IT Marketing: 6 Things You Need to Know for Growth
For technology services firms, this is a time of tremendous opportunity – and increasingly complex challenges. As the marketplace grows more hypercompetitive than ever before, effective IT marketing becomes absolutely essential.
But which challenges are most pressing for technology services firm, and which initiatives are they prioritizing in order to get ahead? The Hinge Research Institute surveyed 530 professional services firms to better understand the business challenges for IT services firms and give them a competitive edge. The findings revealed powerful insights about the new shape of the IT marketing landscape.
Consider, for example, the top five business challenges cited by technology services firms.
These answers are particularly instructive when compared to results from across other professional services industries. Like firms in other areas, attracting and developing new business is the top priority – and it will only grow more essential as more and more competitors enter the technology marketplace to vie for a limited number of buyers.
There’s a major difference between technology services and other industries, however: the need for innovation ranks much more highly in technology. That should come as no surprise. New ideas are the lifeblood of a technology company today, allowing the organization to continue into the future rather than being supplanted by competitors with similar or better offerings. These findings confirm that in the technology industry, innovation is much more than a buzzword – it’s an urgently felt need, and the foundation of continuing business.
It’s clear that the industry is in flux. So what is driving the transformation of the technology services marketing space
6 Essential IT Marketing Strategies
For technology services firms, there are six key strategies that can help develop a competitive advantage.
By conducting research on your marketplace, you’ll know your clients’ needs and expectations better — which puts you in a position to serve them more effectively. Market research also gives you insight into how your processes are performing. You can develop a more objective, thorough understanding of which aspects of your firm are performing best, as well as insight into which services you should offer.
This is a philosophy that should be familiar to many in the technology services industry: with more data, you can make more effective decisions. Our own research has shown that firms that conduct systematic research on their prospects and clients grow three to ten times faster – and are up to two times more profitable.
2. An Impressive Website
In the past, many tech firms grew by word of mouth. The technology almost sold itself, so they didn’t have to market much – which is why many tech firms have poor websites with poor user experiences.
These days, though, particularly in the technology services industry, your website must be impressive. For clients, it is a direct indicator of your credibility. Our research on referral marketing shows that an unimpressive website is among the top reasons that buyers rule out referrals.
But your website isn’t just a tool to help you avoid getting ruled out. It serves as the hub for your online presence, joining expert content, explanation of your services, social media platforms, and more. That’s why, according to our research, 80% of buyers use your website to check you out – making your website the most common source for information about your firm.
Remember, too, that your website has to look impressive however it is displayed, whether on a phone or a tablet or a desktop. Mobile browsing has become so important that Google is making mobile-friendliness a factor in search rankings. For these reasons, you should ensure that your site leverages responsive design to adapt to the form factor of a visitor’s device.
3. Cultivating Visible Experts®
Remember the importance of client education? In addition to satisfying an audience demand, producing educational content helps build the profile of individual experts within your firm. In fact, this process is essential for technology firms. By building the profile of professionals within your firm, they can eventually become Visible Experts – the sort of industry rock stars who headline conferences, attract both business and talent, and come to define a firm.
Visible Experts are such a powerful asset because of the “Halo Effect.” When audiences view one of your experts as authoritative, that glow transfers to the firm as a whole. Your firm’s increased status transfers in turn to other individual professionals within the organization, who can use the added credibility to build their reputations as Visible Experts. It’s a positive feedback loop, and it’s a powerful advantage for technology services firms.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Like the technology services marketplace as a whole, SEO is constantly evolving – and it’s crucial to keep up. Yesterday’s best practices can become today’s cause for penalty. But in a hypercompetitive environment where visibility is critical, effective use of SEO is mandatory.
What do firms need to know about SEO? The key is this: “on-site” SEO (in a nutshell) increases your site’s relevance through strategic use of targeted keyword phrases associated with your services and expertise, in combination with a strong technical SEO foundation on your website.
“Off-site” SEO increases your site’s perceived authority through earned links, social media, brand mentions, and external thought leadership pieces like guest articles. For a more detailed plan of action, we’ve developed an SEO strategy for B2B firms.
5. Content Marketing
Again and again, we return to educational content – and that’s because it is the engine behind your entire IT marketing strategy. In fact, the “content funnel” is key for IT services marketing, attracting relevant audiences and working to drive closer and closer engagements that qualify leads and ultimately generate new business.
Content marketing encompasses a variety of content types across a variety of channels, including your own web properties – your website, blog, and social media presences – as well as other web properties. Through media, professional partners, content syndication, and guest blogging, you can spread your expertise to a range of new audiences.
And this is the core goal of content marketing. By educating target audiences and addressing their challenges through content, you will build credibility and visibility that will ultimately lead to new business and to growth.
6. Social Media
It’s a fact: social media is a key factor in the growth of B2B firms. It’s an essential channel for not only networking with people in the marketplace and participating in industry conversation, but also sharing your content and driving engagement with your audience.
As we discussed previously, a more mature social media environment means new challenges, and drives the need for new rules. In order to take advantage of the benefits of social media, IT services firms must learn how to do it effectively. At its best, social media is an environment to demonstrate your leadership in the industry while engaging with other expert content and sharing your own.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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