5 Tech Consulting Marketing Predictions for 2021


By David Smith

As 2020 finally comes to a close (audible emotional responses are appropriate here – “Finally!”, “Thank God it’s over”, or “Hell Yes! We made it!”), tech consulting firms should look at their marketing system, make updates, and get ready for the New Year.

Generally speaking, your tech consulting marketing needs to be periodically updated. Revisions should be made based on what’s working and what’s not. That’s just common sense and practical. (And yes – marketing can be based on common sense.)   But, 2020 may have clouded our perspective on what was working and what wasn’t working. Common sense evaluation of past performance may not yield clarity and could result in injury when recovery is needed.

As an optimist, I believe the close of 2020 offers an extraordinary opportunity to make marketing changes and leverage momentum to grow in 2021.

My optimism is founded on analysis, evaluation, and some educated guesses. As you evaluate your tech consulting firms’ marketing and adjust your plans, budgets, and schedules, consider these marketing predictions for 2021.

Prediction #1: Demand for Tech Consulting Services Will Rise in 2021

In a recent report, Gartner states that IT spending will grow four percent (4%) in 2021. Notably, enterprise software and data center spending lead the increases with 7.2 and 5.2 respectively. I believe this indicates an increase in tech consulting demand to mirror these areas of spending.

The organizations making these investments will look to outside expertise or deploy internal resources to projects in those areas, lessening their ability to serve their internal clients. Both situations should increase demand for tech consulting firms that are capable of helping these organizations.

Action: Update your marketing strategy, management, and execution capabilities.

Prediction #2: In-person events won’t return to the pre – COVID attendance until 2022.

 A recent survey by event industry leader Global DMC Partners suggests that expectations for in-person (face-to-face) meetings returning to pre-COVID attendance levels are low. In fact, their survey indicates that nearly 75% of respondents from the meetings and events industry say their 2021 events are planned as virtual or hybrid.  If your firm has in the past depended on events and conferences for brand awareness and lead generation, you’ll have another year to sharpen your networking skills.

In an article on their website, Meetings Net states that 2021s’ smaller percentage of face-to-face events will be scaled back. Events that had thousands of attendees may go forward with severe limitations and strict social distancing rules.  Suppose your tech consulting firm is small and not high on the technology providers’ partner ladder. In that case, you probably won’t be receiving the invitation to the annual events that are now even more exclusive.

 Action: Ensure your marketing strategy elements are on point (the right audience and the right message) so the impact of missed in person events will be less.

Prediction #3: Virtual event fatigue will increase

As a result of Prediction #2 (events pushed until 2022), many companies will continue to focus on virtual events. Zoom, On24, LiveStream, WebEx, GoToWebinar, and other virtual event opportunities will continue to fill our inboxes and those of your prospects and customers.

Your audience has more choices for virtual events than they have time. (You can relate to that yourself!)

According to this article on Event Manager, FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), which drove attendance to past live and virtual events, is declining. No one wants to hear and see the same things over and over. The overabundance of virtual opportunities is beating down curiosity.

Virtual event fatigue will continue to increase, and live event attendance numbers will continue to decline.

Action: Don’t give up on virtual events – just make them better. Your events will need to rise above the noise and ensure your audience receives a value. Don’t waste their time, and they’ll appreciate you more.

Prediction #4: Marketing activity to recruit top talent will increase

The tech consulting firm with the best ability to demonstrate expertise will be highly sought after and earn premium fees. Demonstrating expertise is easier when your firm has recognized thought leaders and technical authorities.

Your firm’s ability to attract and hire top talent is critical. Marketing is, of course, applied to gain new prospects and customers, but it can also be used to attract the best people in your focus area. In fact, marketing to top talent could become a competitive advantage.

Action: Include talent in your audience mix and allocate a portion of your marketing budget to attract the top people in your field.

Prediction #5: Marketing tactics will ruin many consulting firm marketing budgets in 2021

There will always be the marketing “specialist” that guarantees their marketing tactic of choice will cure all your marketing problems.

Are you having a tough time attracting new prospects? You need “this” social media tool, or “that” video platform, or “these” magic marketing beans. Buy our SEO package, and we will have you at the number one (1) position in Google in 3 months or less! The examples and combinations are endless, and these marketing experts have likely pitched you. 

Jumping from one tactic to another doesn’t solve your prospect attraction problem. In fact, buying into this tactic-driven approach will deplete your marketing budget, and you’ll have very little to show for it. Think of marketing as a system comprised of strategy, management, and execution, and you will not end 2021 with zeros in your marketing budget and no benefit from your investment.

Action: Invest in strategic marketing: strengthening your brand, developing marketing assets, producing quality content, and demonstrating expertise instead of throwing dollars at marketing tactics.

Technology consulting firms will continue to face challenges in 2021. The calendar changing doesn’t erase the impact of the pandemic and the forces disrupting our customers’ information technology environments. Instead, the New Year offers opportunities and advantages. It’s up to you to capitalize on those opportunities and secure your firms’ position into the future.

I hope these predictions help you think about the coming year and see opportunities where others might see the hardship. If you want to talk through your thoughts and ideas – let’s schedule a call. I’ve learned many things in 2020, including the more we reach out and talk to each other – the better off we are.

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