How Tech Consulting Firms Can Stay Strong During (and After) the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tech consulting firms are not beyond the reach of COVID-19’s impact. There will be firms that survive (thrive?) and yes, there will be firms that will no longer be viable. This pandemic will reshape the tech consulting ecosystem.
Firms that have failed to manage customer concentration risk (reliance on one or two customers for the majority of their revenue) will have a much tougher time surviving the economic downturn than those that have built a balanced portfolio of customers across industry and technology boundaries.
Firms that have invested in building a marketing system that successfully identifies new prospects and leads and helps converts those leads into clients will reap the dividends in the post-pandemic economy.
Here are four tips to help your firm stay strong during (and after) the pandemic impact.
Think long-term momentum, not short-term reaction.
Everyone wants to concentrate on the here and now. But, we need to prepare for what happens after the pandemic too. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) study of the recession of 2007 indicates that the most successful companies after the recession made smart long-term decisions during the crisis. The companies with post-recession success didn’t react with hyper cost and human resource cuts (prevention), nor did they ignore the perils of the financial situation (promotion). The successful companies found a balance of strategic decisions that included both prevention and promotion. They employed long-term thinking.
Not cutting costs or continuing to marketing, as usual, doesn’t mean survival is assured. The HBR study reported 85% of market leaders get dislodged during a recession. That means there is an opportunity for firms that weather the storm and think long term.
Tech consulting firm marketing is a strategic business system to elevate your firms’ brand to thought-leader status. It requires constant exposure to your audience. If you fade away during times of adversity, your brand will suffer and may have a hard time recovering the audience’s mindshare.
Short term reactions like severely cutting marketing budgets or obstructing marketing momentum will have lasting impacts. Your firm will be better after the pandemic fades if you think strategically and long-term.
Prepare to Update Your Marketing Strategy
Gartner Vice President Augie Ray states in a recent article entitled Adapt Your Marketing Strategy for COVID-19, “Among marketing’s greatest challenges is foreseeing how the customers’ wants, needs, expectations, and purchasing decisions will evolve. Customers themselves won’t know until COVID-19 infections, fears, and restrictions occur in their workplaces, locales, and lives.”
Your ideal customers’ preferences, motivation, and influence sources will change during and after the pandemic period. Your audiences’ online engagement, email marketing response, and social media consumption are likely to rise as these become the foundation of interaction in the months ahead.
These changes will affect your marketing strategy. The ideal customer personas you have relied upon may soon be outdated. Your message may need to be reviewed, tested, and modified.
Your customer experience (CX) and channel usage will need to be updated and improved. Content, both evergreen and new, will need to be evaluated.
Changes to your marketing strategy should begin as soon as you identify changes in customer preference or can gather intelligence via research and interactions. Test your long-held assumptions, listen carefully to what your customers say, and watch what your audience does in response to this pandemic. Then update your marketing strategy and your marketing plans accordingly.
Invest in virtual events and content production
Live events and meetings are grinding to a halt. National, regional, and even local gatherings are now going virtual. Your firm needs to participate in this event shift by planning and hosting virtual events.
How will you make that leap into virtual events successfully? By producing new, relevant, and interesting content for your audience. If you are promoting events that feature old or routinely covered subjects, you won’t draw an audience or provide much value. Thought leadership and expertise are needed to engage during virtual events.
Building and using marketing assets now will allow you to gain a leg up on competitors during the post-pandemic phase. The CMO Council reports that 88 percent of the respondents to a business buyers survey believe online content influences their vendor selection. That’s why creating project summaries, case studies, and experienced-based content will allow your staff to contribute to future success.
Content creation also boosts staff confidence and provides a sense of contribution when some may feel disconnected. Producing content that demonstrates their expertise, their impact, and the value they bring to your customers is good and valuable work.
Lean into Relationships
Relationships are the cornerstone of the tech consulting firm’s business model. Your business model might depend on the land/expand model or leverage referrals to gain business. Both rely heavily on relationships to grow your firm. But the work isn’t done when you signed a new account. You now have to deliver success with your engagement team; consultants and managers.
Big Compass, an integration consulting firm client of Valens Point, relies on their raison d ‘être: building connections in a disconnected world, to lean into their relationships. The firm focuses its efforts on connecting with its staff, with unified teams of customer resources and their consultants, their technology partners, and with their customers. These connections help them sustain market volatility and heighten their customer’s integration success.
Your clients may rely on your team even more during the stressful times of this pandemic. Ensure their success by leaning in, utilizing your engagement and customer managers to strengthen existing relationships. In this article, written by customer engagement expert Lisa Nakano and posted on the SiriusDecisions blog, the author recommends increasing the frequency of contact and asking for more direct feedback. These two actions will help your firm respond to customers better and propel you to stronger relationships.
Every business will face response decisions. None of us will get through the COVID-19 crisis unscathed. But we can prepare for the future now by making decisions that are strategic, balanced, and consider long-term strength.
Are you unsure of what marketing changes you need to make? Let’s talk through your alternatives and plan a course of action.
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We help technology services organizations grow by putting into action a marketing system containing the right balance of strategy, technology, process, and expertise that will get results.