Decoding the Modern Buyer: A Guide for IT MSPs
In the dynamic world of IT Managed Services, understanding your audience is not just beneficial—it's essential. Gone are the days when IT decisions were confined to a specialized IT department. Today, the decision-making landscape within small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is notably more intricate, involving multiple stakeholders with diverse objectives and levels of technical know-how.
Navigating this complex ecosystem presents not just challenges but also unprecedented opportunities for meaningful engagement and long-term partnerships. The key to capitalizing on these opportunities lies in a deep understanding of modern IT buyer behavior, particularly within SMBs where roles are less rigid and organizational boundaries often overlap.
The Rise of Independent Online Research
The digital age has fundamentally changed the B2B research process, with 89% of buyers utilizing the internet for their informational needs. The landscape is particularly congested in the IT Managed Services sector, teeming with a lot of copy paste content—without much originality on the same set of commonly discussed IT topics. Office Managers and IT specialists alike are navigating this sea of information, each with their unique criteria and depth of expertise.
The saturation of content presents an opportunity to stand out through value differentiation. Office Managers, often tasked with initial vendor research, are drawn to trusted reviews and expert commentary. IT specialists, with their technical background, seek in-depth analyses, real-world use-cases, and data-backed insights. It’s not enough to be another voice in the crowd; you need to become a trusted advisor offering unique perspectives or proprietary research that can't be found elsewhere.
Every city has its share of IT MSPs, with the vast majority churning out content on the same buzzworthy subjects—cybersecurity, remote work, AI, the cloud, etc. That's why blending in isn't an option. In a landscape where others either fail to enable this independent research, or merely echo the common chatter, you must be the MSP to break the mold. It's not about joining the conversation; it's about bringing your own unique perspective and insight that positions you differently from the crowd.
Navigating the Terrain of Non-Technical Buyers
We all know that IT complexities are not everyone’s cup of tea. And in SMBs, it's common for roles without an IT background—such as Office Managers or certain C-Suite Executives—to be thrust into IT decision-making. Often, these individuals seek solutions to macro-level business challenges like cost-efficiency, smooth operations, or workforce productivity.
How do you reach these individuals? Don't underestimate the power of simplicity. Educational blogs, infographics, or even brief video content that breaks down complex IT subjects into digestible information can be immensely helpful here. If your content helps them decipher the IT conundrum in a way that aligns with their broader business goals, you have successfully set the stage for meaningful engagement. And again, positioning your business around business-first angles like these can be a way to stand out from the crowd.
Understanding the Nuanced Needs of Technical Buyers
On the flip side are your IT Specialists and CIOs. These are your tech-savvy, detail-oriented buyers who desire in-depth technical analyses. They pore over spec sheets, deep-dive into feature comparisons, and might even revel in the nitty-gritty of compliance standards.
In catering to this group, create content that dives deeper. Think whitepapers that dissect new technologies, or webinars featuring guest experts discussing industry trends. One of our clients has found that inviting local IT leaders to on-site "lunch and learns" has been an enormously impactful way to build relationships. The goal here is to match their level of expertise with content that adds value, thereby asserting yourself not just as a vendor, but as a subject matter expert.
Crafting a Cohesive Strategy for Varied Audiences
The necessity for a multi-faceted marketing approach is no longer a luxury—it's a requirement. The proliferation of customer touchpoints in the digital age mandates this complexity. Companies with robust, omnichannel customer engagement strategies see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue compared to 3.4% for those without such strategies. In this competitive IT landscape, having a siloed strategy will only work against you. Platforms like HubSpot or sophisticated CRM systems are invaluable for segmenting your audience based on their online behaviors, needs, and expectations, which consequently allows for personalized content delivery at the appropriate stages of their buying journey.
The focus must shift towards customer-centricity rather than product-centricity, which can be a challenge for tech-oriented leaders at MSPs (but also a massive opportunity for differentiation). Research by Deloitte shows that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies not focused on the customer. To effectively make this shift, align your digital strategy with solving real-world problems your varied audiences face. Understand that different roles within a business have distinct pain points, and tailor your messaging accordingly.
And of course, don't forget to continually review and adjust. The digital landscape is always changing, and your strategy should adapt accordingly. Leveraging analytics and customer feedback will keep your strategy attuned to evolving needs and expectations. Here, platforms that offer robust analytics features can provide actionable insights that can significantly inform your future strategies.
The Bottom Line: Your Roadmap to Navigating Modern IT Buyer Behavior
Understanding the contemporary IT buyer is not just about acknowledging the shift to digital. It's about deep customer insight, providing educational content that speaks to varied roles within an organization, and ultimately delivering solutions that align with their unique pain points and business objectives.
So, what's next? Audit your existing content. Is it nuanced enough to address the diversity of modern IT buyers? If not, it's time for strategic realignment. Create multi-dimensional content that resonates with different roles. Remember, the modern IT buying landscape is multifaceted, and so should be your marketing approach.
Need help with that content plan? Consider a complimentary marketing assessment from Aspire. One of our seasoned strategists will sit down with you, give you a detailed assessment of your strengths and opportunities, and answer your questions live—with no obligation.
Aaron Marks is the President and Founder of Aspire Marketing Group. A digital pioneer with nearly two decades of online marketing experience, Aaron has helped organizations ranging from fledgling startups to Fortune 500 enterprises, and global manufacturers to U.S. Presidential campaigns, get the marketing and business results they needed.