Building a brand reputation and developing a strong client base for your IT company can seem daunting. You’re in an oversaturated industry selling services that your target audience may not understand. How do you market a tech company effectively — and without breaking the bank? How can you cut through the noise and prove your authority?
IT agencies have unique marketing needs. Thankfully, with today’s variety of digital tools and marketing channels, it’s possible to promote your tech agency in a more engaging way.
The 2 types of marketing for IT companies
Marketing is a highly complex endeavor that covers everything from paid ad campaigns to email newsletters to the brochures you hand out at industry events. This is a lot to chew on, especially once you start booking clients and need to devote your time to them. When you begin developing your marketing plan for your IT agency, ask yourself two questions:
- How do I attract and keep customers?
- How do I advertise my brand?
The first question is the most important because it will help you identify your value proposition: what do your target clients seek in you, and what is it about your offering that makes them choose you? This can be a combination of your services, work style, industry niche, and so on. The first question becomes the basis of your inbound marketing strategy — how you can get potential clients’ attention and help solve their problems. Inbound marketing materials include blogs (like this one!), whitepapers, infographics, and videos.
The second question, obviously, is about advertising. While you don’t have to spend a huge amount on ads, you still need to pursue leads for your IT company. This is the basis of outbound marketing, in which you turn your value proposition into an enticing message. You then enter the spaces where your target clients spend time and grab their attention with ads, pitches, and other overt promotions.
The 7 elements of marketing and branding
Also called the “marketing mix,” the 7 elements of marketing are product, promotion, price, place, people, process, and physical evidence. These elements interact as you position yourself in your industry niche and attract your target audience. Let’s look at what each of those would be for your IT company.
Product: Your product entails all the services you provide your clients, including intangible items such as web design, cybersecurity systems, and so on.
Promotion: As mentioned above, promotion is any way that you attract new clients to your business. It’s important to promote your agency with messaging that resonates with your target audience. For example, if your IT company primarily targets high-end e-commerce entrepreneurs, your value proposition may be something like “We build stunning, mobile-friendly online shops for luxury brands.” All the language and imagery you use in promotions should reflect that value proposition.
Price: To succeed in any industry, your price must align with what people are willing to pay (bargain-hunters notwithstanding). However, your price also reflects both your levels of expertise and the luxury you offer clients. Boutique tech companies, for example, typically offer high-end services, fully customized for each client, and therefore charge more.
Place: Where can you connect with your ideal clients? You must know which publications they read, which social media platforms they use, which industry events they attend, and so on. Also, take note of which channels they prefer. For example, 73% of millennials prefer to connect with brands via email.
People: Most consumers feel suspicious about faceless companies who want their money. They want to see the humans behind the brand. This is especially true for IT agencies. To build trust, put your talented team at the forefront of your marketing efforts: an About Us page on your website, guest speakers at conventions, etc.
Process: How do you offer your services? IT companies generally use either the Done-For-You (DFY) model or the Done-With-You (DWY) model, depending on their target industries and price points. It’s important to know which model your target clients prefer. Your process also refers to the tools you use, your overall workflow, and the experience you offer your clients. These all tie into your value proposition, niche, and target audience.
Physical Evidence: Although many of your projects are somewhat intangible, you can still point to “Physical Evidence” of your qualifications and achievements. These include social proof (e.g. testimonials), metrics you’ve achieved for clients, completed website designs, and so on.
When building your marketing strategy, describe how each element plays into a given tactic. For example, if you’re trying to book clients for your cybersecurity service (Product), you’re trying to reach business owners who are worried about hackers (Promotion) but also about their budget (Price). So, you spend time in business-centric areas such as LinkedIn and local Chamber of Commerce meetups (Place), and you introduce your team of cybersecurity experts (People). You describe your Done-For-You cybersecurity plan options (Process) and highlight your success to date (1000+ malicious emails blocked, etc. — Physical Evidence.)
The top 3 marketing strategies for IT companies
There are countless ways to market your IT company, depending on your target audience, core offerings, service model, and dozens of other factors. Most tech agencies, though, need to succeed on three fronts. They need to attract customers who often don’t have a strong technical understanding of what they want, so an inbound marketing strategy focuses on solving their pain points. They also need to reach out directly to their ideal clients, which means they need to attend events, send outreach messages, and network with potential clients (outbound marketing). And of course, they need to show up on the world’s #1 search engine, where they can both rank in organic searches (inbound) and run targeted ads (outbound).
How to promote your business on Google
To attract potential customers from Google, you must make Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a key part of your strategy. What’s great about Google is that you can run several different types of campaigns:
- You can attract leads who are looking for IT services and find your company in a keyword search and/or in local business results.
- You can provide value to prospects who don’t yet know they need an IT company but start considering it once they stumble upon your content.
- You can run paid search campaigns to show your brand to leads who are actively shopping for IT companies.
We recommend focusing on the first two strategies to start, as they are considerably less expensive. The key is to figure out what information your target audience wants, then make sure you have content that Google will rank for their searches. Plus, optimize your website for business listings so you appear in Google Maps results.
Once you have a thorough understanding of your target audiences and which keywords you should target, you can start running paid campaigns.
How to promote your business on social media
The world of social media now includes about a dozen channels where you can connect with potential clients — and because nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults use social media, you can’t afford to skip this. You can deploy both an inbound and outbound approach here. First, determine where your target audience spends time. Most business owners are more active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but this depends somewhat on the industry.
Next, make a business account for your IT company. Never use a personal profile to represent a business, as this violates the Terms of Service of certain networks — and can make it harder to portray yourself as a legitimate enterprise. Regularly publish content that provides value to your audience.
Third, put the “social” in social network. Connect with others in industry-specific groups and leave valuable comments on relevant content. Try not to focus on promoting your services. (Depending on the platform, that could also be a TOS violation and will often come across as spammy.) Your goal here is to create intrigue and establish your authority. Let prospects come to you.
To incorporate outbound marketing into this strategy, run sponsored-content campaigns to get in front of new leads. If you build valuable relationships on the platform, you can send direct outreach messages. Always keep the focus on having a conversation. No one wants to be overtly sold to on social media.
How to promote your business in your community
Finally, get out into the real world and start connecting with your ideal clients. Local networking groups, industry meetups, and Chamber of Commerce events are all good ways to meet people. As with social media, focus on having valuable conversations before you launch into a sales pitch. Even if you don’t meet potential clients, consider this: the people you do meet likely know someone. They may refer them to your company once they come to trust you.
If you’re largely targeting a local audience, you might also consider affiliate marketing. Perhaps your IT company offers web design services but not branding or graphic design. You could partner with a local branding firm and refer clients to each other by offering coupons to the affiliate company and posting each other’s flyers in your place of business.
Try to obtain press coverage as well. Your community likely has a business-oriented publication that may run an article about your company. If you’re trying to reach a particular audience segment (e.g. local farmers), you can write a guest article in an industry publication or lifestyle magazine that appeals to them.
Marketing your IT company is not easy — but it’s also not impossible. While your industry and offerings are both complex, you can connect with your ideal clients by understanding their needs and aligning your tactics with those needs. Always lead by providing value. That’s much more likely to resonate with them than long, technical explanations. Remember, as an IT company, you’re uniquely qualified to solve challenging problems. Lead with that, and the rest will follow.