Over the last decade, our team has been on the front lines with some of the highest-profile brands in enterprise technology, whether it is cloud, IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT) or Big Data. We’ve seen Lilliputians grow into giants. We’ve seen giants continue to stand tall. We’ve seen giants fall on their faces. Whether you’re a startup aspiring to be a big enterprise or a big enterprise aspiring to be as agile as a startup, here are key considerations for thriving when bringing your product to market.
What makes you different? No seriously. What really makes you different?
Differentiation is the critical first step. Too often companies come to us looking for help with a pitch that is watered down and generic because they are casting too wide of a net. As a result, as small fish, they are competing with juggernauts. Pick your niche and own it. You’re not going to out-Amazon Amazon. There are things Amazon cannot do because of its size, so find that niche and own it.
You are not selling a product. You’re selling an answer to a problem.
Many brands rush into the technology space beating their chest about tech specs (speeds and feeds) without realizing that they’re selling to human beings with real challenges, dreams and goals, not robots. The winner will always be the one who listens to their customers and crafts a story to meet the needs of those customers. We call this messaging to customer pain points.
Make a memorable and relevant impression.
Let’s dissect “brand” for a moment — it’s reputation and impression. Perception is reality. Do you show up looking and sounding like an old company trying to fit in with the cool kids? Are you one of the cool kids out of place at the grown-ups’ party? When you show up wearing a pinstriped suit at a skate park, those skaters are going to struggle to take you seriously, if not avoid you altogether. Same thing for a skater showing up at the country club, though these days the Zuckerberg hoodie is becoming the next Brooks Brothers’ suit. That said, it’s all about knowing your audience and speaking in a tone they can relate to backed by a look and feel that resonates.
Make sure your marketing team is fluent in your technology and intimately understands your target buyers.
Enterprise technology is a foreign language for those who don’t live and breathe this space every day. Imagine needing to develop a native marketing campaign for buyers in Tokyo, yet your team doesn’t know Japanese or understand Japanese business habits. You have three choices: decline, fake it until you make it, or hire an expert. Often times, I feel our agency is a refugee camp for CMOs victimized by agencies faking expertise in tech and, quite frankly, in the nuances of B2B marketing. In walking around enterprise tech shows and airports, we’re surrounded by brands whose message has been diluted to the point of being the equivalent of a song for Japanese toddlers, not Japanese CIOs. Relevance and fluency is critical if you want to be taken seriously.
Speedboat vs. Barge
This is a convenient cliché for small businesses competing with the large global elite, but the demands of the fast-changing enterprise tech landscape requires a agile, fast-moving, smart and versatile team. Spending six months in “Discovery” to launch a product that will be out of date as soon as it’s introduced is a suicide pact. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.
We’re living in an era of digital transformation, which rivals that of the industrial revolution where the old ways of doing things is the easiest way to fall behind. Today’s enterprise buyer is younger, savvier, being catapulted to the top of the C-suite food chain, expected to deliver value, stability, and security and a platform for innovation. The tools for doing such are evolving in real time, and with the rise of Internet of Things, 5G networks and the criticality of cybersecurity, the revolution will soon accelerate even faster. Make sure you have a marketing team and agency, which is informed and ready to react and win.
Gus Granger is CEO of 70kft, a Dallas-based agency specializing in enterprise technology. This was originally written as a featured blog for the 2017 eMerge Americas technology conference.