What does a successful partner look like in 2018?
Our team recently sat back and reviewed the year that was. We reflected on our successes and our learnings and those of our customers.
We've been very lucky to work with a multitude of IT businesses this year and supporting them in hitting their business goals is one of the main reasons we come to work every day. When we looked at what makes our customers successful a few key themes stood out to us. What follows is our opinion on the main success drivers for an IT company operating in 2018 – we hope they help to inspire some new ideas for the year ahead!
1. Know how to discover and communicate your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
This is a question you’ve no doubt asked yourself and it is often not on easy one to answer – but it is critical. If you can’t articulate what makes you stand out from the competition – what makes your product, service or experience unique or special – then how can your customers understand this?
If January is a quiet time for you and you still struggle to answer this question, take the time to think about what makes your business unique. This is the first step to allowing you to have different conversations from those your competitors are having.
Tip: a single, high-level statement is probably not enough. A company wide USP is an important first step but you will mean different thing to the different people and segments you target. More on that below.
2. Focus your offering(s) to one or more different target markets
If your marketing efforts try to be relevant to all people, they will be relevant to none.
But, by choosing one or two target markets to focus on for a period of time, such as a 6-month period, you will not be saying ‘no’ to any other sales. It simply means that you will focus your marketing efforts in order to build a pool of assets relevant to a specific market, establish relationships and gain valuable traction. Then you can decide to shift focus and use your learnings elsewhere if you so choose.
We’ve helped our customers to achieve some fantastic results when we’ve worked with them to take a focused, programmatic, approach.
3. Build Intellectual Property and productize
Many of our customers no longer talk tech when they speak to their customers – or have significantly reduced the ‘tech-talk’. As the IT market becomes more and more commoditized, you need to create unique, packaged solutions that solve real-life problems that non-technical people understand.
This is taking the target market conversation to the next level. Creating bespoke solutions that speak directly to your target market presented within their look, their feel and their user experience – that’s what will take your marketing efforts to the next level!
4. Consider collaboration
Maybe we just have some great customers but our (extensive and growing!) experience in the Australian IT industry tells us that it is an open and friendly one! Don’t be afraid to reach out to other companies that do different (but complimentary) things to yours.
You could be helping them as much as they are helping you!
5. Build your business for you - not for your vendors
Yes, you have to keep on top of your vendor technology and make sure you’re up to date on the ongoing developments, new releases and product roadmaps. But always start – and end – with what is right for your business. What does your target market want and need? How can you best deliver that? Let this lead your product decisions.
Focus on having the right conversations and being true to your story and what you are trying to achieve in the marketplace. Otherwise there is the danger that you’ll end up wasting time trying to please your vendors rather than building your business the way you want it to be.
And if you ever find yourself running around trying to spend co-funded marketing funds – STOP. This is a sure sign that you are not working to a high-level strategy and any spend is unlikely to deliver the results you’re after.
6. Create a purpose-driven company culture
Attracting the right talent is one of the top business challenges, particularly in tech. And the fact is that the people you seek are likely to be looking for more than a great job with a great salary. They want to feel like they are part of a true team that’s working together to a common – and clearly articulated - goal.
But it more than that. Some of our most successful customers invest heavily in ongoing development and training – doing so means your team will grow along with your organisation and your customers will be the ones to benefit.
7. Take marketing seriously
If you know us even a little, you know we’re always talking about B2B marketing being a team sport.
It can no longer be done successfully by one person or team. At a time when it is essential that you lead with your unique voice, your unique collective experience and have unique conversations with your customers, marketing needs to be recognized as a critical business process.
And it is this process approach – with the whole business involved – that is the foundation for some of the best success stories we have seen this year.
Well written Melanie! Great insights!
Collaboration (or Partnering) is very dear to me and I agree to all the other statements too! I would like to add that successful partners are heavy on Digital Marketing which is very much about being a thought leader first, and sell your own services second!
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Nice to meet you.
Good article. To sum it up in one word would be clarity--having a clearly defined business scope and execution strategy. One thing I found with Microsoft is that the plethora of tools available make it tempting for us (and probalbly other businesses) to widen our scope and loose focus of our areas of expertise.