this business, IDG (across its publications and vertical service groups) has been hyper-focused on the CIO/IT audience. And they now have a trove of valuable data on what type of content works with various buyer and user personas.
Here are a couple highlights:
- Cloud is a growth area with the majority (53%) of purchases being additional solutions.
- The CIO is driving the purchase process for IT Services. They are #1 across all stages.
Using the right content to engage IT buyers is not easy. Maybe it never was, but when I started out there were many more IT publications and content—primarily press releases and bylines—flowed through the editorial and analyst community. Now vendors participate in the news business with their own publishing platforms. And there is tremendous value in that evolution if used to complement how we engage publishers like IDG. That message was clear to me. If hybrid IT is driving digital transformation, then hybrid communications is driving brand awareness. You have to do it all well if you want to reach buyers and decision makers.
The first panel included three CIOs: Walter Curd, CIO of Maxim Integrated Products, Ann Dunkin, CIO of the County of Santa Clara, and Deb Muro, CIO of El Camino Hospital. They openly discussed what information is important to their day-to-day and how they find it. But they also made it clear that a vendor has little to no chance of getting their attention. You have to work through their circle of influence. Who do they trust? It’s likely a mix of colleagues and peers, the media, and analyst influencers.
The second panel included Chief Marketing Officers at three companies. I work for a CMO and it’s always interesting for me to see the full arsenal of tools CMOs use to drive awareness, create pipeline, and support the buyer prospect to the point of purchase. On the panel were Tiffaney Fox Quintana with HelloSign, Robin Matlock with VMWare and Steve Shalita with Pluribus Networks. Each of the panelists had views on different parts of the industry, but all had great tips on which content will align marketing and sales and engage the buyer. Some highlights include:
- Only 46% of marketers feel aligned with sales, according to a recent LinkedIn study.
- Marketers are overly focused on marketing sourced pipe, which can create an unhealthy dialogue with sales. We have a tendency to focus on any engagement with our marketing content/programs as a win.
- Teams must work together to orchestrate marketing and sales plays with choreography. Without a combined focus, both sides will fail.
- In order to earn credibility with sales, we must lead with the business. This means that we must engage with the customers to really know the buyer.
Overall, IDG hosted a great conference that has stayed with me. Corporate communications is more valuable today because of the data that is available—often from organizations like IDG. That said, like any good tool, it must be picked up and used in order to work.