Tech business – engage with marketing – seriously?
23 October 2015 | 0
What’s so special about tech SMEs that they don’t need marketing?
How many tech SME businesses out there don’t have a formal marketing resource? At what point do you need to bring in that resource and what should you expect as a result?
Marketing high-tech products and services presents unique challenges to SMEs. Sector characteristics and industry dynamics of sometimes shorter, unpredictable product lifecycles, often disruptive technologies and factors idiosyncratic to high tech environments can make for significant marketing challenges. A culture of valuing technology and engineering more than marketing often delays the inevitable lesson that technology itself is not valuable unless it can create viable products and services. Viable means meeting a need that either exists or must be created in the market. Creating value propositions is what a good marketing resource can do and generating or making the market aware of the need for that proposition is best managed through good marketing strategy.
Ask your business ‘What are you selling?’ vs ‘What is the customer buying?’ Google sells information, but people buy access to its market in a few seconds. Bridging that gap is critical to building your brand and your brand is who you are and what you stand for, and that’s important. Your marketing resource will help you to profile your business, educate your target audience, bring them to the point where they want to choose you rather than a competitor, making it easier for sales to do their job and ultimately help you to grow the business. They can also identify opportunities for your product or service in terms of new markets or new solutions. For example, in identifying more of its customers’ needs, Microsoft developed its Office Suite of applications to complement its Windows operating system.
“A culture of valuing technology and engineering more than marketing often delays the inevitable lesson that technology itself is not valuable unless it can create viable products and services”
So when do you engage with marketing and how? You need a budget but it does not have to be large — it could be funding-based, or 1-2% of sales is typical for many B2B companies. Commit to the budget and get going. If you cannot afford an in-house resource then outsource, but make sure you have specific objectives for the job.
Whatever your objectives some key elements you need to consider are as follows:
- Customer engagement: Content is King! You have to engage the customer and to do that you need good, quality, relevant content that should help and inform the audience, written in language that they will understand and distributed through the various communications channels – social, web site, print, email, etc – remember social media is a channel not a strategy! You need consistency and frequency so put a plan in place to generate your content and feed it to your target audience over a period of time.
- Market Positioning ie. your message to the target market: you must understand your customer and put yourself in their mind — what do you want them to think and say about you, your product or service. How do you want them to perceive you as different? Good positioning takes into account the wants, needs and interests of the target market and differentiates you from your competition. Positioning has to be supported throughout the company and should be reviewed regularly. It informs everything from content to how to interact with the customer.
- Marketing Goals: Set some marketing goals and tactics for achieving those goals. Align to sales as the ultimate objective is to increase the bottom line. Your goal might be to increase market share but make that quantifiable and detail how you will achieve the increase. Good strategy and good marketing tactics will help get those sales over the line.
As Jeff Weiner, CEO, LinkedIn said, “Great products resonate emotionally, it’s not just about utility”. As technologists and engineers you know ‘utility’ is covered — let the marketers create that emotional connection. There are so many good reasons to engage with marketing — seriously!
Ailbhe Duffy is the managing director of Target B2B Marketing