Or, death by a cookie-cutter approach to business and the desperate need for technology integrators to differentiate now!
We love cookies, and if we had to choose how to die, death by cookies could be a good way to go. But what we don’t love is death by cookie-cutter marketing. In my last column, I talked about the need to be a brand that people can believe in, and part of that is telling your own unique story. These days, so many technology integration firms tell the same story and use the same types of imagery on their website. In a competitive marketplace where you have lots of local competitors, it’s important to be uniquely you, and a large part of that has to do with your online presence. You simply can’t lather, rinse, repeat what the firm two blocks over is doing and expect to win big. In this column, we discuss ways to position your business against the competition, dig deeper into your company culture, lend authority to your brand, and show subtle differences that will allow you to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.
- Survey the Competition — Get your list of local competitors ready and spend a few days analyzing their messaging. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? Where is there a space in the competitive landscape to swoop in and fill a gap? How can you successfully position your company against your competitors’ messaging? For example, a small family-owned business might take the position that they deliver personalized attention to the community, whereas a larger firm might take the position that they are never too busy because they have plenty of professionals on staff to take your call. It’s all about the proper spin.
- Show Your Authority — We recently spoke with one technology integrator in Florida who said the biggest issue they face is credibility due to the proliferation of poor “integrators” who leave a project half done and even begin ghosting clients before the installation is complete. Their solution? To put their HTA Certification at the forefront of their marketing. It helps them stand apart from those disreputable “integrators” and garner more and better business. Display your certifications loudly and proudly on your website. Take a look at Sphere AV’s website — sphereav.com — where they state very clearly what they do, who they do it for, and they’ve put their HTA Certification front and center. Likewise, showcasing CEDIA and other organizational affiliations along with any awards you have won lets consumers and other trades know they can trust you. All of this lends your website and your brand authority.
- Dig Into Company Culture — People want to know your brand and believe in it. This does not mean you have to show pics of your family on vacation. What it means is that it’s important to find subtleties about your company that make you unique and bring them to the forefront, especially on social media. Perhaps this is a special connection with your local community. Or maybe it’s a certain voice of humility or aspiration that you find resonates with your customer. How does your company culture manifest itself, and how can you illustrate that to your customers?
- Take Stock of Your Photos — Pun intended. Hopefully you aren’t using the same stock photos as your competitors, and hopefully your website is light on stock photos in general. They never really do brands justice, and finding ones that are good and not dated, especially in the technology biz, is difficult. That being said, people using technology brings it to life, so consider this when you do your photo shoots, and never, ever underestimate the value of original (preferably professional) photography. Many technology integrators shy away from photo shoots, but the ones who succeed see their value and their marketing rises above the fray. When choosing talent to appear in photos, consider diversity and relatability (and be sure they sign a release form).
- Evaluate Your Marketing — Now that you’ve done a little research on your competition, turned inward to evaluate who you are as a company, and have learned the importance of showing your authority, it’s time to put all that into action. This is largely going to translate into reworking your messaging and rejiggering your website to be a more accurate representation of your brand. Your website should show who you are, what you do, and the areas you serve at a glance. And while technology integrators in your area may all do largely the same thing, it’s about infusing your messaging with subtle differences that makes all the difference. Come up with a company “one-liner” that you can put on your homepage and throughout your materials that says just what you do and who you are in one sentence, so that you don’t bounce visitors from your site before they even get to know you.
- Develop a Web Presence That Is Unique to Your Brand — Consumers have a hard enough time trying to figure out what tech they need let alone why they should buy from a particular source. This is only made worse when every site they visit looks the same and says essentially the same thing. Strive to create a website that captures the essence of your brand and that is clean, concise, and helps simplify the search and selection process.
The last bit of advice I’ll offer, at least for this column, is to be patient. It takes time to develop unique messaging and a presence that perfectly illustrates all that you and your firm are capable of. Start slow and build on it, monitor results, and adjust as needed. Not sure where to start? Give me a call or shoot me an email, I’m happy to help!
Katye McGregor Bennett is chief strategist and CEO of KMB Communications and an avid podcaster. Podcasts include Connecting Tech + Design and AV Trade Talk.