Paul Stringfellow works at Gardner Systems plc and has 20 years working with IT Infrastructure and now specialises in the design, development and strategic direction that it will take.
This month's theme of "Sales and Marketing for an IT Professional" really caught my attention...
Because over the last few months myself and my company have started to look at and use the power of social media to make sure we get our message out to our customers, So I thought some of my fellow IT professionals may find it interesting to see how we’ve got on and indeed why bother with this social media lark?
Why bother with Sales and Marketing?
That’s probably the question many an IT Pro asks themselves, it certainly was the question I asked myself, let’s face it, in the end us IT Pro’s are techies we’re not sales and marketing people, they’re a whole different breed and while possibly they are, what we maybe shouldn’t forget is that the reality is for all of us, in all walks of life or ability to sell and market ourselves is really important.
Did that mean I wanted a career switch into a sales and marketing role? Certainly not, I didn’t want to turn myself into a sales and marketing person, however what has happened is I’ve found myself using social media in particular to start to “market” the work we do at our company.
Doing that has been really interesting for us, we’ve seen an increased level of engagement with customers, suppliers and even our competitors and all that for the good.
So are we talking about marketing in the traditional sense? Not really, what we are looking at though is how using social media has helped us share the things that we are enthusiastic about, with others quickly and easily.
What do I say?
I suppose that’s the starting point, what on earth do I say? Let’s face it, this isn’t about sharing info on our personal lives, where we are, what we’ve been up to…and endless pictures of our food choices or pouring cold water on our heads.
What you say of course is up to you…but for me, I think the success of any kind of messaging we want to share, is to do that for the right reasons, if you go into this with the wrong idea, maybe thinking of how can I use some marketing to manipulate others, or even perhaps thinking, sales and marketing is dead easy, let me see if I can use a bit of marketing to sell stuff, to be honest unless you know what you’re doing you’re more likely to damage your reputation rather than enhance it.
Probably like most techies, I think we love a bit of technology, we like stuff that fixes problems, does clever things, delivers elegant and smart solutions into our companies, organisations and customers, and maybe like most techies we’re happy to share that with anyone who’ll listen. That was the thing that’s encouraged me to start taking more seriously how some of those marketing tools can be used to help share useful messages to anyone who may be interested.
That has been my only goal with increasing my “marketing” output, looking at how Twitter, Linkedin and my shiny new blog can help me to get information that interests me out to a wider audience of people who may be interested as well.
If there is a secret or tip to this, personally I think it is do it for the right reasons, if you’re looking at this with a genuine interest in informing people who may be interested in the kind of things you do (and don’t worry, there will be someone out there interested in your output) then that’s going to help you big time, it’s going to help you write things with some enthusiasm and it’s going to allow you to produce regular content (we all like sharing things that interest us).
Is it worth it?
A really great question, well I suppose that depends what “worth it” means to you, in my case, I’d been thinking for ages about setting up a blog. There’s lots of interesting things I get to do as part of my job, work with good customers, smart technology vendors and get presented with interesting problems that need solving and I just felt that sharing that would be something I’d like to do and that some other people may find interesting.
So for me, yep, totally worth it, as it’s allowed me to share some stuff that has interested me and has helped inform people who know me, or engage with me on social media, about not only the kind of things that me and my company can do, but also give them a source of information on the kind of technology and solutions that are out there.
What to do?
Hopefully there is enough here to convince you that as an IT pro, getting out there and sharing what you know will benefit both yourself and also your peers, customers, companies you work for, because the more useful technical information that’s out there, the better that is.
Where do you then start, well for me, nothing earth shattering here.
- Get tweeting – but not just “marketing messages” share things that interest you, tell people what you doing…what interests you and why – not just the link to the latest company marketing push – no one wants that!
- Use Linkedin – over the last few months I’ve seen what a really useful tool this is for engaging with all kinds of people – get posting regularly, start with the free account, don’t worry about the paid for choices just yet, if you have a blog post you will also get the option to post pieces that get publicised in the Linkedin blog engine.
- Blog away – there are some excellent blog posts out there – these give you the option to provide a little more detail and share a bit more interesting information.
- Engage away – don’t just push your stuff out there…engage with others, read other blogs, engage in “conversation” on twitter or Linkedin groups – promote other peoples useful information too, you’ll find they’ll come check you out in return.
- Be regular – post regular information – I don’t mean spend all day social networking – but send out regular info, more people will engage with you if you do.
- Be professional – if you want to rant about football, politics, life in general then maybe your professional accounts are not the place to do that – think what you’re aiming to do and be sensible what you say and where!
- Don’t be too worried about how it looks – just get stuff out there that interests you – don’t worry about how pretty your blog looks, just get it published.
- Go on, get out there, give it a go… who knows how the information you share, may be useful in the future.
- 5 Mistakes IT Pros Make Progressing their Career
- How to talk to Marketing and get yourself heard
- Marketing - Too Important to be Left Solely to the Marketing Department
- New release to manage? Top tips on communicating, educating and activating users.
- How IT’s Relationship with Sales and Marketing is Changing
Have you started your own blog and/or started using social media to help market yourself and your business? Let us know in the comments section below or via @TechNetUK