You’ve done the hard part. You’ve created a piece of software or an online platform that provides a distinct benefit, works (most of the time), and is experiencing moderate adoption. As far as you’re concerned, the offering is bulletproof, and you might even say (but please don’t), revolutionary.
If only more people knew about it…
So how do you go from a stable offering to mass awareness and adoption?
Many factors contribute to high-growth tech companies, and effective marketing is among the top. However, as NPR aptly points out, marketing is often overlooked in technology. Is growth reflective of the best product? Not necessarily. More often, it’s the result of a well-applied sales and marketing strategy.
So clear your whiteboard—let’s get to work! Once you have the proper marketing infrastructure (people, process, systems and budget) in place, consider adding the following marketing methods to the mix:
Invest in Strategic Public Relations
There is no better way to maintain a steady stream of awareness-generating news than deploying a comprehensive yet targeted public relations strategy. Developing key messaging, generating newsworthy press releases to keep “ink on the street,” actively conducting relevant and timely media outreach around releases and milestones; serving as an expert source, and adding your voice to trending topics in the news (newsjacking) are all ingredients to keeping your brand front and center. However, a blast approach is never recommended. Find your people. What are they reading? Forgo the spaghetti approach of throwing news out to see what sticks. Get to know your target publications, what they are writing and how you can add value. Your product may be the bee’s knees, but unless you can clearly articulate your company’s unique value proposition (UVP) and what makes it different from the scads of other startups, it’s unlikely that a journalist will be interested in writing about your product alone. Instead, cultivate real stories that make your product relevant to the media outlet’s readership. Enter: customer marketing.
Leverage Customer Marketing
Who better to demonstrate the impact of your product than its users? Customer or peer marketing in the software and technology world provides a powerful and tangible endorsement for your offering that no one else is qualified to provide. Not to mention, playing back to #1, media want to hear from your CTO, but they love hearing from your customers. They want the real story from Rick in maintenance about how your hotel management software helped the company save thousands of dollars by automatically storing warranty information, saving the hotel from bankruptcy. How your platform made online benefits enrollment a breeze. In fact, most Wall Street Journal reporters require an anecdote to help personify and validate the story. So how do you facilitate this lovefest? First, you need to be in touch with your customer base to capture these great stories. From there, develop a case study that demonstrates the challenge, solutions and results, with an emphasis on hard ROI. The case study can be used on your website, in media relations, in place of a reference call, captured as a video testimonial, sent to customers, featured on a panel at a trade show, submitted as part of an award nomination, etc. Bonus: Taking the concept of peer marketing a bit further, consider holding a customer event where you feature and honor successful customers and invite prospects to join the club. If you really want to move the needle, create an incentive program to encourage customer referrals. When is the last time you made a major purchase without consulting a friend? In B2B tech marketing, peer recommendations rule!
Lead with Content
Content marketing as defined by the Content Marketing Institute is the the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action. In summary: Create awesome content, gate said content, drive more leads. (Rinse, repeat.)
As opposed to earned media (PR), or paid media (advertising), content marketing falls into the category of owned media (which then integrates across all channels). To drive leads and bring prospects into your marketing funnel, which eventually should focus more on demand for your product or service as a prospect “warms up,” create content that your audience is hungry for. The content can be as simple as a tip sheet or how-to all the way to an in-depth, data-driven research study. The format may play out on the blog, via social media, a bylined article, a webinar or speaking engagement.
Thoughtfully developed content provides the perfect base upon which to launch a thought leadership program for your key spokespeople. What are some areas of expertise that you can own and that your prospects are seeking out? By positioning your company as the authority on relevant subjects, you are both building your brand and bringing prospects into the fold.
Engage on Social Media
Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites, up from 7% when Pew Research Center began systematically tracking social media usage in 2005. According to eMarketer, nine out of ten companies are active on social networks. What these stats (while impressive) don’t tell us is how they are using it. Social media seems to be an obvious channel to engage as a tech company, but can be quite ineffective if not resourced properly. If social media is managed properly as a tool to engage influencers, customers and prospects, your efforts will pay off in spades. Social media platforms are a great way to get that 1:1 interaction that your customers are craving. By cultivating purpose-driven engaging content, deploying targeted social advertising and actively managing your community 24/7, you can build your brand and drive conversions in a highly personalized way. The key is making it a two-way conversation focused on meaningful results (measurable calls-to-action) vs. shallow engagement focused on boosting vanity metrics (likes, retweets, etc.).
Before applying these newfound marketing tactics, it’s imperative that both your product and team can handle an influx in leads. As you embark on your new marketing strategy, take note of what resonates and what doesn’t with your existing customers and new prospects. From there, calibrate your strategy until you find the right marketing mix.
Have questions or want to see how Lou Hammond Group can put tech marketing strategies to work for you? Contact us today.