With a predicted 20% increase in the global market for cloud based security products (Gartner, 2016), this month we focus on the rise of cloud-based service providers on Flourish PR’s home turf and some of the communication pitfalls B2B tech brands can get into once that first stage of growth has been achieved.
The Thames Valley area has seen an exponential growth in cloud-based service providers, with many of the Top 100 growth companies coming from this sector. As these companies grow, the brand and communication challenges they face can potentially stall growth, especially in an increasingly competitive environment. So, what are some of the potential hallmarks for successful communications and brand management once the first stage of growth has been achieved?
Put yourself in the customers’ shoes – technology companies tend to be, quite rightly, product oriented often created by evangelists of a technology or innovation, but this often comes at the cost of customer orientation, a must for survival and growth. As tech companies grow they must ask how they address the key needs and desires of their customer base and ensure that key personnel are able to empathise with customers and grasp the key concepts of customer engagement.
Sell the knowledge not the product development – as a huge amount of time and effort is put into beta development of technology products, the temptation is to make this the ‘news’ aspect of your company, but ideas and information are more likely to lead to sales if they focus on the current product portfolio. Knowledge leadership can and should be much broader than existing product development. Ask what business issues you can input into, regardless of whether they are technology focused. GDPR is a good example of a current business topic that many tech companies can add expertise to.
Talk your clients’ language – whilst the tech sector has its own culture, language and norms, clients will have their own way of doing things and their own conversations to be part of. Whether public sector, energy, professional services or health, know your B2B market like the back of your hand and relate your product to the needs driving specific sectors as well as generic business drivers. Know key dates in their industry calendar, legislative changes affecting their landscape or key stats in their market and tailor communication to empathise with these.
Ditch cool for consultancy – adopting the right tone of voice when it comes to a B2B brand is vital. Whilst appearing ‘state-of-the art’ and creating excitement around the technology behind a product is key, B2B tech brands also need to build a sense of trusted advisor or thought leadership which can require communication of a different sort. As the market grows, product differentiation naturally graduates towards the service offering around products and those tech brands who lean more towards the look of a professional services provider may find themselves in a stronger position than ‘too cool for school’ tech brands who have taken more look and feel from the consumer tech market.
Remember your employee brand – predictably all the evidence suggests that the employment market for technology talent is getting increasingly competitive as the market grows. B2B tech companies need to ensure that their brand, marketing and communication address this issue moving forward, creating company reputations that are likely to win the war for future talent.