Financially Responsible Marketing

Five Insightful Growth, Innovation and Marketing Ideas for Tech Companies

Posted by on Sep 20, 2017

Imaginis’ President, Melanie Dowhaniuk and Director of Marketing, Sean Cotnam, share perspectives on key themes and ideas presented by influential speakers at the Elevate Toronto Festival 2017.


Elevate Toronto

By Melanie Dowhaniuk and Sean Cotnam

Three days, 5,000 tech industry professionals and more than 100 inspiring speakers at 70 different venues. The vibrant and engaging Elevate Toronto Festival was a strong representation of the immense support for technology, high-caliber talent and vast resources that have moved Toronto up the ranks in the tech scene. As the third largest and fastest growing technology innovation ecosystem in North America, Toronto is positioned to outpace the San Francisco Bay area and New York City.

Following an inspiring opening day, we took to the Growth and Innovation tracks on day two to hear from passionate tech industry leaders. Twenty-five pages of notes and two overflowing minds later, here are five growth, innovation, and marketing ideas for tech companies that we hope will inspire you.

 

1. Use inbound and outbound strategies to grow a global brand

We all know that sales drive every company. But how and when a company sells impacts the speed and magnitude of its growth. When you start a business you’re reaching out to people, cold calling, talking about your product to people—you’re doing all of the legwork to generate sales.

Alex Barrotti, Founder and CEO at TouchBistro has been there. When he started TouchBistro, selling was all outbound. Inbound leads didn’t start rolling in until they invested in building an inbound marketing machine to bring prospects to the company’s website and convert them to sales leads.

Barrotti believes that companies need both outbound and inbound engines working for them simultaneously and emphasizes the importance of building an inbound marketing machine in parallel with sales.

 

2. Context and positioning are ever-evolving

Whatever you’reoffering, whether it’s technology or a service, the most important thing is to make sure you’re presenting in the right context.” These are the words of April Dunford, Founder of Rocket Launch Marketing. One memorable example she shared in her talk was about a company that was presenting themselves as a database company and struggling to get any traction and sales. By taking a step back, they discovered that they were actually a business intelligence company. Identifying this differentiator and repositioning their marketing and communications around it changed the game for this company.

When looking at technology organizations, they tend to have the mentality, ‘Ok I’ve written this software and the software is going to do this.’ I would suggest that they ask themselves some important questions, including:

  • What is the end user looking for?
  • What is the context that the end-user is going to need in order to get excited about your product or service?

Doing this once isn’t enough. Positioning and context are not fixed. They are always evolving. You have to keep looking at and adapting your positioning to ensure it’s relevant to the audience. Tech companies are always updating their products, getting customer feedback and adjusting. Marketing is exactly the same. It follows the same cycle. As a product evolves, the marketing also needs to change. Think about Dropbox as an example. It started out as a place to upload and share files, now it’s reinventing teamwork.

 

3. Always test and refine your marketing and messaging

Once you’ve brought a significant number of contacts into your marketing funnel by providing relevant content in context, you’re able to look at how your content is actually affecting people. This is really important from a B2B perspective because it’s how you’re going to truly start to understand your customers and learn what’s going to turn the dial for them.

Create a hypothesis about what you’re marketing and test it from a small sample size and then depending on what works, refine it.

 

4. People are marketing opportunities

Regardless of what you’re marketing and who you’re marketing to—businesses, consumers, investors —you’re still marketing to people. Sometimes, especially in B2B tech, we lose sight of that and the fact that companies are made up of people. Without people, there is no business.

Farhan Thawar, Co-Founder & CTO of helpful.com shared an interesting perspective on people. Building a successful company is not just having a high powered sales team, a solid online presence and buzzing social media – it’s the people too. Your people are the ones who champion your product to the world. They’re the ones who communicate with the customers and the customers are the ones that will tell other potential customers about you.

Innovative companies like helpful.com are considering the people that work for them as marketing opportunities. It’s easy to get hung up and laser-focused on marketing a product or service, when in fact, perhaps we should be marketing the people that create, sell and support the product or service. There’s an opportunity there.

 

5. Technology needs marketing

What is clear to us at Imaginis is that growth and innovation go hand in hand with marketing. As Hana Abaza, Head of Marketing, Shopify Plus, explained: If you have anything complicated or disruptive you need to make sure you have marketing.”

B2B tech companies face some unique challenges that Abaza identified, including:

  • Acquisition is difficult
  • The customer pool is smaller and requires laser-focused targeting
  • Marketing is more expensive
  • Quality leads are needed (not just volume)

To add to this, B2B tech companies especially need to be positioned effectively to grow and attract customers, investors and top talent. I’m aligned with Abaza in her belief that “The language is one of the most important pieces.” We’ve seen first-hand when the language is right, the significant impact content makes for tech companies.

 

Where to go from here

Our perspective, supported by many of the speakers and sessions at Elevate this year, is that tech companies that want to grow fast and innovate need marketing support that is ongoing and runs in parallel with product development.

As TouchBistro’s Barrotti emphasized, “Even with a great track record you need to prove yourself ongoing.” Marketing is not a one-time project.  It needs to be consistent and evolving for your business to stay relevant. You can’t just “set it and forget it” if you want to grow and thrive.

We often see tech companies focus so much on building and innovating their products that marketing is an afterthought. Ideally, marketing is done in parallel with sales. There’s no marketing “on switch” that will have leads rolling in instantly. Effective marketing takes time, so start now.

A marketing partner that understands the ins-and-outs of B2B and tech marketing can help increase success and growth through proven, effective content and smart marketing strategies. Reach out and talk to us about your marketing.