The Three Components of An Effective Tech Consulting Firm Marketing System
Tech consulting firms require an effective marketing system to thrive and grow. Without an effective marketing system, firms stagnate and fail to attract new customers, increasing the risk of customer concentration. Without an effective marketing system, firms experience the lows of not having any future opportunities to expand their business and the highs of having too many opportunities to pursue. It’s feast or famine.
What is an effective marketing system?
John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing describes the purpose of a marketing system for small business this way: “A system creates control, a system guides priority, a system creates process, a system generates accountability and a way to measure and win the game.”
While those fundamentals hold true for both small businesses and for tech consulting firms, the description of purpose lacks a structure that helps to get to these purposes.
Valens Point’s definition of an effective marketing system: The use of marketing strategy, management, and execution to produces consistent and repeatable results.
The consistent and repeatable results are the obvious things like leads and opportunities, but also could be asset production or measurable engagement. Those results would be relative to the growth phase of your consulting firm and marketing capabilities.
If you have no marketing system in place, establishing a foundation for future success would be associated with consistent and repeated success: Did we create and publish four pieces of content? Did we conduct a monthly webinar? Getting the fundamentals in place is a prerequisite to future marketing success.
If your firm has a foundation in place, consistent and repeatable results might be represented by the growth of contacts, identification of leads and opportunity, and conversion of leads to customers.
It is essential for your firm to assess the maturity and success of your marketing capability honestly.
What are the components of an effective marketing system?
The marketing system of your firm must have three, tightly coupled components to be effective: Strategy, Management, and Execution.
When marketing is discussed, most people think first of websites, or social media, or advertisement. While those tactics of execution may be relevant for your business, we believe strategy comes first. Our motto is: Strategy Before Tactics.
Companies with a documented strategy are 313% more likely to report marketing success than those who don’t have a documented strategy. If you fail to address the strategy component and jump directly into tactical actions, you’re likely to fail – which means wasting dollars, time, and negatively affecting your firm.
The strategy component of the system requires research and analysis. Research involves understanding ideal (not just ordinary) customers.
A marketing strategy seeks to define what messages resonate with your ideal customer, what criteria are considered in the buying process, how they research consulting firms, what type(s) of content they consume, and how they want to be engaged.
Research involves your competition, your existing content, and the firm’s existing marketing channels (social, email, web, etc.). This information reveals insight about the “brand” and what brand elements need to be developed or refined to conform to ideal customer expectations.
The Marketing Strategy includes:
- Ideal customer description (persona)
- A message that resonates with prospects
- Brand and branding elements that represent the business
- A customer experience that ensures customer success
- Content that supports the customer experience
- Channels you’ll use to deliver the experience
- Goals and measures that align with business goals
Here’s the payoff of marketing strategy: If you know more about your prospects and customers than your competitors and can convert that knowledge into marketing strategy and plans, you will dominate.
Once you have a defined strategy, you have to then establish the management of your marketing system.
Marketing management is the most underappreciated aspect of tech consulting marketing success. If you are a firm owner or principal, you have probably attempted to manage marketing technicians: web site developers, SEO specialists, social media experts, PPC firms, and multiple types of content providers. You are well aware of the time and expense it requires to manage all of these resources.
Marketing management removes this burden and bottleneck.
Management answers these questions:
- what we will do,
- how we will do it,
- when we will do it,
- who will do what,
- how much we will invest, and
- how we will measure and report progress.
Management sets priorities, creates the marketing plan, outlines the marketing calendar, develops the marketing budget, and establishes the reporting and refinement cadence.
An important responsibility of management is to support the Sales team in the conversion of a prospect to a customer by identifying the content (e.g., customer experience) that improves prospect to customer conversion success.
Prospect conversion should be a carefully orchestrated effort of sales and marketing. Successful and mature firms know that brute force conversion tactics (“just get me in front of a prospect”) are a thing of the past. Consulting firm buyers and decision-makers are educated, informed, and capable of doing competitive research. Firms should support personalities with marketing assets.
Marketing Management defines and monitors the goals and actions of the marketing execution team. Once a plan is in place, the marketing team must execute the plan.
Execution is where most people start their thinking of marketing. It’s the website. It’s the advertisement. It’s the ad campaign. These are the usual first reactions to marketing, and they are wrong based on the information above about Strategy and Management.
Marketing execution without strategy and management is a waste of money, time, and brand equity.
For Valens Point, marketing execution begins with content. Relevant and engaging content drives awareness, increases interest, and stimulates prospect growth.
But the execution isn’t just the content plan, you have to establish a content production system that will deliver content on a defined and predictable schedule. The ultimate goal is to develop content that (a) prospects and customers want to consume, and (b) establishes thought leadership and authority (defined in the strategy component).
Once a content production process in place, the execution plan must include plans for the use of the content. The use centers in three areas: Online presence, Offline, and Lead Generation Campaigns.
Online presence efforts include your website, your social media, business listings, reviews, and reputation building. Typically consulting firms have concentrated their marketing efforts in this area. But as discussed before, without a marketing strategy to guide your online presence efforts, they are likely to fail.
Offline work includes public relations (e.g., hosting events, community involvement) and speaking / presenting at industry and other events. This execution tactic is particularly useful when the consulting firm has a specific focus, unique perspective, proprietary process, or can deliver outcomes that are noticeably different from their competitors.
Campaigns are coordinated activities with a stated, measurable goal. That could be lead registration, building awareness for upcoming events (e.g., See us at this year’s tradeshow), or paid ad (PPC) campaign.
The alignment of Strategy, Management, and Execution
Tech consulting firms must have an alignment of strategy, management, and execution to be effective. An absence of one of these essential components will lead to marketing failure, wasted dollars, time, and effort.
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About Valens Point
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.