When you’re looking to buy something, where do you start? Like most people these days, you start with an Internet search. This is true whether buying products for personal use or for business.
The Internet can be an invaluable resource to help educate and reassure buyers that:
- they’re buying a quality product, and
- the manufacturer is a reliable and trusted source for the product.
Go With the Leaders
Consumers have any number of websites where they can go to get feedback on a product. However, if you’re buying software to run your business or machinery for your plant, Amazon.com is not going to help. You need to look elsewhere, and for me that starts with the industry leaders. By that I don’t just mean the 800 lb. gorillas. To be specific, I want to buy from companies that can lead me into the future. I look for companies with quality products and up-to-date technology that have demonstrated both product and industry knowledge. They should have a good reputation for customer service and must be able to educate and support me through the buying cycle.
As a marketer, I want my customers to have these same assurances, and I want to be able to convey my company’s leadership position to potential buyers and channel partners through multiple sources. To be clear, I’m not talking about a misrepresentation of a company’s value, but an honest effort to show potential buyers what a company has to offer above and beyond the product. When I find equal products that can do the job, it’s those extra pieces that will often sway my decision.
Market Your Expertise
Many technology companies don’t take the opportunity to market their expertise, but instead choose to focus too much on product-related issues. Industry leadership requires companies to start with quality products and superior service, then move beyond that to demonstrate their expertise and authority within their industry.
Prior to the Internet and social media, technology companies demonstrated this by speaking at conferences, participating in industry events, publishing articles in trade magazines, writing whitepapers, etc. While many of these are still valuable, the fact is that the venues have changed considerably over the last ten+ years: there are fewer trade shows and conferences, fewer publications in print, and fewer opportunities to be directly in front of a large number of customers. The Internet has replaced many of the older marketing channels with new ones that provide more effective and lower-cost ways to reach your target customers.
New Online Marketing Opportunities
In place of public speaking, publish educational content on your website, not only about your products but also about market trends, emerging technologies, government regulations, and industry events. Put these in a blog (and keep it up to date), and push links out through relevant social media channels. Instead of publishing whitepapers in trade journals or case studies in magazines that no longer exist, put them on your website and use them as a source for generating leads. Write articles for online magazines, guest blog for channel partners, produce instructional and informational videos, publish on LinkedIn, and host Webinars to inform potential customers about market and technology changes that could affect their business.
Benefits of Online Marketing
The benefits of using the Internet and social media channels to establish and promote your leadership position are many, and include:
- the ability to build brand loyalty and trust among customers and partners,
- the opportunity to generate more leads and increase sales,
- the ability to attract new channel and alliance partners,
- the addition of new capabilities and skill sets within the company, and of course,
- an enhanced position for your company and your products within your industry.
With a genuine effort to provide value and help to others, I believe you’ll be well rewarded for your efforts and position your company for long-term success.