One thing I spend a lot of effort and time doing is staying abreast of marketing strategies, trends, patterns, and technology.
Trends are just that: Trends may or may not be fads. I closely monitor emerging trends to constantly evaluate and audit to determine whether they’re a flash in the pan or if they have some legs and sustainability, structure, and reason to thrive. My prediction and success with assessing technology so far have proven excellent. Far above average. This takes a lot of time and experience to be able to truthfully say, which is something that some companies will mysteriously label as “overqualified.” That simplistic thinking will lose revenue and not grow your company as desired. Rookie error.
Patterns are something I’m always scouting for. In data especially, as when running linear regression analysis or cross-examining graphs I create for study, reference end analysis. Yes, I do that.
Lastly, technology is something that changes by the nanosecond on this planet, and keeping up with the best-of-breed and most useful tools and integrated systems, which I prefer personally, on a modular level which is even better, could honestly be a (very cool but tiring) full-time job.
“MarTech” is an industry term that’s now being tossed around just as freely and as inappropriately as “FinTech” and the rest of the “me-too” firms that inevitably crop up and glom onto anything that looks like there may be high margins. That’s part of the basic natural business cycle. So there’s a great deal of hype that such should be ignored and identified easily by anyone that’s been around for any time.
In that same fashion, for 2022 I want to veer over into some familiar turf, but some that I think is bound to be the more valuable real estate in the marketing landscape. That’s content marketing and SaaS/IT marketing. B2B of course.
I single these services out because they are handled differently than products and B2C of course. And then there are even more idiosyncratic characteristics of these types of businesses that require more attention and more sophistication than most others, I’ve found. I’ve handled marketing concerns for a wide berth of businesses, from custom industrial engineering to llama farming. And everyone needs to be handled differently. That’s why someone with a lot of experience counts. They aren’t overqualified; they’re professionally prepared. That’s the value being brought to the table.
However, there are 12 things you must do to market your IT/SaaS business in 2022 that I can see so far.
- Understand Your Target Audience
- Build a Killer Website
- Build a Solid MarTech Stack
- Create Content. Lots of Content.
- Build a Meaningful Social Media Presence
- Take Advantage of Tech Influencers
- Make a Splash with PR
- Get Ranked on Peer-to-Peer Review Sites
- Don’t Forget About Existing Clients
- Integrate Emerging Tech with Marketing
- Research Your Marketplace & Buyers
- Understand Your Competition
These are some thoughts I have that I would present to an IT business, for example of how I can help them. I can set all this up for them and execute the plans if desired. Some companies just want the plan, others want me to handle it for them. I can do both and am happy to, being available of course.
So let’s break them down individually.
Understand your target audience. A lot of newer IT and SaaS companies I’ve worked with consisted of a software engineer(s) or IT specialists that had a business sprout up around them, and the next thing they know, it’s become unwieldy and not so much a business as a workshop that hustles software and services. More reactionary than having any real written marketing and growth plan. It just happens. A lot.
And as time passes the firm focuses on the orders that need to get out the door instead of developing their niche and controlling their message and when it’s sent to their target audience. And to do that, you must determine your target audience.
I’ve covered some of this in my comparison of Personas vs. Composites post. “Personas” are the common way to go about things these days. But don’t make the mistake of thinking everything out there works just as well for everyone. Every business is inherently different with different DNA and must be approached thusly. Otherwise, you’re leaving (possibly a lot) of money on the table.
Determining who your customer and market are imperative to locate and serve them. That seems like common sense when stated so plainly. But when the intricacies of business come into play, it becomes much muddier. That’s where I can help with research and data analysis. Often the customer you think you serve, or want to serve is much different than the audience you’re spending time in. Make sure you’re in the right circles before doing anything, or else you’re wasting scarce resources. I will help you conserve and protect your resources to invest in the most promising area.
Number Two: Build a killer website. SaaS and IT companies don’t have the luxury of having a website that’s outdated or poor in ANY way. There’s no excuse. It’s a poor idea on the front end and for the bottom line. It’s your worldwide storefront that EVERYONE has access to. Make sure it’s polished and shining like the Crown Jewels. I have the expertise to help with that, too. I have both design and development chops.
Five things your website MUST have, however, are your design/UX; SEO; Being Mobile First; Speed; and Accessibility.
- Design/UX: Customers expect sleek, intuitive websites that are professionally designed by a professional firm. If you don’t have one, you’re not one. That might hurt some people, but it’s true in 2022.
- SEO: This is an ongoing biggie. I live in the world of SEO and my brain matter has become infused with it. But that doesn’t mean I’m an “expert,” because SEO has become a specialty the requires a list of expensive tools and time to do properly, amidst a sea of unqualified “marketers” that proclaim themselves to be experts. Learning to discriminate between the two takes experience to hone judgment and skim the cream from the chaff. Again, that’ where I come in. Google Analytics is just the beginning.
- Mobile first. Doesn’t matter if your clients aren’t accessing your site on their phones predominantly on mobile. It’s all Google looks at.
- Speed. This is an easy thing to fix. Compress/delete media, get a fast server. Keep your site updated, clean, lean & mean. At LEAST 70 on web dev tools.
- Accessibility: If all users can’t browse your site, you’ll be penalized. Simple as that. But you should make it accessible anyway. It’s not difficult and it matters a lot.
3: Build a solid MarTech Stack. We’re in Web3 now. A MarTech stack should be built upon a solid foundation of the tried and true with consideration and keen knowledge of what these tools can and can’t do, and what to do if they can’t do what you want them to without breaking the bank or overturning the MarTech table you already have built. Part of my unwritten job description, which is a big part of my time, is analyzing new tools to see if they are up to snuff or not. It’s easy to get steamrolled by a competitor who found an obscure or early competitive technological edge before you did, I’ve found. Remember that.
Marketing for IT companies is a discipline driven by tech and data, which are some of the many reasons I enjoy it. Marketing automation tools let you eliminate wasteful, manual processes. They adeptly handle:
- Automated email sends
- Analytics and campaign tracking
- Social media management
- Lead scoring
The right marketing technologies allow you to gather data on everything you do. And that’s critical to measure and monitor your businesses’ performance and reveals opportunities for growth, revenue, where to decrease costs, and everything in-between. It’s vital and it’s critical to have someone using it that has mastered the tools. It does no good to buy licenses if you can’t or don’t harness and leverage their potential which is why you bought them in the first place, right? I see so many companies with powerful software suites that no one knows or bothers to use. It’s disgraceful in a tech environment, to me.
Create content. LOTS of content. This is an area that always intrigues me as a person who’s spent his life becoming a better writer and communicator. I majored in English, as did my mother. And my aunt had a Doctorate in it. So I’ve always been immersed in magniloquence. I’ve always been surrounded by pillars of books it seems. Relevant content= valuable information, which is the most precious commodity in business, if not life. It should be handled respectfully, and not as an afterthought or be second-rate.
To generate relevant, valuable, evergreen content that generates and converts, you MUST have a dedicated person who delivers this. This is where I see companies cut corners badly and I hear a record scratch. Everyone’s a writer. Everyone’s an editor and content producer with the internet. All you have to do is write some things about what you sell and hit publish, right?
Keep in mind, you aren’t providing content for Google, which is where most “digital marketers” get it wrong, I think. The right method is to provide answers and arm your IT customers with knowledge to make the right decisions, which is what marketing is all about. Keep that in mind when producing your volumes of content.
If it was as easy as it seems, there’d be nothing to talk about. But it’s HUGE. Content is a building investment in assets that will last as long as your business, and grow just as it does. It’s not disposable on the web. And if you’re going to spend the time and money on it, it should matter, and represent your insight and thoughts and not be throw-away garbage, which the web is already over-littered with. You have to stand out for Google to recognize you. And that takes research, keyword research, competitor research, careful crafting of words and phrases that are compelling but not awkward and read easily and offer the highest amount of value you are able.
One of my strengths is writing if that wasn’t evident by this very website. (If you take issue with that statement please let me know because I never get feedback or criticism about my writing and I know I’m not perfect. I always want to get better. In ALL my pursuits.)
The next steps are to refer to the research data we generated (and cleaned), create different types of content that answer your target buyers’ questions, then use your website, multi-channel campaigns, and PR efforts to get your content in front of your target audience. Simple as that!
Also, build a meaningful Social Media presence. Of course. But what does that mean to you and your target customers? Again, that takes research, not guessing. Building social media presences take time, consistent effort, and money. So make it count and do it right. Decide where your customers spend their time and consult for ideas and do their research for new solutions. That’s where you want to be. It may not even be a huge platform like LinkedIn. It could be a web forum or on Discord or Twitch these days. Do you know where they are from day to day and who they believe is credible? Once you know that, release the hounds.
And what I mean by that isn’t to barrage the web with posts that get glossed over. PEOPLE are what engages people, and business is about people. Not brands. Don’t forget that. Keep the brand accounts active, of course, but to build a meaningful social media presence, you need to let your most gregarious, knowledgable, and interesting employees interact with customers and share professional posts with them. That’s what gives your company life, is living breathing people, not a brand.
Next: Take advantage of Tech influencers. I don’t mean the internet or podcast or book “pop” stars out there that are mostly hype and all sizzle. You’re in IT and/or building software? Then become pals with those that amplify and give credence to your services and product and have some weight to their name. Speakers at industry events and sources for influential publications are key targets. Let them know who you are and what you can offer the world, so when they are asked, the first answer they have is you and your contact information. When others are looking for information and knowledge about buying, they refer to leaders in the field. It’s that simple, but you need a person tasked with doing this. It has to be organic but diligently tended to on a consistent basis, as do all these items. It used to be you could parse out these duties to whoever wasn’t working on something, but if you’re serious about your business, those days are over. Web3 will see sophistication, modularity, and specializations. I happen to specialize in these things of course because it’s what I do for a living.
Making a “SPLASH” with PR is easier said than done these days, but done right, it can pay handsome dividends for a long time and open doors and create opportunities where there hadn’t been.
One of my first jobs was working for PR Newswire where we sent out 10,000 complex financial press releases every month for Fortune 500 companies in the Southeast across the world. Their SEC filings, quarterlies, and anything else they wanted to announce to the planet.
So after working there for about 5 years, I learned how press releases work and how to craft them. Also what they’re capable and incapable of providing. Not all PR has to go through a Wire service, of course. But those years in public relations for a wide berth of companies were valuable.
Getting ranked on Peer to Peer review sites. Credibility. Relevancy. Word of Mouth (the most elusive and the golden goose). Testimony! If you’re running an IT company you cannot ignore these review sites because they are so powerful. If you look at reviews on Amazon, Yelp Airbnb, then you’re engaging in the same behavior as your desired customers. Check out G2.com, Capterra, and Clutch and set up a profile on a site most relevant to your business. Ask your most loyal and influential clients for reviews, QED of course. These sites also currently have sponsorships available which aren’t cheap, but they can be effective.
Don’t forget about existing clients. They (hopefully) are growing too and need solutions for their growing pains at the very least. You’ve landed these clients so it’s easier and cheaper to keep them. But don’t ever take them for granted. Connect and engage with them on social media and send them weekly or monthly useful, relevant emails. Have sales build campaigns to introduce new products and/or upsell them.
Research the Market and Buyers– “Research” is a vague term that describes an activity that should take weeks, not months, and maybe less depending on what prior work has been done. (Or maybe more depending on the situation. Just like people, all companies are different.)
If I were putting these in order, research would have been up at the top. Because it’s seminal to the entire work. The goal here is to extract as much useful information and data as possible to develop plans and have material to create workable plans when numbers are run. Not to overanalyze, become paralyzed, or a slave to the research. Make sure the data is good and clean. The only thing worse than no data is bad data.
Competition Analysis. Keep your friends close, your enemies closer. Identify your 3-4 closest competitors and reverse engineer what they’re doing, if what they’re doing appears to be savvy and effective. This isn’t to clone anyone or be a “me-too” type business at all. Every successful business, team, athlete, or participant in competition knows what their competitors are up to.