CIO buyer persona needs new messaging

Just about everyone I know is working feverishly to update their messaging strategies. The abrupt downturn in the economy has caused most prospects to rethink their priorities and "buying criteria"-- the capabilities that a buyer ranks highest during the purchase process. For most of us, this means that any messaging we developed prior to September 2008 needs to be rewritten.

So I thought if might be helpful if I shared some insight into the new priorities of the Chief Information Officer ("CIO"), one of the buyer personas most frequently cited by attendees of the Effective Product Marketing seminar.

Let's call this CIO persona Sam. Sam is on the executive team for a global, multi-billion dollar company that sells commodity products in a very mature market.

As a result of the economic downturn, Sam's budget for IT investments has been substantially reduced, causing him to re-evaluate every one of his plans for the IT projects he had slated for this year.

Sam says that he looks for answers to these three questions to conduct that evaluation:

  1. What does the technology do to support the company's strategy?
  2. What is the business case?
  3. How much risk is in the project?

In the past, Sam says that he could justify IT investments that helped the company make money. For example, last year he was able to recommend technology that made the people in his company more productive. But not now.

For the next year at least, Sam says that every IT investment will be evaluated for its ability to create predictable, measurable cost savings. Sam says it is just too hard to measure improvements in productivity and too risky to expect the company to make the changes needed to realize that benefit.

We asked Sam to give us more insight into this statement. He noted that people have grown accustomed to rapid improvements in relatively inexpensive, easy-to-use technology products in their personal lives. While Sam has different concerns with corporate technology, especially in the areas of security, support and compatibility, he faces major resistance if the solution is costly or requires changes in business processes.

Sam says that his priorities are single-threaded right now -- find places to reduce the IT budget -- even if that involves nontraditional ways of delivering IT. As much as Sam wishes that internal stakeholders would ask him for recommendations on what IT can do to make the company more productive, all anyone cares about is the budget.

In this respect at least, it should be easy for us as marketers to personally relate to Sam's pain. Most of us are in reaction mode with companies that have asked us to cut our budgets. If we simply cut out all of the wasted effort that wasn't going to impress Sam (or another buyer persona) anyway, we may be surprised at how easy it is to comply. In fact, this may be our best chance to eliminate the work that we always knew was a waste of time.

Topics: B2B, Buyer Personas, Buying Criteria, Good Use of Personas, Positioning & Messaging, Technology Buyers

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