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The Reasons Even Top IT Companies Struggle to Market Themselves

Digital marketing is crucial for IT companies to hit their B2B goals.

But marketing requires many skills that don't come naturally to info tech teams.

Digital marketing enables IT companies to connect with potential customers via the internet and other forms of digital communication. Also known as online marketing, digital marketing utilizes blog content, email, social media, web-based advertising, and website copy, as well as text and multimedia messages.

Modern-day marketing is all around us. Every day, we jump into our social media world of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, sharing blogs dutifully written by experts in various fields while “selling” ourselves and our lifestyles with pictures, posts, and reels. No wonder everyone thinks marketing is easy. 

But does having access to marketing tools mean you know how to use them? If you hand over your car keys to an emu, would you trust it to drive on a cross-country road trip safely? Probably not. So maybe you shouldn’t let a team of engineers start a TikTok account in the hopes of finding your target audience.

The ubiquity of marketing tools makes everyone believe they know how to run a marketing campaign. From the CEO and the CMO to the accounts payable department supervisor and their spouse and children—everyone thinks they know exactly what the company needs to do to sell a product or service. 

The reality is that marketing is about so much more than posting a photo at the right time or jumping on a viral TikTok dance. Marketing is actually a data-driven effort built on strategic messaging and a solid, targeted content strategy. And just as engineers should be handed the reins of tech design, professional digital marketers should be relied upon to pilot all-encompassing marketing campaigns.

Why Marketing is Important for Tech Companies

Taking a 30,000-foot view of marketing, the goal is to inform and engage with your target audience so that they conclude your product or service is the best solution for the problem they’re trying to solve.

In B2B marketing, business buyers are catered to specifically, with the goal of improving lead quality, sales acceptance of leads, and conversion rates. 

For the information technology industry, the need for a superlative B2B marketing strategy is as crucial as ever. Global IT spending is projected to total $4.5 trillion in 2022, an increase of 5.1 percent from 2021, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. This massive dollar amount reveals that while competition is at an all-time high, so is market opportunity. 

There’s a good chance that if you get in front of your target audience at the right time, with the right message, you will succeed. But how?

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What is Digital Marketing?

First, it’s vital to understand what digital marketing is. Some might think that marketing simply equals advertising—web ads, social media ads, print ads, radio, and TV spots—but that’s not quite what we’re talking about. Paid advertising is just one channel for increasing reach or amplifying elements of a more extensive marketing campaign or strategy.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is all about marketing efforts that flourish on the internet. 

An end-to-end digital marketing strategy leverages digital channels such as social media, search engines, web pages, email, text, multimedia messages, and other collateral to connect organizations with current and prospective customers. 

For business growth and brand awareness, digital marketing is one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal. The purest way to get your story out there, digital marketing connects you with customers where they spend the majority of their time: on the internet. 

So, while digital marketing is about the message, it’s also about how it is presented and the different channels used to spread that message.

What Happens when IT Designs Websites

Nobody knows more about information technology than those who work within the industry—and no one knows your business better than you and your team. 

But while you should leverage in-house expertise, it can often take the form of a raw and unfiltered knowledge drop. Which, unfortunately, could turn out to be a detriment to your success. 

Like many other industries, IT is loaded with jargon and technical speak that doesn’t exactly constitute a universal language. It’s true: The companies that require IT assistance do not necessarily speak that same technical language. This leads to marketing messages being lost in translation and potential customers going elsewhere for technical assistance. 

When an IT company writes and designs its own website, there’s always a danger that the end product will rely too heavily on that in-house expertise without any of the digital marketing finesse. One common feature of this kind of “expertise-heavy” site can be referred to as “tech messaging.”

Tech Messaging

The minute you start sounding like you’re merely trying to sell a batch of products and services, there’s a good chance you’ll steer some customers away from your company. 

A winning digital marketing strategy begins with identifying your customer’s problems, explaining why they are worth solving, then relating how you can go about solving these problems. This approach leads to engagement from your target audience, extending the conversation and growing your business. 

Conversely, bad content marketing will try to pitch products and services without mentioning problem-solving or anything else that might make a prospective customer’s life easier. This prevents any engagement—if customers wanted to read a sales pitch, they would subscribe to a product catalog.

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Why Only One Marketing Channel Can Hurt You

There’s a reason why people still say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” That old idiom crams a lot of wisdom into only a few words, especially regarding a digital marketing approach for IT companies. 

The IT landscape is crowded, and, as mentioned earlier, companies are willing to spend a lot of money on information technology. Fierce competition only increases the need for an agile, robust, and diversified digital marketing strategy.

A single-channel marketing strategy is tenuous at best, mainly because:

 

  • It takes time. Different digital marketing tactics require different amounts of time to generate results. For example, without additional channels to support it, an “organic” content strategy can take anywhere from 12 – 18 months to generate ROI.
  • It overlooks potential customers. What happens if your main customers don’t frequent the one marketing channel you’ve chosen? You miss out on those customers, that’s what. There are too many options for customers—if you miss your opportunity to hit them with your message, it’s over. 
  • It’s one and done. When you invest all of your marketing dollars in one channel, the fate of the marketing department (or team) tends to ride on the success or failure of that single initiative.

A more holistic approach to digital marketing is safer and, overall, more effective. Utilizing a marketing strategy segmented across an array of channels helps tailor your message to more customers at all stages of the “buyer’s journey.” The most common marketing channels include:

 

 

All the channels listed here are time-honored digital marketing tools leveraged by millions of companies across thousands of verticals—with IT no exception. However, these tools are just that—tools. A successful digital marketing program isn’t just about the tools you use; it’s about the strategy they support.

Focus on Marketing Strategy, Not Just Marketing Tactics

Tactics are simple tools you can learn and deploy without knowing what you’re doing. 

Describing the tactics inside of the marketing toolkit doesn’t sound all that complicated—there are emails, social media posts, videos, blogs, and maybe even a cute infographic or two. 

Strategic marketing constitutes a business’s overall plan to reach prospective consumers and transform them into active customers. Any solid marketing strategy will leverage your company’s value proposition, brand messaging, customer demographic data, and other elements.

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Why Brand Management is Important for Tech

A successful company reaches a broad audience, converts prospects to leads without blowing the budget on advertising, grows revenue, and is scalable. 

The good news is that you can achieve all of those goals through brand management—an offshoot of your greater strategic digital marketing efforts. 

Brand management goes beyond your name, colors, and logo. While it includes those three crucial details, it also encompasses your customer touchpoints. Successful brand management takes great care in calibrating how your brand looks, sounds, and feels across all marketing channels, content, customer service, and communication.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in brand management, but perhaps the most essential points in the process include:

  • Ensuring brand positioning and values are aligned
  • Monitoring brand reputation
  • Centralizing brand material
  • Measuring and analyzing brand performance

For tech companies, increasing competition makes brand management imperative. In a highly competitive marketplace, IT companies with a strong brand presence and promise to deliver value have a better chance of leaving an impression. 

Now, there are excellent brand management examples and some not-so-great brand management examples.

In fact, some of the biggest names in tech have fallen completely flat in the brand management department. The mere mention of some of these big tech companies—Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, for example—often elicits groans of resentment. These are some of the most profitable tech companies of all time, yet their brand management has been arguably awful.

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The Consumer Decision-Making Process for Technology

Recent history saw a drastic change in the consumer decision-making process for technology. In days past, a consumer would read an ad, see a commercial, or pass a billboard. Then, the consumer would seek a quote from the company, mull over the purchase, shop around with competitors, think about it some more, then decide whether or not to fork over the cash for the product or service.

It was a long process, often with a decreasing chance of a sale with each step in the path.

In the era of digital marketing, the consumer’s decision-making process has been streamlined. Consumers can access a wealth of online information that helps them research quickly, find precisely what they need, and make a snap purchasing decision that’s greatly influenced by customer reviews.

While customers are more informed than ever, some industries like IT are still characterized by impressively long sales cycles.

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The Long Sales Cycle for Technology

A 2018 Gartner survey of more than 500 corporate technology buyers demonstrated that buying teams could spend close to 17 months on average to complete a new IT purchase. According to the study, there are a few factors at play:

  • Buying teams are often comprised of more than ten individuals, all bringing a complex set of priorities, ideals, and perspectives to the buying decision.
  • These teams perform extensive research with partners, analysts, vendors, and external peers, leading to more diverse opinions.
  • Examining cost and risk causes buyers to frequently change plans, altering the business case and requiring multiple resolutions.
  • Buyers typically juggle multiple projects and are often forced to make numerous purchasing decisions simultaneously.

Making individual sales and building overall revenue are undoubtedly among your primary business goals. So the question becomes, how do you align those goals with your marketing goals of website traffic, likes, and clicks? And what happens when your business goals are not aligned with your digital marketing efforts?

 

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When Marketing is Not Aligned with Business Goals

If the connection between marketing and business goals is severed, it will be impossible to measure the success of your digital marketing efforts. Without clear benchmarks, the chances of launching a successful marketing campaign is slim to none. Aligning the two requires elevated communication and diligent planning.

Marketing Should Build Toward Business Goals

A strong marketing campaign might not lead to immediate, measurable results. However, a sustained digital marketing effort can help build forward progress toward your ultimate business goals. 

In digital marketing, there’s a constant stream of new information about strategies that work—and don’t work—with your target audience. Unfortunately, making split-second decisions based on data that hasn’t had a chance to mature can make you lose sight of your business goals. 

This is why a digital marketing team must know the importance of data and how to measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in service of your long-term business goals.

Let us do the marketing; you take care of IT.

Click here to get started.

Hubspot Platinum Agency Partner

HubSpot Platinum Partner - 4B Marketing Agency

4B Marketing recently became a HubSpot Platinum Agency Partner

Creating and maintaining an inbound marketing program for businesses of all sizes is no small feat.

That’s why businesses ready for quantifiable growth rely on 4B Marketing for content creation, content marketing, lead generation, and reporting.

4B is on a mission to change the narrative around marketing because marketing shouldn’t be a cost center. It can be (and should be) a revenue-generating machine for improved business performance.

Our proven success record and uncanny ability to align marketing tasks with business outcomes show 4B clients exactly how – and where – they fit into the marketplace and helps us create high-output content laser-focused on our customers’ target personas.

Greg Peters | Owner of 4B Marketing

“Every business owner is focused on increasing profits, reducing risks, and controlling costs,” said Greg Peters, 4B Marketing CEO. “We audit the competitive landscape, personas, and our client’s unique value to serve those core business needs.”

Are you ready to get focused and dominate your industry? 

What is inbound marketing?

According to HubSpot, “Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.”

Our Inbound Marketing work starts with your customer personas.

We base personas on your best customers today. We also base them on the untapped marketing potential you know exists but that you haven’t been able to access.

With personas developed, we use your team and our research to identify topics and content styles most likely to win consideration and MQLs (Market Qualified Leads). We market the created content organically, through paid ads, or earned through PR hits in the places where our personas hang out digitally.

As your share of voice, influence, and trust within an industry grow, your list of leads and close rates should grow, too. Using HubSpot’s in-depth reporting tools (which can easily integrate with your website and social media), we can chart your growth and offer data-driven predictions.

Inbound marketing relies on multiple communication channels, including social media, organic and paid search, email marketing, in-person engagements, and more, to create a marketing engine capable of producing an abundance of leads. It also helps increase your business development teams’ bandwidth.

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Is inbound marketing right for my business?

Inbound marketing isn’t always suitable for every business.

Low-cost, direct-to-consumer manufacturers, for example, probably won’t find much value in generating marketing-qualified leads and nurturing them into sales-qualified leads.

But, inbound marketing is the missing piece of your marketing puzzle if your business relies on developed and retained trust, consumer education, or shortened sales cycles.

Are you ready to pave the road to predictable growth and consistent lead generation? Inbound Marketing is for you.

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How do you get started with inbound marketing?

Most businesses already create inbound marketing content without realizing it.

Are you blogging to grow your visibility in search? Do you run paid advertisements? Does your company publish on social media? These are all inbound marketing actions.

Still, without the larger framework of persona development or the reporting to justify your next inbound marketing tactic, these actions will probably fail to produce the desired results.

We can remove the guesswork out of Inbound Marketing and optimize your content and communications to extract the most significant returns.

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What is a HubSpot Platinum Partner?

It’s not easy to achieve HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency status.

You have to attract and maintain new client relationships through the Inbound Marketing process to become a HubSpot Platinum Partner.

Ascending the ranks past Provider status, through Gold status, to become a Platinum Partner Agency means we’ve developed marketing engines that work for us – and work for our clients.

As a HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency, we can adjust set up fees, resource libraries, offer you prioritized one-on-one technical support, and we can join HubSpot’s Advisors Council (and more).

Hubspot Platinum Partner status is more than an agency victory lap; it’s proof that our existing clients have chosen a vetted and trusted marketing partner.

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“We are excited to see 4B Marketing reach another level within the HubSpot Partner Program. Their deep experience in helping companies drive sales growth paired with HubSpot’s platform for developing and executing inbound strategies makes them very attractive for any business looking to grow,” said Kevin Dyess, HubSpot Channel Account Manager.

What makes 4B different from other agencies?

4B Marketing is obsessively focused on your business objectives.

We’re passionate marketers, and we want to help you achieve your goals. We also want to help you positively impact the lives of your customers and your employees.

We’ll learn where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. Let’s create award-winning work together.

Let’s have a short conversation to discuss your goals. 

Journal

Seth Godin's Thirteen Principles of the Marketer's Mission

I am an extremely slow reader. I tell everyone this fact whenever they hand me a book; “Don’t put this book in my hands,” I’ll say, “unless you’re prepared to not see it again for a couple of years.” Curiously, I have a strong appetite for learning and I put valuable lessons to work in my life as quickly as I can. All I can say is: Thank God for audiobooks.

Recently, I wrapped up listening to Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing. As with all of Godin’s books, it’s a worthwhile read with more than a few nuggets to sink your teeth into and reference during meetings.

Late in the book, Godin recites a list of rules to help people achieve the change they seek. It’s a fantastic list and one I wanted to share throughout the office. Unfortunately, though, unless I wanted to transcribe that list myself through repeated listenings of the few seconds it takes Godin to recite the list, I was out of luck. I didn’t have a printed copy. This is the downfall of consuming books in audio form.

‘He’s gotta have this on his site somewhere,’ I thought. If he does, Google hasn’t found it.

Through the prompting of my daughter, I found myself later that day at Tattered Cover. I decided to see if they had a copy of This Is Marketing. In short order, I located both the book and the page with the passage and snapped a photo of the pages containing the thirteen principles. So, for anyone else, like me, who listened to the book and wanted to reference this list of principles, here are…

SETH GODIN’S THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES OF THE MARKETER’S MISSION:

  1. “Put people to work. It’s even more effective than money.”
  2. “Challenge your people to explore, to learn, and to get comfortable with uncertainty.”
  3. “Find ways to help others on the path find firm footing.”
  4. “Help others write rules that allow them to achieve their goals.”
  5. “Treat the others that way you’d want to be treated.”
  6. “Don’t criticize for fun. Do it when it helps educate, even if it’s not entertaining.”
  7. “Stick with your tactics long after everyone else is bored with them. Only stop when they stop working.”
  8. “It’s okay to let the pressure cease now and then. People will pay attention to you and the change you seek when they are unable to consistently ignore it.”
  9. “Don’t make threats. Do or don’t do.”
  10. “Build a team with the capacity and the patience to do the work that needs doing.”
  11. “If you bring positive ideas to the fore, again and again, you’ll raise the bar for everyone else.”
  12. “Solve your own problems before you spend a lot of time finding problems for the others.”
  13. “Celebrate your people, free them to do even more, make it about the cohort, and invite everyone along. Disagree with institutions, not with people.”

And, as a bonus, if you wanted the list of marketing books Seth recommends at the end of the book, Redditor u/IAmSimonDell compiled those here.