The 4 Biggest Marketing Mistakes Technology Companies Make

Mistake #1: The CEO, COO, CTO, Sales VP, Public Relations Co. and Product Technologists think that they are Marketers.

It is very important to have these people involved in the planning and content development process, but they should not be directing, creating, refining or deciding upon final content for the website, advertising, brochures, data sheets, business presentations, etc. It is often the mistake of smaller companies to top-down micromanage marketing, and larger companies to all together lose the involvement of leadership.

The C-level team and technologists should be providing expert opinion and reaction to the materials being developed. Public Relations operate best when working in partnership with marketing. The marketing team should be refining and polishing its work based on everyone’s input. There is difference between input and direction. Try not to direct, but recommend. A smart marketing group will incorporate the best of thinking in the creative output.

Mistake #2: Foundational Marketing Basics are Not in Place.

We cannot tell you how many companies do not have the basics ready before developing a campaign. Basics include a marketing plan, with a well-defined and unique positioning, target market knowledge, goals and pathways to market. A brand guide is also necessary prior to campaign development. These include guidelines for brand voice, tone, personality and mission, along with logo, font, a color palette and image usage guidelines. Prior to materials development a creative brief is necessary so everyone understands the objectives and parameters of the assignment.

A technology company’s website and other marketing tools should not be an encyclopedia of in-depth, incomprehensible information, nor should they feel and look too slick and superficial. A great marketing team understands that the brand needs to be consistently represented and integrated throughout all channels and content should always provide for a balance of compelling and easy-to-comprehend information that answers the challenges of the target market(s).

Mistake #3: The Company is Out of Touch with What Motivates the Target Market.

Instead, they produce materials they are subjectively motivated by. A common mistake is getting too close to the work and not stepping back to reassess an ever-changing market place. Have touch points changed…has the audience changed, have new competitive forces entered the arena? Research, testing and response measurement should be an ongoing exercise.

Often companies forget that the way people think about a brand does not make them act. The way they feel about a brand does. Especially the way a brand makes them feel about themselves. Does the marketing make them feel more in control, better performing, more secure or empowered?

Experienced marketers understand that feelings drive behavior. All the information in world will not matter if you have not captured their imagination, engaged them in your vision and offered them answers to their needs.

Mistake #4: Not Knowing How Much to Spend, What to Spend On and When to Spend.

When we are brought into an assignment, about 75% of the time, no one can give us a budget. We are not sure why people approach budgeting like it’s rocket science, but we are sure they just don’t want to be wrong, and definitely don’t want to overspend. Try these simple rules of thumb for spending:

How much? – Depending on what stage and category of business your company is in, marketing budgets can range from 1% to 30% of sales. New companies may spend as much as 50% of sales for introductory marketing program in the first year. The most popular method is setting an average allocation of 9-12% of the annual budget with smaller businesses as going much lower. Another method is to ascertain what your competitors are spending.

What? – The overall budget should be spent on website development and updating, print/online and broadcast advertising, e-marketing, apps, social media, search engine optimization, design and printing costs for all sales collateral, press releases and direct-mail costs, public relations, trade shows and other special events.

When? – Budgets are generally segmented quarterly and/or annually. Spending should be timed in preparation for product or service launches, around important trade shows and seasonal buying trends taken into account. Public relations and print require a minimum of three months lead-time.

Take a look at your company and see where it may be falling short. Who knows you may be one of the rare few that just got it all right. If so, chances are you’re in the black.

Sagon-Phior, a digitally integrated brand communications firm, has worked with over 50 technology companies, from global giants like Sony, Microsoft, AMD and Panavision to companies on a transformational growth path such as SOA Software, Blue Coat Systems and Aegis/PeopleSupport. When developing marketing programs for companies, we have noticed common pitfalls that can easily be avoided to attain more successful outcomes.

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