When it comes to marketing, tech services firms are often hesitant to believe it can support business growth in a relationship-driven industry. They say things like, “It’s about who you know, not how many emails you send,” and “SEO can’t close a million-dollar deal.”
Tech services marketing requires strategic thinking, a creative approach, and a focus on demonstrating a firm’s expertise and credibility. Services, unlike products, are intangible and buyers can only fully understand the full scope of a firm’s expertise after engaging with them. We tell our clients, “For all the models, methodologies, and approaches you can provide, in the end, clients are essentially buying you—your expertise, your IP, and your brand.” In light of that, tech services marketing must focus on both your services and the people behind them.
Historically, many professional services firms relied almost entirely on referrals to drive new business. Though referral marketing can be incredibly effective, it is not wise to rely on that as the only form of marketing. It’s important to consider a well-rounded approach to marketing that focuses on three pillars:
For tech services marketing, we add a fourth pillar:
In this post, we’ll explore each of these pillars as they relate to professional services.
How can you position yourself as unique in a sea of tech services firms? Building credibility through brand awareness is the most effective approach. In fact, 81% of buyers are more likely to engage with a salesperson if their company is well-known and has a strong professional brand.
Though they may not realize it, emerging professional services firms are often in the decision set alongside larger firms like McKinsey, Accenture, and Bain, as organizations weigh many options when they’re looking for support. One of these options can be choosing a partner that is small and agile or a larger firm with proven stability and experience. How can you differentiate and stand out amongst your more well-known counterparts? Build credibility with marketing programs that focus on brand awareness, like social media, thought leadership, and partnerships.
Keep in mind that brand awareness is not a “one and done” effort—stick with it. Remember, it takes 5-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand.
Demand generation refers to targeted marketing programs that help drive interest in your solution and deliver leads to Sales. For tech services marketing, it’s important to have a deep understanding of how and why purchasing decisions are made. First and foremost, you need to target the right person within the organization. Then you need to stay top of mind so that you are on their radar when they make purchase decisions. In order to accomplish this, your marketing efforts should be multi-channel and consistent, engaging prospects via email, social media, digital advertising, events, media outlets, and more.
It’s also important to ensure that your sales and marketing technologies are set up to deliver leads to Sales, allowing them to contact hot leads immediately and nurture those that are not yet ready to purchase. Consistent nurturing often pays off down the line.
The term sales enablement refers to providing your sales team with the information, tools, processes, and materials needed to sell effectively. This approach is particularly important for professional services firms who often don’t have a dedicated sales team and rely on their leadership to bring in new business. As you might expect, these leaders are often not sales experts and can benefit from a partner (marketing) to provide guidance on how to enhance their sales efforts. Marketing can ensure that sales presentations and collateral align with client needs.
For more information on how marketing can enhance the sales team’s efforts, check out our eBook, Sales Enablement Marketing: How to Leverage B2B Social Selling to Reach Your Prospects.
As we mentioned earlier, the tech services industry is relationship-oriented, so marketing is most effective when it’s focused on building your networks through thought leadership, social selling, partnerships, and events. In addition, every person on your team who touches the customer experience journey must understand selling tactics, which means communicating your firm’s value proposition and thinking in terms of upselling and/or cross-selling your services.
Aligning with like-minded businesses can be a great way to expand your network. Establish relationships with referral partners who share your target audience (either within your industry or tangential to it). One of our clients has utilized partnerships to improve brand visibility in a highly competitive industry via a co-developed and co-marketed content series. This effort gained them credibility and exposure to new audiences, which has led to new leads. Remember, when looking for recommendations on products and services, 76% of B2B buyers prefer to work with vendors recommended by someone they know.
In professional services, there is a constant struggle between sales and delivery. When the scale tips too far towards selling, your client teams are overwhelmed. When it tips too far towards delivery, you’re playing catch up to fill the funnel. Marketing can help balance things out—tech service marketing done right can be extremely rewarding. Your brand awareness will grow along with your credibility, earning you a spot in the decision set with other, more well-known firms. You’ll also earn high-quality leads and optimize sales materials in a way that allows anyone on your team to quickly change hats and become an effective salesperson. You’ll build relationships with partners that enhance your industry knowledge and help you to more effectively target prospective clients. When all of these pieces come together (and they will if you choose the right marketing partner), you’ll have the fuel to drive your business in exciting new directions.
If you’d like more guidance on optimizing your tech services marketing efforts, check out our new eBook called “A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Find the Best Professional Services Marketing Partner” or contact us directly to find out how we can help.