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Marketing at IT companies, joy or burden?

The IT industry and performing marketing, it seems like a necessary evil. The industry is originally, of course, very focused on technology, solving and showing how great everything can work. I regularly see a post on LinkedIn about an innovative term or service, and then the commenter says, “Surely made up by marketing again?”

Where does this difficult marriage between IT and marketing come from? It seems like a must. But that’s what it is – IT companies need to get serious about setting up AND executing their marketing. How intensely you conduct marketing depends, among other things, on your ambition, the market, your growth, the organisation and the stage of life your organisation is in. The fact is that every healthy business must do something with marketing.

In the past, marketing proved to be of limited use in the IT sector. Because of the lack of IT knowledge in many organisations, customers came naturally to you as an IT company. Word of mouth, but also simply the neighbor at the company’s premises, or through networking events of a municipality or region. Distinctions were also unnecessary. Demonstrating knowledge, expertise and skill was enough, and if that seemed good enough, you soon found yourself in talks.

A thousand in a dozen

And over the years a lot of IT companies and providers have emerged in the Netherlands – which are actually very similar. And if there are any distinctions at all, they are based primarily on the technology deployed, or the knowledge available. And that’s also how you find clients, because clients can assess your expertise very well.

Your website does not have to be an information center of the tools and resources you deploy. How you built IAAS services or modern workplace is certainly interesting and distinctive, but … only later in his buying process. And of course you are an IT company and you provide IT services, but so do many more IT companies these days.

Distinction from competitors is then minimal, and that’s how you end up a Red Ocean as an IT company.

In many organisations, marketing and sales take place based on price and service, not on the value and development of your customers.

Your customer, who is that?

And that’s where another shoe wrings. Because of the technical content positioning and offerings, it didn’t matter so much what types of organisations became customers. Cloud infrastructure can just as easily run applications for a transportation company as for an accountant. The technology is the same and it works well.

But of course, the dynamics and value to those organisations is vastly different. One organisations has a demanding and dynamic operation; the other, on the contrary, has a stable organisations based on data security. And so your client portfolio is full of different types of organisations. So who is your customer? And what is the similarity between those customers?

Because that’s where your marketing really starts – understanding which organisations you provide what distinctive value to.

Find your customer

That sounds like an open door, but that door is very closed at a lot of IT companies. Of course, there is a lot of operational contact with your customers. But how often do you have a conversation with your client about his organisations? About how he does it, how he handles his work and what he runs into. You learn the value of your IT solutions by knowing your client’s organisations and operations. What else can you help him with, looking to the future?

And if you know that, you can convey that to new customers. And to the audiences that your peers operate in – because that’s where you as an organisations can make the difference for your potential customer. The customer himself no longer has to make the translation from your technology and services, to his organisations. You can target him with information relevant to his situation, organisations and market development.

You do this by clearly focusing on who your ideal customer is. If you know that, you can approach the market through social media, data intelligence and at events. And then the process of informing them, and convincing them that they should start the conversation with you begins.


Do you want to know more or have a talk? Plan a call with Thijs van Hofwegen, the founder of Force21.

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