Let’s face it: creating an effective marketing plan can be a cumbersome challenge under any circumstance. Tailoring that plan to be successful within the IT realm requires an additional layer of expertise. To help, we’ve compiled a quick and easy guide which outlines five basic steps to a successful IT marketing plan:
1. Focus on your Target Market
Yes, they’re IT professionals, but to whom specifically would you like to send your message? Is your company best suited to serve an SMB market, an Enterprise market, or something in between? Which vertical is most advantageous for you? Who would benefit most from the product or service being offered?
Once you’ve established your target market, get to know them. What do typical purchasing and behavior patterns look like for your consumers? Who are your favorite customers, and how do you get more of them? Take the time to create detailed and thorough buyer personas for these targets– you’ll be thankful that you did this down the road.
2. Find your Competitive Advantage
With a thorough understanding of your target market, their needs, desires, and typical buying patterns, it’s time to ask a tough question: why you?
The concept of self-serving bias teaches that we’re all a bit less wonderful than we think we are, and . the reality of the situation is that buyers will scan the market objectively and quickly. Often times, they complete the vast majority of their research online, before they ever engage with you or your company.
Many segments of the IT market are highly saturated, and product offerings often overlap. As a marketer, it is invaluable to understand what is most important to your target consumer (again: think buyer personas). Then, position yourself as the best fit to meet those needs.
What does your company do exceptionally well? What can you offer that others do not? What skills, qualifications, and services set you apart? At the end of the day, why should your target market purchase from you, and not your competitor?
Clear, concise reasons are best here: research shows that impressions are made in as little as 2.6 seconds – not exactly an abundance of time to gain the interest of a prospect.
3. Form a Robust, Integrated Plan
A one-size fits all approach is a sure-fire way to get chucked into the “Spam” folder. To attract (and keep!) the interest of your target market, be cognizant of their varying preferences and needs, and incorporate those into your marketing plan. Use a mix of inbound and outbound tactics, and incorporate both traditional and digital marketing methods into your plan. Buyers are unique, so your marketing plan should be, too. A comprehensive plan ensures that your company will reach all segments of your target market, increase awareness, and help guide prospects through the buyer’s journey.
4. Fine-tune your Messaging
Use the detailed buyer personas from above to construct your messaging. For example, if you’re targeting C-level executives at small security firms, your message should be drastically different than one which targets Cloud Engineers at a Fortune 500.
“Cookie-cutter” content has a low success rate for a reason: it feels lazy and impersonal. Buyers are far more likely to interact with a company that appears capable, service-oriented, and client-focused. The ability to relate and resonate with your buyer is crucial – putting a little time and effort into customization of your messaging now will yield an exponentially greater result in the future.
5. Formulate S.M.A.R.T Goals and KPIs
I know, I know – you’ve heard this before. Set S.M.A.R.T goals. You’ve probably sat through a lecture (or seven) on the topic, but have you really taken it to heart? Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the most successful marketing plans are not only those that have a defined target market, strong message, and current action plan, but also work toward a long-term goal.
To refresh your memory, the S.M.A.R.T acronym stands for the following: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Goals which contain these attributes hold us accountable, keep us in touch with the bottom line, and help us to remain focused in both the short and the long term.
By answering the questions above, you’ll be well on your way to the formulation of a successful marketing plan. Download our Marketing Plan Template to help you get a head start. If you need any additional help creating your marketing plan, reach out to us for a personal consultation.