What’s Next for Marketing — And What it Means for Small Tech Companies

Posted by Michele Nichols on Tue, Mar 01, 2016

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What, exactly, is marketing’s role in an organization? Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has seen a continuing disconnect regarding this question among companies large and small. Three out of four CEOs say it’s hard to quantify how marketing dollars translate to incremental revenue improvements. The pressure is on to prove that marketing is working, and while it’s ever-more important, it remains difficult to measure.

McKinsey suggests that industry pressures and technology improvements mean we’ll soon see huge changes in marketing strategy related to:

Science

Big data is promising, but for many of the small and mid-size companies we work with, elusive. Real buyer data is here, though. Marketing platforms like HubSpot put end-to-end metrics at your finger tips.

Substance

The shift from pushing to engaging has changed marketing’s role in the organization. Marketing’s value now lies not in selling product, but in defining it. Trends like social media monitoring and engagement, customer-centric market positioning, and transparency make it easier to identify and understand your target customers and their emerging needs and buying behaviors, and to differentiate with better customer service.

Recently, we’ve helped companies to:

  • Implement online chat to raise conversion rates from web traffic
  • Use inbound marketing to test demand for new manufacturing capabilities before capital investment
  • Change customer qualification and delivery processes to differentiate and avoid commoditization

All of these are marketing-driven but have impact throughout operations.

Story

Companies are increasingly using testimonials to add authenticity and credibility to their social media outreach. This has created a shift in how marketing is done—moving from traditional ad agencies to more integrated marketing teams.

Speed

Improving agility is certainly critical for large global brands. Small companies have an inherent advantage, but the shift to digital marketing may require you to take a fresh look at your review process. Exacerbating this concern is the acceleration of product launch, especially in medical device and related industries, whose product lifecycles are shortening. Time-to-market makes speed a priority.

To improve marketing’s ability to react and respond to opportunity, consider:

  • A brand style guide—create a document that addresses tone, themes, core technology information, and key messages. Put more emphasis on this plan, and less on managing each tactic as it happens.
  • Veto power—choose carefully which type of outreach warrants your closest involvement, and retain ‘veto power’ over the rest.
  • Marketing & engineering alignment—foster collaborations at every label to take the onus off of leadership.

Simplicity

As the number of sales & marketing channels and messages increases, companies struggle to reign in the complexity. McKinsey suggests that companies will continue to look for full-service integrated firms with more digital expertise than traditional ad agencies can provide, while keeping in-house marketing departments lean.

Most recently, we’ve been helping global companies to build outsourced but tightly integrated teams, and balance centralized marketing with localized outreach, especially in Asia for indirect sales channels. Centralize branding, localize marketing tactics.

To discuss how these recent marketing trends and changes might affect your business, give us a call.

 

Topics: Marketing Strategy