Don't Get 'Lost in Translation' in 2012
Just as Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson make ideal, yet improbable companions experiencing the culture, sights and sounds of contemporary Tokyo in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film, Lost in Translation, so too do PR people and members of the press.
We are ideal, yet improbable companions – only our shared experiences relate to our client’s key messages. Never before has the need to clearly articulate their value proposition for each audience they are trying to influence been more paramount. Without this laser-focus and the proper message segmentation, their messages will just get lost in the shuffle.
This is especially true in today’s uncertain macro-economic environment, where every competitor our clients have is hedging their bets by expanding into new areas, jockeying for position in existing markets or putting out messages that sound eerily similar to our own. One way around this is to help our clients sharpen their messages by pulling out what’s most important for each buyer.
That said, as you plan your PR campaigns for 2012, here are some interesting factoids to keep in mind about how IT purchasing decisions are made, who’s at the table and what sources are most trusted.
According to IDG’s 2011 Study on the Role and Influence of the Technology Decision Maker, the decision sits with different stakeholders at each stage of the process, and this decision is far more segmented today than it was years ago. For example, most survey respondents said Line of Business (LOB) determines the business need of a new solution, but they are not as involved in evaluating it. Instead, those who lead the pack in determining the requirements for it, evaluating vendors and recommending or selecting vendors are IT professionals and IT/network managers. And, here’s where the segmentation gets even more interesting. Those “selling” these solutions internally are CIOs. CIOs are also approving the purchase, followed closely by CFOs.
Here’s another new data point you may not have known: two-thirds of organizations surveyed have a steering committee responsible for providing guidance on overall IT direction. The steering committee is comprised of the CIO, LOB management, CTO/architect, corporate management, IT pros and the CFO, CEO, COO and CSO. This is a huge group to influence and you know each has a vastly different agenda.
Here are a few additional factoids to ponder as you craft your clients' messages for 2012:
- If an organization has less than 1,000 employees, five people on average influence major technology purchases. If an organization has more than 1,000 employees, 11 or more people influence the purchase!
- IT departments spend an average of five hours per week meeting with current technology vendors, compared to only two hours per week meeting with prospective vendors.
- The sales cycle is three to four months for a “familiar” vendor compared to six to seven months for an “unfamiliar” vendor.
And where do these folks get their information on new technologies?
- 75% from technology publications
- 74% from technology aggregation sites like CNET or CIO.com
- 69% from peers and white papers
- 60% from webcasts/webinars
Of note, the following sources have less influence than you may think:
- 50% from third party firms like Gartner
- 49% from business press
- 41% from tradeshows
- 39% from case studies
- 34% from blogs and wikis
- 16% from mobile feeds/updates
See the slide below for a complete view of responses from the last three years of IDG Role and Influence surveys.
Bottom line, to avoid being lost in translation, clients need to dig deep for those differentiated value statements that will resonate at the right level to influence a reporter the same way they need to tailor these messages for IT buyers. After all, reporters care about driving as many eyeballs as they can to their stories and those with the most compelling and unique messages will be covered.
Furthermore, when clients understand the influence “familiarity” has on accelerating the sales cycle they should be more receptive to the segmentation process.
Finally, despite the many ways they try to influence IT buyers, remind them the most trusted sources still link back to that ideal, yet improbable relationship between PR and the press.