Marketing Strategy for Tech Consulting Firms — A Mystery No More
By David Smith
A marketing strategy is necessary if you want to grow your business with predictable and repeatable marketing results. Whether you are a large consulting company or small, your firm does some type of marketing. That can be as simple as asking for referrals from existing clients or sophisticated lead generation campaigns.
Unfortunately, Marketing Strategy is a widely used term. It’s also a widely misunderstood term.
The purpose of this article is to remove the doubt and confusion associated with the concept of a Marketing Strategy for Tech Consulting Firms.
Before we get to the root of marketing strategy, let’s establish what “marketing” means.
What is the definition of marketing?
Some business owners believe marketing is a website, or sales collateral, or working a trade show or asking for referrals. Yes, those things are all involved in marketing, but they are just singular actions or tactics.
Marketing can be defined as “getting someone who has a need, to know, like, trust, contact, and refer you.”
That “need” could be software or system implementation, training, business optimization consulting, application development or maintenance, enterprise modernization or any of the other services and solutions tech consulting firms like yours offer.
Successful tech consulting firms have learned that authority (trust), is the primary success factor for successful lead generation and growth; two of the primary outcomes of marketing. That’s why the “Know, Like, and Trust” steps of the marketing progression are critically important.
Once you have trust, the outcome of demonstrated authority, you want that “contact” to be a request for help. This is the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and authority on a subject.
Now that we have a simple to understand the definition of marketing, let’s define marketing strategy.
What is Marketing Strategy?
In its simplest form, a marketing strategy describes who you want as a customer and what value you provide them.
A more robust form reads like this: A marketing strategy is an integrated set of marketing definitions, directions, approaches, and objectives used to achieve the sales and growth goals of the business.
The marketing strategy narrows the marketing focus by answering the question of what you do (message and value proposition), who cares (target marketing and ideal customer), and how you’ll deliver the message to the audience (customer experience, content, channels, and calendar).
A marketing strategy for a tech consulting firm should provide a describe your firms’ value in a clear message, who you would like to be your customers and the experience you will create to get the ideal customer to Know, Like, Trust, and Engage your firm.
For those that expected marketing strategy to take the form of business goals, I’m sorry to disappoint you. A marketing strategy isn’t the plan to increase revenue by 200% or to add 50 new customers in the next twelve months. Those are clearly business goals and should influence the marketing strategy, but marketing strategy they are not.
Now that we have defined marketing strategy, let’s look closely at the elements involved.
What are the Elements of a Marketing Strategy?
A tech consulting firm marketing strategy should include these elements;
The profile of the customer likely to receive the greatest value and provide the most significant economic impact on the firm. While there are many customers you could do business with; this profile indicates the customers you “want’ to do business with.
Using a four quadrants chart (Coordinate Plane), with the X-axis as those customers with the potential to lead you to others, and the Y-axis as those customers that have a significant impact to your firm’s economic future, the ideal customer is “top right”, Quadrant I. The customers that appear in this quadrant indicate future business and considerable revenue.
The ideal customer profile is listed first because (a) it provides context to the other elements in the marketing strategy and (b) ideal customers can be up to 16 times more profitable than “average” customers. (It’s an 80/20 Rule idea explained by Perry Marshall)
Message / Differentiator
Your firm’s message needs to clearly state the value you offer the customer and emphasize the difference between your firm and others that state they provide the same.
The difference you offer can be described as extraordinary expertise (authority), a unique approach, a specialized set of skills, or a few differentiating elements that set your firm apart from others.
Your firm’s brand is defined in the marketing strategy as the brand promise (the unique outcome you offer customers), and also the elements that represent your brand; logo, colors, fonts, tag line, about statement, and other unique representations of your firm.
The customer experience is a significant component of the marketing strategy. The CX defines the buying process, value obtainment, and overall satisfaction of the customer, along with the proactive steps your firm takes to ensure these are positive experiences.
A significant element of the CX definition is the buying process map that identifies the sequential steps your prospects make and the associated evidence, supporting content, emotional outcomes, and next steps along their journey. The more you understand about how your customers find solutions, analyze alternatives, and make buying decisions, the better the opportunity to influence the outcomes of each step.
Valens Point uses the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass customer experience description as the outline for customer interaction and experience. The Marketing Hourglass comprises seven unique steps: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer.
Content is said to be the “voice of strategy.” Content builds authority, proactively answers questions, and reduces friction in the buying process.
The content component of your marketing strategy identifies the content you need to supply your audience along the customer journey. This includes content that educates and informs, builds trust, reduces buyer’s remorse, and encourages further engagement.
Now that we have identified the elements of a marketing strategy, we can turn our attention to how the strategy is developed.
How is a Marketing Strategy developed?
The marketing strategy of a tech consulting firm is developed using a combination of research and analysis.
Research is conducting to access the SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threats) of the firm and also the customers that will be most likely receive value from the services of the firm.
The focus of the research is on the internal elements of the firm, for example, technical authority compared to others in the market, the opportunities for growth, and significant obstacles.
The research influences the ideal customer, message, differentiator, and brand representation of the marketing consulting firm.
An analysis is performed to determine the role of customer experience and content in the buying process. The emphasis is on understanding the influences and preferences of the ideal customer. The outcome of the analysis is the identification of the marketing channels and content most relevant to the audience.
Channels most often used by tech consulting firms are a website, email, social media, events, SEO, public relations.
The content mix of tech consulting companies includes website content, articles, videos, customer success stories, and in-depth material like eBooks and white papers. Additional content in the form of audio, webinars, infographics, and podcasts can also be valuable, depending on the preferences of the ideal customer.
The product of the development activity defines the elements in as much detail as necessary to communicate the strategy to all involved, including executives, sales, marketing, staff, and external consultants and service providers.
The research and analysis efforts can develop your firm’s offers: products, services, solutions, packages, etc., and also insights into pricing.
The Marketing Strategy document can be a Word Document or PowerPoint, Google Doc or Sheet, or whatever works best for your firm and team.
The critical point is actually to document the results of your works.
CoSchedule reports that Marketers with a documented strategy are 313% more likely to report success.
Once the research and analysis phase of development is completed, a marketing plan, budget, and calendar can be developed. The plan outlines the activities performed, responsible parties, and the expected results.
The results are expressed in terms of goals that support the business goals of the firm. Strategic examples include:
- Identification of sales qualified leads, a leading indicator to increased sales and revenue,
- Growth of prospects that can be nurtured into leads,
- Increases in contacts that may transition to prospects.
The marketing budget and calendar outline the expected monetary cost and when actions will be performed.
How is a Marketing Strategy used?
The marketing strategy is used to establish the direction and boundaries of your marketing efforts.
The definitions serve as guardrails, keeping your marketing activities focused on the right target audience and activity.
The plan, budget, and calendar serve as management tools for the execution of your marketing activities and goals.
The marketing strategy and plan are essential tools for clarifying and communicating your marketing direction, approach, objectives, and measurements.
The marketing strategy for tech consulting firms need not be a mystery. It can be a well thought out approach to selling more of your solutions and services.
While it does require concentration and effort to create a marketing strategy, the benefits far outweigh the cost. The benefits include accelerated growth with ideal customers, measurable progress, happier customers and staff, less waste of money and time, and the elimination fruitless efforts to make tactics the priority rather than strategy, and
Do you need help with marketing strategy? Schedule a call today to speak with the Valens Point team.
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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.