Copyright © 2012 by Monica Paul
Three basic rules to follow that could lead SMB executives to get an effective marketing strategy.
In my almost 20 years working with big IT corporations, I have seen many small and medium companies, mostly IT integrators, trying to be included into the vendors’ marketing campaigns. I have listened to them saying that making marketing is out of their budgets and reach, out of their possibilities; an activity impossible to afford. I have seen them watch the vendor’s campaigns as children in front of the toy store gallery; looking how the corporations position their brands and trying to get some advantage of this.
But guess what? Beyond the wide budgets, the experts, techniques, procedures, and methodologies are the creativity, the initiative, and lots of common sense.
Creativity, initiative, common sense and some time invested in creating a brand can lead a company to position in its markets; there are only three basic rules to follow:
1. Focus your efforts on your actual clients, prospects and target market.
Many new technologies are now affordable to the SMB in its Cloud mode; this opens a wide new opportunities universe; however it is important to consider that technologies as CRM, business intelligence (BI), and managed IT services have been historically solutions used by big companies and corporations with elevated costs in implementations and required infrastructure; in addition to and infinite quantity of modules and features not needed by SMBs and taking them out of their reach, making them feel as a child wearing his Dad’s suit.
It is necessary make the SMBs business men look at these tools as affordable ones to them, making them realize the benefits at their reach always into their own and unique operational universe.
Why should this or that company pay select my offering? Why the client should prefer my products and services instead of my competitors’? What makes me different? Replying to these questions is the same as being able to analyze the business to which you are willing to approach. The marketing strategy must be always 100% focused in the client, their needs and objectives.
A clear example of a client focused strategy is demonstrated by the company Sports World, www.sportsworld.com.mx, that includes their customers in decisions related with the gym’s schedules and services. They do this through simple surveys that their customers are free to respond, getting the opportunity to be part of the organization’s decisions.
2. Be obsessive with your brand.
Vendors struggle to position their brands, and think that integrators can position from the brands they resell is a common mistake. How long are Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec, Dell, and Oracle distribution channels? Even smaller vendors as Citrix, MicroStrategy or Kaseya have large distribution channel chains worldwide. How many integrators distribute one or several brands? This leads to another question: What makes my company different from the other integrators?
I had the opportunity to make the case study of an integrator business in Mexico City. ISO Tecnologia, www.iso-tec.com.mx, started and managed by Jose Jaramillo Vazquez. At ISO Tecnologia they integrate technology products and services with leading brands devices and software providing high performance and quality solutions to their clients; but right after the implementation they provide a wide range of automated IT managed services, including technical support, inventory, maintenance and many others. ISO Tecnologia has given these services a brand: ‘VITS’.
VITS is ISO Tecnologia’s service brand, Jose Jaramillo offers VITS, sells VITS, and delivers VITS. Clients receive a high quality service and results from VITS. Therefore ISO Tecnologia is free to evaluate, choose, or change the tools they use to give their service without harming or compromising their positioning, as any change they do is an intern decision and clients don’t even perceive it. This positions the brands ISO Tecnologia / VITS with a strong differentiator amongst their competitors.
Creating products and services with own name and image are key elements in an effective marketing strategy and the business differentiation amongst their competitors. The high quality and brand of the resold products are a positive support; but the services provided have the business seal, therefore it is a must to make sure they would be remembered by the clients, and a well design brand will help the companies to achieve this.
3. Promote your main benefits and differentiate
Thanks to the new technologies, all companies have access to a wide range of useful tools to promote their products and services with affordable and cost/effective tools and techniques; some can be even taken as in-house activities with no cost. Once again, creativity, initiative and common sense are needed. The focus, the message and an attractive image are key to succeed.
First step is to define the message to clients and to prospects; these messages – text and image – will define your brand. Also it’s important to define the messages that will be describing your company, your team, and the benefits you offer with your products and services. Remember to always focus on the client needs. Why should the clients and consumers choose my brand over the others? What is making me different from my competitors? The objective answer to these questions will help you to define the messages you need.
Pay special attention to your website, make sure you are in the first search positions, link it to your social media, become a blogger, an expert in your area, participate in groups, keep your company active in the social media and to the audience sight. If possible get some advertising in the internet, it is cheaper and more effective, so look for your target media, and ask for some advertising content support.
Avoid sending massive email blasts, there are too many already, and this could lead your brand directly to the spam folder and you domain to the black lists. Instead, be selective and focused, send the email with a phone call just to the companies you consider that could be your clients and also develop a mobile strategy from your website, this way you will be reaching them from every angle.
Marketing 1-to-1 is a perfect complement to the electronic efforts; go to every event you can, talk with your clients and prospects, have always your presentation cards at a hand, and include your logo, email, phone number and social media in your email signature. All these tools working in orchestra will lead you for sure to increase your brand positioning and your sales pipeline too.
These are three simple steps that can help any small and medium company to develop an efficient marketing strategy and lead you to position your brand and increase your sales. Consider the benefits and also consider that your competitors might already be doing it.