More and more companies are realizing that they can get better ROI from inbound marketing than traditional outbound strategies. In an age when most buyers prefer to do their own research before engaging your sales team, providing informative content is key. Content marketing is especially important in technical industries, where sales cycles are longer and engineers are often making purchase decisions. Yet many high tech companies still rely on an outbound marketing approach.
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 Report, 59% of industrial and manufacturing companies say they primarily conduct inbound marketing, while 39% favor outbound marketing. While these numbers do indicate a progressive shift, their adoption rate is behind that of other industries.
Why the resistance to change? Based on our work with high tech companies, we see three common barriers:
1. Skepticism of marketing
Historically, outside marketing agencies have not served technical companies well due to the depth of technical knowledge required.
A lack of metrics has also caused distrust of marketing. Engineers like data, and they often view marketing as ‘squishy’ and non-measurable. However, the expanse of marketing automation and reporting tools now available has made it easier to determine which marketing activities are resulting in increased revenue. Make sure your teams agree on key performance indicators and goals for success up front, and track regularly.
The shift to inbound may require a cross-functional team of sales, marketing, and engineering—something that doesn’t occur naturally in most tech companies. Creating a content roadmap or marketing roadmap together, holding a positioning workshop, or planning a product launch are all activities that can align this team and close the gap.
2. Difficulty generating content
Content creation in high tech industries is somewhat of a catch-22. Ideally, engineers should be free to focus on what they do best while marketing takes care of content; but due to the technical complexity of products or technologies, engineers are often the best source of content.
The key to successful technical content development is to involve the right people at the right time. Rich content such as white papers and application notes will likely require a first draft (plus final review) from the engineer. For more sales-oriented pieces such as tip sheets and blog posts, the marketer can interview the engineer for the necessary technical information and later request a quick review for accuracy, saving both parties time.
3. Assumed visibility
In highly targeted industries, many business leaders feel that their company is already well-known. They have the mindset that “if buyers need us, they’ll call” and settle for simply taking orders rather than selling. Technology changes fast, and in emerging applications and markets, you may be an unknown. Even your current customers may not have a full understanding of what your company offers.
Even your decision makers are changing; 57% of the market will retire in the next 2 years, and the new buyer researches and makes decisions differently.
If you’re not marketing—not managing your own your reputation—then others (such as your competitors) will do it for you.
A well-thought-out value proposition, communicated in effective messaging through a variety of inbound marketing channels, will help you attract prospective buyers. When you take responsibility for driving the conversation about your company, you can achieve greater visibility and more easily build customer relationships.
Download the full HubSpot State of Inbound 2016 Report.
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