Tech Marketing: Between High Expectations and Neglection
Since its founding in 2018, Techstory has accompanied more than 30 tech companies in their marketing (communications) strategy and execution. For our customer projects, we screened and analyzed more than 1.000 tech companies.
Here is a wrap-up of our tech marketing observations:
Solutions ahead of their time
Being innovative comes with a price. Your product might solve complex problems and maybe your CEO has even become an established thought leader by now. However, most of your target audience is not ready to buy yet or to extend their prototypical solutions. Will increased marketing efforts change the priorities of relevant decision makers? Not in the short-run!
You have to rely on strong salespeople as drivers of your company’s lasting success. Nonetheless, when you neglect your marketing investments at an early stage, you are losing a competitive advantage. In the meanwhile, the few competitors you have, could build up their online presence and start dominating the conversation. Once the market is ready to buy, companies with a digital footprint start to take off!
Your future business success demands endurance in marketing.
Competing in a dominated market
At the opposite end of the spectrum: What do you do when you are playing not only in a crowded, but in a dominated market? Your resources can not compete with the marketing budget of the market leaders – especially when their products convince as well.
That is why your product must move into a niche quickly! The homework starts with thorough market research. By that, we do not mean Google search. If you do not have access to IT analysts such as Gartner, it might become hard to detect new suitable market segments. Your alternative is to apply “creative approaches” (ex. mystery shopping) to learn who your potential customers are and what exactly they might need. Next, you have to adapt your market offer, which usually starts with marketing communications and not the product itself.
Trust in marketing tactics
Whenever marketing budget is increased, targets and expectations follow suit. Some marketing activities such as community building on Social Media, brand building via PR or content cooperations with partners will bring the company closer to its target group, but it takes time. Other marketing activities such as online advertisement or buying leads might bring immediate results further down the sales cycle, which gets demonstrated by KPIs. However, the quantity rarely converts.
We do not fall into the trap to value one marketing approach higher than the other. It is the mix that matters! However, we see some sort of marketing evangelism in practice. Freeing oneself from favouring channels that are closer to a marketer’s own skills set and interests helps to come up with a marketing communication mix that fosters business growth.
Equally important is management buy-in based on acceptance that the execution of a new marketing strategy needs one year to prove its worth.
Scaling marketing efforts
Good marketers are and must be busy bees. It is simply lots of work to cover all communication aspects of tech products along the customer journey and build a growing audience through relevant marketing campaigns. Depending on the maturity level of a company we observed different obstacles that come with marketing execution.
- An “one wo/man show” can not cover it all. Not necessarily in regards of work load, but in regards of needed marketing skills. That’s why companies may skip parts of the marketing mix or get stuck in projects that they can not complete. Complementing the marketing person by specialized marketing freelancers is often not taken into account. However, this usually has a huge impact on marketing effectiveness and also budget!
- Larger marketing teams face different kinds of challenges: Often they have produced so much content in the past, that their external appearance became fuzzy. Getting messaging straight is an important exercise to become a consistent brand again.
- Independent of company size and marketing team organization: Continuous smart content recycling for different channels and through time is very often not included in marketing plans. Marketers keep pushing new campaigns, instead of adapting existing material. Nobody follows your marketing work in such detail that they would remember all what you do!
Boosting motivation by sharing responsibility
Marketing and sales are complementary efforts. In practice, B2B tech marketing is a service function for the sales team. There is nothing wrong about that. However, marketers need access to and support from market-facing colleagues to become effective in their share of work. When we started in the tech business 10 years ago, rivalry between marketing and sales teams were predominant. Today, we see often great collaborational spirit:
Smarketing – an integrated marketing and sales approach executed by one team instead of two is becoming real!
Why? A big share of the customer journey moved online. That’s why good marketers need to be good salespeople as well.