5 Essentials for Marketing In An Upswing (Hopefully) Economy

Published: March 1, 2011

With talk of the recession finally showing a light at the end of the tunnel, I recently unearthed that article in the hopes of updating it with all sorts of fresh, new insights into how to make your marketing program thrive in a post-rollercoaster business world. Well, imagine my surprise when I reviewed its content and realized I didn’t have all that much new to say after all. I guess fundamentals are just that.

Those five basic premises of essential marketing outlined in my original article not only still apply today, but I believe they are even more important guidelines than ever. For marketing professionals trying to steer their company forward in a hesitant, but upward slanting business climate, there’s no better marketing advice I can give than to stick to the following tried-and-true, “go-back-to-basics” approach:

1. Know your company’s real value

2. Know your customer

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3. Keep your salespeople well informed, well educated, and well armed

4. Stay consistently visible

5. Keep it simple


1. Know your company’s real value

As the economy gears back up and companies begin to consider where they should put their technology investment dollars, every purchase they make will continue to be scrutinized very closely. It’s even more important today to pinpoint your company’s core value proposition in order to generate sales leads and avoid getting lost in the shuffle.

While social media and other web-marketing tactics are a huge benefit to any marketing program today, it also means your target customers are being inundated with more “market noise” than ever before. No matter what the marketing channel, the same compelling message must resonate over and over again using terminology that will grab your audience’s attention and differentiate you from the competition in an instant. This may mean you’ll have to continually define and redefine your company until you find a message that hits home and starts to gain you traction in the marketplace.

2. Know your customer

The customer you once knew may have changed right along with the rest of the business world over the last few years. Today’s technological advances simply haven’t erased the need for you to put in the time to learn about your target customer and their business pains. Talk to your sales force and product teams. Learn about the specific vertical industry (or industries) your customers operate within. Then, make it a New Year’s resolution to befriend analysts and industry association thought leaders to gain their input and reaffirmation of what you think you know.

To complicate matters even further, you not only have to discover the compelling reason to buy for the executive level decision makers in your target market, but you’ll no doubt have to overcome objections from other departments as well. In most companies today, for example, the IT team has a strong voice in whatever technology investment decision the company makes. So it is often just as important to build a cost/value proposition for that team as well as to the executives. In fact, selling the IT guy or gal may ultimately be the key to clinching the deal.


3. Keep your salespeople well informed, well educated and well armed

Once you’ve crafted an irresistible value message and ensured that it reverberates with each of the decision maker groups, it’s time to transfer all your knowledge. You need to equip your sales team with everything they need to combat the inevitable question “Why should I care?” Your sales force is still the front line for your company and it’s your job to get them repeating your company’s and product’s value mantra in their sleep. They won’t stand a chance if they don’t immediately come across as sharp and informed, nor if they don’t have rapid fire responses to any questions or objections they come across.

Sales support can take many forms, but looking back over the tools outlined in my previous article, I believe most have stood the test of time and as such are worth repeating (any updates or additions are highlighted in bold):






Generated via industry events, direct marketing, webcasts, telemarketing, referrals and market presence-and then qualified thoroughly before moving to sales follow-up.

It becomes the rule, not the exception, when quality leads flow into the pipeline and turn into deals.

Sales Presentations

Encapsulate the customer problem and the vendor’s solution in as few slides as possible with a professional-looking slide template. Update every three months with some customization between updates.

Better movement to short list. Demonstrates industry knowledge and a credible solution. Increased deal closure rate.

Sales Training

Industry knowledge transfer to sales. Review of tools and their specific sales cycle uses. Conducted after hiring and once per quarter for the sales team.

Faster time to productivity for new sales hires. Better door openers. More effective in consultative selling.

Competitive Information

Sales force armed with the SWOT analysis on competitors in current sales engagements, updated continuously from win/loss analysis and other input.

Better positioned to fend off competitive FUD and position for kill shots at competitor vulnerabilities.

Industry News

Sales news alerts and information updates distributed by industry-focused sales groups.

Knowing the latest events that affect your customer’s business demonstrates credibility and creates trust.


Company and product brochures and fact sheets which are largely produced and disbursed electronically with minimal printing. Refreshed as products update. Usually every six months. Webinars, blogs and social media are now important outlets for company news and information distribution.

Enables event attendees and potential prospects to learn more about solutions to their problems. Leave-behinds are no longer an expected deliverable at sales meetings. Collateral can be emailed electronically.

Customer References

These relationships must be cultivated. The referencing customer must have the proper coaching.

A satisfied customer is your best salesperson. Executing well, in concert with references, should increase deal closures.

Analyst References

Positive relationships with these important third-party experts are critical to external validation of your solution. Routine contact and regular briefings are key.

Enhanced credibility. Many larger prospects will look to independent sources to validate vendor claims and get an objective viewpoint how a vendor offering fits their strategy.

Proposal Templates

Configurable RFP/RFI template designed to adapt to customer requirements and multiple forms of off-the-shelf customizable content. All updated at least once per year with some customization between updates.

Many larger prospect companies use RFPs and RFIs to compare solutions. Using the proposal keeps the vendor in the conversation. When not required by the vendor, an impressive proposal can move the vendor up the list or move the discussion toward your areas of strength.


4. Stay consistently visible
So, just where and how are people looking for information today? This is an area where things have probably changed the most in the last seven years. Almost everything is online, pure and simple. Yes, the print medium still exists, but it does not have nearly the return-on-investment it had. There are far most cost-effective advertising and communication vehicles at our disposal now that can have a far greater impact on visibility.

Likewise, widespread press releases are now practically passé (who has time to read an entire release anymore), substituted instead with brief online “media alerts” which are often restrained to a very targeted distribution list rather than sent out into outer space. If you do any kind of media release at all, make sure it does indeed contain something news-worthy so is likely to be picked up by other news-related websites and distributed organically. The days of issuing fluff-piece releases about nothing are long gone.

If your prospective customers are time crunched, as most of us are, they probably visit association websites to quickly digest bite-size news nuggets from across the entire industry. But no doubt many have also come to expect information to come inbound to them directly. They may opt-in to receive online newsletters, weekly blogs, or webinar invites to view presentations right from the comfort of their desk chairs.

5. Keep it simple

Technology marketing is tricky. You often have to take a complex, technical product, describe it in laymen’s terms using easy-to-grasp terminology, and at the same time make it sound so revolutionary that they are dying to learn more. Sounds easy right?

In this age of all the “iP”s, that is iPods, iPads, and iPhones, it’s easy to make the mistake of assuming that everyone is comfortable with technology. But in many industries, paper-based process are still the norm and users as well as their execs often need to baby-step their way to true process efficiency. There will be occasions when you know you’ll clearly be addressing a more knowledgeable group, of course, but then you’ll just adjust the discussion accordingly (it’s good to know this in advance if possible).

Still, I usually recommend the “less is more” more approach in all things marketing. In presentations, for example, don’t go overboard on bulleted points and page after page of text. A few slides depicting who you are, what you do, and how you solve their business problems will suffice. One overall graphic depicting your solution also helps people visualize how your product will work for them.

In putting together a well-rounded technology marketing plan, strive to keep that simple as well. Think about the four main buckets: Sales Support, Demand Generation, Publicity, and the Web. Participate in only those activities within each group that give you the most “bang for your buck” and skip the rest.

So basically if you remember to keep it short and sweet, be visible, arm your sales team, target your customer’s unique needs, and communicate a consistent, crisp and compelling value message…you should do okay.

Terry Welty is the Chief Marketing Officer for International Decision Systems. He is a technology industry marketing leader, with over 25 years of experience bringing companies to the forefront of their industry. He has led global marketing efforts for a number of technology companies, and has been instrumental in the development of innovative technology marketing strategies.

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