By Elizabeth Harr
At my firm, we’re interested in understanding how firms in the technology sector go to market. We recently conducted our third annual survey of technology firms, with a special focus on firms that had the best records of sustained growth. Our hope is that by exploring the differences in how high-growth and no-growth firms go to market, other firms can identify marketing tactics that will better position them for success.
The Marketing Differences Between High-Growth And No-Growth Firms
In our survey, we asked firms to identify which marketing techniques they use, and then compared the responses of the highest-growing firms with those firms that had reported no growth. The results of that analysis for digital and content marketing techniques are shown in Figure 1. I’ll briefly discuss each of these techniques below, listed in order from most to least commonly used by our highest-growing survey respondents.
Figure 1. Digital & Content Marketing Technique Adoption By Growth Category
Networking On Social Media
Social media holds a tremendous amount of potential for making connections with prospects, influencers, and clients. This is the single most-often cited digital marketing technique by firms in general, and the level of usage is almost identical among High-Growth and No-Growth firms. Dialoging in social channels is the online corollary to in-person networking. Once you create online goodwill by commenting on other’s posts and even sharing other non-competitive content, you’ve then earned the “permission” to post your own thought leadership and have it be well received.
Demos (In-Person And Digital)
In-person product demos have long been a go-to marketing technique for technology companies. Digital versions of demos may lack the personal touch — but they make up for that lack in their ability to be sent out to multiple prospects simultaneously. More noteworthy, perhaps, is the fact that more than four times as many High-Growth firms use this technique as No-Growth firms.
Identifying and using strategic keyword phrases on websites and in open access content such as blogs can get complicated very fast. But at its heart, the consistent, strategic use of keywords gradually builds one’s relevance and visibility in website searches, attracting more web traffic and allowing you to gather new leads to nurture. High-Growth firms are about one-and-a-half times more likely to utilize this technique as No-Growth competitors.
Publishing Written Blogs On Their Own Websites
Blog writing can be an extremely efficient way to build your visibility as an industry expert. Our survey found High-Growth firms are almost twice as likely to identify publishing written blogs as a tactic, compared with No-Growth firms. Why are blogs so effective? Because of their open access nature, blogs can be digested in a “no strings attached” manner. And because blogs take minutes to digest, well-written ones are an excellent way for a prospective client to 1) experience your expertise and 2) get a sense for what it might be like to work with you.
Developing Written And Video Case Studies
Case studies can add credibility and impact to a firm’s marketing mix, and once again, High-Growth firms are significantly more likely than No-Growth peers to use this technique. Case studies are promotional in that they demonstrate how you tackled a particular problem with a specified set of circumstances. For that reason, they don’t belong in your library of educational resources. They are better off in the “About” section of your website or even as an independent section all together.
Placing Digital Ads And Creating Downloadable, Gated Content
Digital ads, in all their variations, along with offering downloadable, gated content, are the two next most-widely used techniques of High-Growth firms, and the relative levels of adoption for both techniques are almost identical for High-Growth and No-Growth firms. Digital ads are great for a very specific offering, such as a training event or a premium piece of content — an e-book for example. Most firms don’t get much ROI from digital advertising unless all other systems are in check, i.e. a plethora of educational and informative content and visibility around the brand.
One of the more interesting findings of our survey was that creating market videos had the widest discrepancy, percentage-wise, between High-Growth and No-Growth firms. In fact, High-Growth firms are more than five times more likely to include marketing videos among their digital techniques.
Publishing Guest Blogs On External Publications
Blog writing for external publications can be an extremely efficient way to build one’s credibility and visibility as an industry expert and, as with all of the other techniques listed in the table, High-Growth firms are significantly more likely to include this among their content marketing techniques. If you’re not yet using this technique, a good way to get started is to talk with some prospects and clients about the types of topics and questions they need answered, and find out which sites they frequent in order to keep up with their industry. The next step is to start creating and sharing that content on the best blog site, on an ongoing basis. It’s not easy, but it works.
Conducting And Publishing Original Research
Even though this technique is identified as a favored marketing technique by only 25 percent of High-Growth firms, there is an interesting nuance to our finding: High-Growth firms are more than three-and-a-half times as likely to publish their own research as their No-Growth competitors. The key to using such research in your marketing mix is to focus on topics of interest to your prospects. Then you can analyze and package the results as high-value piece original content to share with prospects as you engage with them more closely.
Finding Your Path
Of course, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and every firm has to find its own way to identify the marketing mix that works best for its particular organization and market. In a field as competitive as tech services, companies need to take every opportunity to gain visibility and market share.
I invite you to download a free copy of our report’s executive summary to learn more.
About The Author
Elizabeth Harr is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, management, communications, and alliance development. Elizabeth co-founded a Microsoft solutions provider company and grew it into a thriving organization that became known for its expertise in Microsoft customer relationship management.