Especially on the technical side of client accounts, it’s a common occurrence to meet a company that’s clearly among the experts in their space but unsure of how to market themselves. In many of these cases, the space in which they operate could be highly niche and separated by several degrees from the public eye. Often times, these companies make the products that go into the products that make the products that most people know and use every day.
The common course of action for companies who find themselves in this position is to rely solely on direct sales. And understandably so. A talented, experienced sales team who knows the industry inside and out, and has spent years and years developing relationships with contacts at all the various players within the industry can be a dependable rainmaker for a technical organization. The only problem here is when that is a company’s sole source of outreach. It’s important to cast a wider net by developing a well-orchestrated thought leadership strategy in order to go after the fish that aren’t directly in your sales team’s sights, as well as control your reputation and brand equity beyond what others are saying about you.
If you are a technical organization thinking about expanding beyond your direct sales efforts, the following steps should help you get off the ground.
Step 1: Admit that you are an expert
The first step is simply to realize the value of the expertise that your company possesses. As a technical company, it’s sometimes hard to see past your immediate circle and realize that there is a wider demand for your knowledge beyond just your current customers.
Step 2: Join the larger conversation
If you aren’t already doing it, go out to find and join the conversations other members of your industry are currently having with each other. Technical companies sometimes cringe at the thought of social media. But there is a lot of information exchange happening on social platforms that you can take advantage of, especially if you use the right platform. Do your research and see what people are talking about. Follow influencers, build your network, and share and comment on the posts that interest you.
Step 3: Identify your contributions and your contributors
Figure out where you can contribute to this conversation. Look inside your company for developing technologies you can talk about, or ways your company’s products or services are influencing a larger trend. Also, find your subject matter experts. Who are the champions of your company’s technologies? Who are the technical experts with the knowledge you’d like to show off to the world? Chances are, they’d be prime candidates to comment on current trends or offer input to a trade magazine feature article.
Step 4: Make a plan
Once you identify your list of topics, make a calendar with plans for producing and pushing out content showcasing your knowledge on these topics. Be sure to include with your plans how you plan to publish your content. Is it an article with wide appeal to the industry? If so, a relevant trade journal might be a good fit. Is it a white paper demonstrating in-depth one of your company’s products? Consider “gating” this white paper on your company website and posting links on your social channels to garner attention and gather valuable sales leads.
Step 5: Steady does it
Especially with your owned media (blogs, podcasts, etc), it’s important to establish a regular rhythm at which viewers can expect new articles or episodes to be published, and then stick with it. Marketing this way has a cumulative effect, and it takes commitment to a steady and regular schedule of content in order to build your following and establish your credibility. If at first you don’t see life changing results, don’t despair! Stick with your plan, and pretty soon you’ll be able to watch the needle move in your favor.
There you have it. While I hope this helps, I also know it’s easier said than done. What other questions do you have? Feel free to reach out!