At the risk of making one or the other reader’s eyes roll right at the beginning: it’s once again about Corona. Or rather, about what Corona has made of us. Not as a company or as a person in itself, but very specifically out of us as marketing managers of IT companies. And especially NOW, when it seems as if we are approaching a new normal with cautious steps. What this new “normal zero” will look like, even we don’t know, even after hundreds of conversations with customers from various sectors. One thing seems certain: Digitization will become the defining issue of the next few years, for customers of all industries and sizes.
We don’t want to go into the potentials here, but rather deal with the (really) burning question: What does this mean for the marketing of IT companies?
Let’s get straight to the point: What does it look like, the marketing we organized together before the pandemic? Is what we established in marketing before the spring of 2020 as sufficiently purposeful for corporate success still what we need when we look ahead? It may be that we are bursting some dreams now: We don’t think it is. For a number of reasons.
In many cases, marketing organizations have grown historically to become a catch-all for all the tasks that sales and other departments don’t have time for. Trade fairs, events, the creation of brochures, the profile on the Internet, the new website – someone has to do it. Let’s take social media as an example – topics like these are somehow included at some point. Not always with a view to strategic suitability for corporate development. Or with an editorial communication idea over a longer period of time. Today, marketing is still often an area of arbitrary work consolidation with questionable success. And little strategy.
If our thesis is correct, namely that all topics that have something to do with digitization will determine the next few years, the question arises: Is your marketing organization prepared for this? Is it strategic to simply invest freed-up event budget in social media now and quickly turn onsite events into online events?
We not only challenge this, but also three others – not from the position of a know-it-all, but as a basis for discussion for the future target image of a modern marketing organization:
1. do you have a marketing strategy to develop your company, your brand?
Who determines what drives the actions of your marketing organization – sales, management, or the gut of a growth-oriented investor? In fact, in many companies, it is unfortunate that marketing leadership is performed in a dual role, for example, by the head of sales or by a member of the executive team. With the amount of demanding tasks that these demanding positions entail, the question arises: Is there even a coherent strategy with a view to the needs and motivations of the customers in their industries and segments, or is marketing merely the extended workbench of a specialist department?
With the expected transformation of entire industries, it would be downright negligent to leave success to chance. Developing a marketing strategy means analyzing the market potential and the competition, understanding the needs of customers and addressing them with targeted messages where they prefer to be. Not more of the same, but better of the same.
2. do you know the value your brand represents for your customers?
The value of a brand is not only a decisive factor for large companies. Yes, brand value has many dimensions, even many very difficult to measure. But also very concrete ones: what does your company stand for, what can your future customers expect from you? When we talk to customers about their growth ambitions, we often hear, “People don’t know us outside our (small) core market.” Or even “Our customers often don’t even know how we’ve evolved and what we offer today.”
The fact is: these are signs of an insufficiently developed brand. Signs of a fuzzy positioning, of a weak position with regard to the possibilities, especially in the area of increasing demand for IT solutions.
The task of marketing in the future will be to position companies precisely, absolutely and in comparison to the competition. So let’s go on like this? Rather not …
3. is your marketing organization today in a position to strategically advance your company?
What are the responsibilities of your marketing organization today? Coordinating events, overseeing the creation of product information, giveaways and websites? Creating sporadic social media posts?
Admittedly, these questions are very pointed. Moreover, they miss the point. After all, the question is not what the marketing organization is doing today, but why it is doing it. Who determines what is done for who, for what reason, and with what objective?
Companies that organize their marketing strategically, dovetail the measures, build campaigns on one another and make sensible make-or-buy decisions in the classic activities are the ones to which even crises can do little (or less) harm. Because they are able to react faster and more efficiently.
Yes, this is also painted in black and white, but – unfortunately – it is still all too often reality in the marketing organizations of IT companies. Modern marketing organizations should concentrate on developing concepts to bring supply and demand together.
So: should we continue with silo-like individual measures on a selective basis or is it time for a comprehensive strategic approach to bring together the demand for digitization solutions with the supply of IT companies?