The Importance of Marketing
Guest blog by Per Werngren
Let’s talk about partner channel marketing!
During this Coronavirus crisis, we’re all learning that most in-person meetings can easily be replaced with video conference calls. If all parties are motivated, it will work.
I guess that even after this virus has been defeated, we will continue to meet over video and not travel as much as before. This will affect marketing too, and we will need to ramp up our digital marketing efforts.
Today, prospects will go through 60-70% of the sales process by themselves, and this means that when they’re ready to talk to you, they will be better educated and have a pretty clear understanding of their needs and what you can do for them. This is both good and bad. It is terrible if you are not visible because you will lose business to your competitors. It is good when you take advantage of digital marketing and fully embrace all the possibilities. When you do it right, you will realize that the cost of customer acquisition will go down.
I suggest that you ditch all traditional physical marketing material. No need to send out physical brochures, and I also question, for our industry, the need to advertise in physical magazines and newspapers.
Instead, you should go all digital and make sure that everything that you do around marketing is online. Perhaps one important exception is tradeshows. Sometimes there are compelling events like conferences where you want to sign up as an exhibitor if you sense that your target audience will be there and the cost for attending makes sense.
Potential customers, and as well as existing ones, want to see less of a sales pitch and more of a conversation so your marketing efforts characteristics will need to change.
Building a relationship with your audience is critical. This means that you should bet heavily on social media where perhaps LinkedIn will make the most sense for you if you sell to companies (B2B). If you sell to consumers (B2C), then Facebook and Instagram might be your best fit.
Telling authentic stories and educating your audience often works as a way to capture attention. You should try to find a person inside your company or outside, that is a great writer and that can create compelling content.
It’s hard to talk about marketing without mentioning PR. Yes, I know that it’s theoretically not really part of marketing, but when you become great at PR, you will realize that it will give your business a boost! When journalists write about your company, the message will become so much stronger than if you would say it yourself in your marketing effort.
Nurturing relationships with journalists and constantly feeding them with information about your industry as well as about your business will pay off. But it will take some time, and it’s easy to give up too soon!
I’ve been in business and running my own companies for quite some time now, and I’ve always been keen to invest heavily in marketing and sales. My learnings are that a well-functioning marketing engine will help you find customers more efficient than if you’re leaning too much on just sales reps.
Too many companies rely on their salespeople to find prospects, qualify them, and close the deals, which often involves lots of in-person meetings. And not all meetings are close-by which so extensive and time-consuming travel might be needed.
Depending on the nature of your business, you might still need traditional salespeople, but more and more partners discover new ways for how to sell online successfully, and some use real subject matter experts that are recruited from the vertical that they serve, like nurses selling to health-care, etc., accountants or controllers selling ERP systems, etc.
If you still see a need for traditional salespeople, then it’s time to make them more productive. The low hanging fruit ‘Post Corona’ will be, to a larger degree than ever before, to instead travel virtually by Microsoft Teams which will increase efficiency as your people will be able to hold more meetings per day, and it will also be easier to pull in experts to the meetings which might increase quality and shorten the sales cycle.
Your marketing engine will be super important as your salespeople are way too expensive to engage in old fashioned traditional cold calling. Your marketing efforts will identify prospects and send qualified leads to your salespeople, which means that they can focus their time better.
I see that marketing and sales need to be integrated so that processes are aligned. In smaller companies, it can be the same person leading both efforts, and in larger companies, you will need separate departments. However, they still need to work together in an integrated manner. Clever and innovative marketing done the digital way will take your company to new heights.
In order to become tomorrow’s winner, it will be essential to make some hard prioritizations for the short term but also to think about the longer term. Being short of cash is actually a great opportunity to restart your business, and my advice is to take the opportunity to focus your business and get rid of all distractions. Identify what services, projects, products, or verticals that you are truly great at and get rid of everything else. Get rid of everything else so that you can focus better. I say it again, get rid of EVERYTHING ELSE except what you are truly great at. This is a hard choice, but after this crisis, it will be both easier than ever before, but also even more important, and this is probably my best advice for how to safeguard your company’s future, and it will also make your marketing efforts easier as the messaging will be more crisp.
‘Post Corona,’ we will see many companies in our industry struggling, and cashflows has taken a big hit. Some companies will go into bankruptcy, some companies will be acquired by others, and some companies will flourish and become tomorrow’s winners! Champions are built during hardship, and a recession fosters the ones that are the most innovative and best at their game!
About the Author
Per Werngren is a serial entrepreneur in IT for 25+ years. Per has built and led companies and organizations in Sweden, the UK, and the USA. He is specialized in P2P, the Microsoft ecosystem, and in building modern cloud businesses with a focus on recurring revenue. Per took the IAMCP as WW President (5 terms) from 4 to 44 countries, and revenue recognized by IDC to $10BN annually and created the P2P Maturity Model, validated in whitepapers by IDC. Per is the CEO of Redmond based cloud monitoring company Awakish.