Finding the Balance – What Communications Strategy is Right for Your Company?

In recent years, technology vendors have faced ongoing pressure to constantly produce and distribute marketing content. Many marketing professionals will say that attractive marketing content is essential for SEO optimization and lead generation. Others in marketing will claim that successful brand awareness and promotion requires pushing influential content over social networks and through digital marketing.

Currently, we see that many technology vendors are transforming their content promotion efforts into communications strategies. In the world of content promotion, marketing and sales often function in separate silos, each with its own objectives and KPIs. The idea behind the need for a communications strategy is that market outreach needs to be more tightly integrated with business development and sales processes to directly support revenue generation.

With this in mind, the approach we take with our clients for communications strategies and market outreach focuses on promoting the messaging and news of our technology vendor clients to journalist and analyst. Our objective is to obtain influential press and analyst coverage that positions our clients as market leaders and promotes the business development and sales processes that we are leading for our clients.

We know that our approach to communications and market outreach is one of many options available to technology vendors.

 

Considerations for a Communications Strategy and Market Outreach

Many large vendors with the necessary resources are communicating to their markets with good success by synchronizing attractive messaging with effective promotion over multiple broadcast channels.

For vendors with limited budgets, communications and market outreach need to be balanced to support the company’s corporate objectives and other strategies.

In our opinion, determining what is right for your company in terms of communications and market outreach depends on the go-to-market and revenue generation strategy of your company.

For example, a technology company selling a consumer-oriented product or end user application can generate value in terms of brand awareness and growth by focusing on promoting influential digital content, such as internally produced movies, video interviews, infographics and so on, over social networking channels.

For vendors selling directly to enterprises, content promotion is still important for SEO optimization and outbound marketing activities are necessary for lead generation.

At the risk of getting off topic, it is worthwhile to highlight that for direct sales to be successful, a vendor must have the infrastructure in place to support the required commercial, delivery and support activities to turn a qualified lead into business and revenue. We see that many vendors, especially recently funded startups that opt for direct sales over working with channel partners, often overlook these important issues and miss out on many business opportunities because their management underestimates the distance between lead qualification and revenue generation. We are planning to cover this topic in detail in a future update.

For companies with go-to-market and revenue generating strategies based on selling indirectly through sales channel partners in local markets, such as distributors, value added resellers, managed service providers and system integration firms, press and analyst coverage is essential for supporting business development activities and sales processes.

 

Our Recommendations

Our advice for communications and market outreach is to always focus on promoting benefits and value propositions, while consistently broadcasting the business progress and growth of the company. The benefits that are promoted should be targeted at both end users and sales channel partners with equal importance.

This does not mean that product descriptions or functional specifications are not important. This type of content is of course needed, especially as part of a vendor’s product management and sales tool kit.

Our point here is content that communicates benefits, such as reducing costs through automization or enabling new services with increased network capacity, is far more attractive to journalists and analysts and better supports business development and sales than content describing new protocols or the number of ports in a new device.

For vendors going to market and generating revenue through sales channel partners, our recommendation is that press and analyst coverage should lead communications and market outreach activities.

In our previous update, we introduced our concept of press and analyst coverage and outlined the benefits to a vendor’s business development staff and sales channel partners.

Press and analyst coverage, which includes press releases, interview articles, quotes in feature articles, analyst reports and awards, can be used by a vendor’s business development team to attract and interact with sales channel partners. In turn, these sales channel partners can use this press and analyst coverage to facilitate and push forward sales processes.

In parallel, press and analyst coverage can be used for a vendor’s other marketing activities and campaigns. For example, an interview published with a vendor’s executive or one of its customers can be posted to the company’s web site, shared on its social media accounts, featured in an email-based newsletter, sent directly to targeted customers and partners and more. In addition, interview articles also have value for SEO purposes, especially if published on a prominent online publication.

Two Final Thoughts

First, we are often asked: “Why bother with journalists and analysts when we can produce the same content ourselves?” Our response is that internally produced content of course has value. We are actually in the process of arranging for a video interview with the managing director a customer we brought to one of our clients to discuss the benefits of working with our client. However, the feedback we always receive from our sales channel partners around the world is that press and analyst coverage is more influential in attracting new customers and moving forward sales processes than internally produced documents.

Second, during this uncertain time caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is essential to continue to communicate with your market and broadcast both the benefits of your company and its progress. In the recent weeks and months since the Coronavirus outbreak, we have had good success and received positive market feedback from the press releases that we have distributed for clients, especially those about new customers and other project milestones.

What’s Next

In our next update, we will share our advice on building an effective press and analyst coverage plan. We will include our recommendations for creating a coverage plan that is both achievable and sustainable over time. We will also elaborate on what is involved in a executing a coverage plan that supports the sales processes of channel partners.

Please share your thoughts or any feedback with us below and we will get back to you soon.