Marketing Your Product/Service vs. Your Company
Marketing Mistake: Placing the focus on marketing your services—but not enough on marketing your company
In many technology markets where significant customer education is required due to the complexity and/or the newness of the technology involved, it’s quite common for technology companies to place a considerable amount of their marketing focus on selling the general technology—but very little focus on marketing their company. That is, they spend a large portion of their attention and resources communicating what the technology is, how it works, and why it’s superior to other technologies. They may do a fine job of convincing the customer that the technology is viable, reliable, and well-suited to solve their specific needs—but they fail to convince the customer that they are the best company to provide this technology.
Your Company vs. Your Technology
Unless they’re the sole owner of this technology (rarely the case these days), companies that focus too much of their marketing on their products end up helping their competitors by accelerating the customer’s sales cycle—but not winning the actual business. Significant time invested in educating the customer on the technology may not always result in convincing them that you’re the best company to provide the technology. Before you can sell your technology, you have to sell your company. Many smaller technology companies are especially reluctant to focus any attention on their company because they don’t want customers to know how small they are, or that they outsource their development, for example. They’re much more comfortable talking about their technology. And their marketing reflects this (see sidebar).
This isn’t limited to small companies, though. Many larger technology companies also fail to market their company as well as they market their technology.
Steps To Avoid This Mistake
Define and tell your company story.
Do your sales presentations and/or sales collateral start off with topics focused on “About Us” or “Our History”? While your company story is vital, it’s important not to make the story all about you. A truly compelling company story isn’t all about your history, how great you are, how big you are, how experienced you are, how global you are, or how much market share you have.
Instead, tell your story by focusing on your customers. Your company is chartered with helping customers solve a specific problem or set of problems—or to achieve a specific challenge or goal. Focus on the customer experience before you existed—and why you were founded to change that customer experience and results.
Find and leverage the positives.
Find the positive elements that help make you attractive and/or unique—and leverage them. (For example, if you’re a small company: greater attention to customers, more flexibility, stronger focus on singular product, etc.). If you’re a new company and don’t have much history, explain the background of the founders and why they chose this time to start a new company. While you don’t need to emphasize your young age or small business size, you don’t need to deny it, either. Every highly successful company was young and small once. And younger companies can often respond more quickly to the latest innovations, technologies, and methodologies while avoiding the technology strategies that have turned into negative challenges for older companies (e.g., basing their solution on technology that is becoming obsolete).
The bottom line is: make the effort to create a compelling story that focuses on your customers (not all about you)—and helps those customers come to understand what makes you uniquely qualified to better understand and address their needs and challenges.