Getting the message out: Steps to technology marketing
By Barbara Bix and
Tech startups have great ideas, boundless energy and capped resources. Focus
is key to exploiting resources for the maximum marketing impact. Here are seven
strategies to get the best return on a marketing investment:
1. Identify and specify your target market. Identify your target market early.
You can use up a lot of time, energy and dollars trying to be all things to all
people. Pick one audience to focus on and then marshal your resources to pursue
it. This group may be those customers that are most profitable, those that are
easiest to acquire, or those that are the easiest to serve.
your target market so that you can concentrate your
firepower, optimize your resources, and create buzz
about your company and product. Follow through and
maintain that focus by consistently speaking to that
target market’s needs.
Understand where your market is in its life cycle.
In “Crossing the Chasm,” Geoffrey Moore
illustrated that companies at different stages have
different buying criteria and behaviors. He pointed
out that the innovator market wants new technology
right away and will “forgive ludicrous omissions
in functionality.” The early majority market,
in contrast, is risk-averse.
savvy marketers will approach these customer groups
differently. When targeting innovators, marketers
will get to market as soon as possible. When focusing
on the early majority, they will delay until they
can deliver well-developed products and testimonials
from brand-name customers.
Recruit the right team. Marketing requires many skills — setting
product strategy, creating compelling communications
programs and often selling or supporting sales of
early accounts. It can be difficult to find all of
these qualities in one person, so focus on hiring
the marketing team that best meets the unique needs
of your target market.
companies often choose to hire full-time marketing
executives, a better solution for many startups is
hiring consultants with marketing expertise in specific
areas. While venture-backed firms often require a
seasoned professional just to attract funding, bootstrapped
firms may be better off using a portfolio of people
until they determine which skill set is most needed
to gain traction.
consider the needs of your target market. For example,
your best hire when serving innovators may be a strategic
marketer who can determine which features are essential
because this group wants exciting technology as soon
as possible. On the other hand, when targeting the
risk-averse, recruit a professional with strong marketing
communications expertise who can widely promote your “tried-and-true” product.
Erect barriers to entry.
for a strategic advantage that will cement your place
and erect barriers to entry. The first-mover advantage
is a myth. In most markets, it is possible for a
well-funded competitor to swoop in, capitalize on
your idea and crowd out the market leader. Therefore,
the only way to keep competitors at bay is to create
barriers to entry. Some ways that you can do this
include developing and filing patents; locking up
exclusive rights with distribution channels; negotiating
long-term contracts with major customers; and maintaining
Select the appropriate market entry strategy.
very nature of the product can determine the best
market entry strategy. Some products, such as applications
software, can be modified fairly easily. A winning
strategy is to get to market as soon as possible
after some initial market research, obtain user feedback,
refine the product, and quickly move down the learning
products, such as hardware and biotechnology, can
be very expensive and unprofitable if you don’t
do the market research first. Even minor modifications
insisted upon by customers after the product launch
could involve costly redesign and jeopardize product
Promote business impact, not features.
promoting your product, speak about benefits to the
customer rather than product features. Especially
in a tight economy, businesses must justify every
dollar they spend.
win over decision-makers, you’ll want to describe
how your product will increase their revenues, cut
costs or improve competitive advantage. A winning
strategy is to create case studies and gather testimonials
that emphasize how your product solved customers’ issues,
using information on features and functionality only
as supporting information.
Create marketing systems to track and measure progress.
can you assess whether your marketing programs are
working and whether you are optimizing your resources?
Creating marketing systems to track and measure outcomes
is key to determining:
marketing tactics delivered the best results at
the lowest costs
promotions drove sales
response rates and costs for direct mail, telemarketing,
trade shows and webcasts.
your systems help you identify which marketing approaches
work best, you can replicate them with new prospects
and have the satisfaction of knowing that you are
spending your marketing budget wisely.