Here’s an example. We’re talking of a fairly large IT services company (we’re talking of north of $100 million) and they have figured they need to move from a pure sales approach to include ‘marketing’. Marketing as in other than events! And now we’re in their board-room about what facets there are and what marketing can do for them. It’s not that it’s not understood — goes without saying they’re a successful company — but the first responses to the marketing plan invariably are:
‘Oh, but your customers are all the flagship technology ‘product’ companies. Do we need all that depth? We just need ‘better presence’ on online — digital media!’
Yes, you do! So of course we investigate more.
- TWB_: Why do you think so?
- Customer: Because they are in a fast-moving world. It’s more complex for them. We don’t need to say a lot. Ours is a simple problem.
- TWB_: But you do so many things in so many verticals already. You need to talk about that. And then you need to talk about the positions you want to move to, since that’s where your customer and market is going.
- Customer: When they ask us, we’ll do it. We don’t want to do anything buzzy!
Is marketing technology services all that simple?
Without going into the differences between technology products and technology services (and sometimes it does get really fuzzy), let’s stick to the business of services as in ‘professional services’ or ‘software development’ and increasingly ‘consulting’ for this argument.
There are basic marketing concepts at the core of both products and services. But for the most part we’d argue that marketing for technology services is actually more complex than it is for technology products. In the case of a product, the vectors on which it operates are better known.
- What it does is clearly known.
- The position you keep in the market vis-à-vis competition is relatively clearly known.
- The development path you have is relatively clearly known.
The challenge primarily is to drive engagement on these vectors.
For products, the flexibility to commit is limited. With a product, while one can make forward-looking statements to make a ‘dip-stick’ test of the market on features and requirements, you can’t throw the apple all that far from the tree. Your product will have to deliver and relatively quickly, too. Products and product engineering are not that quick to reconfigure.
In the case of services, however, the vectors are kind of fuzzier. That’s because the services marketing mix has key differences from that of products: providing evidence, dependence on people, and repeatability of process. Customers need to see these things to decide in your favor and that’s not exactly easy. Also,
- Services need a lot of explanation.
- Difference to competition is not readily obvious.
- The competitive advantage services creates are not always clear.
The ‘why and what’ of creating the technology services marketing engine.
The first question to answer is who or what is creating the initial engagement? Is it your sales guys? And if it is — then you definitely need to up the marketing ante.
The second question to answer is how? To drive any engagement, you have to invest in creating a place for yourself.
- Don’t be ‘anybody’. Be ‘somebody’. The best companies are.
- It’s important for your marketing to communicate a thought out position into the future.
- Create a high flow of high quality content across channels to create conversations to engage customers and provide insights.
If the service offered can’t effectively convince people to purchase, then it’s an even chance customer will buy from someone else. If you are able to effectively demonstrate why your offer is better than your competitors, differentiate the offer, use the right medium for marketing, and communicate the benefits, then you have the opportunity for success.
The best professional software development and consulting services see the value in driving engagement, and creating an outgoing marketing content stream. TWB_ is where creativity meets technology. We’re the strategic + creative + content agency for technology brands. We work with several Fortune 500 brands, including Microsoft, Lenovo, Intel, Cisco, Oracle, SAP, and Samsung. TWB_ makes technology stand out. firstname.lastname@example.org