This month’s BrandingWire assignment is a provider of IT services and a real company. Before I launch into the brief, I would like to share a disclaimer with the group.
My current day job has me in charge of branding, marketing and public relations for a well known IT infrastructure and services company.
Given the potential conflict of interest with this request, and my focus on conversation, I will offer some assistance to the marketing manager at this Canadian small high tech services company in the form of conversation.
The Three C’s – Company, Customers, Challenge
The company is admittedly very hands on and into all things IT –- from network maintenance to emergency work, hardware and software procurement to consulting. An area in which they’d like to expand is Green IT for sustainable solutions.
They appeal to local and regional small to medium size businesses –- among which you may find many non profits, usually the types of organizations that will not have a department or staff in house. As has been my experience with working in a non profit, the accounts payable department can be a little slow. It’s good that they diversified their portfolio to include also firms in financial and account services to commercial real estate, health care and retail.
The company’s billing is quite flexible -– by project and by the hour -- yet they still seem to run into issues in trying to convince the businesses they serve that their rates are fair for the value they provide. The marketing manager states that the company gives great customer service.
Let’s Flesh Out the Challenge
The request to BrandingWire seems twofold:
- Help the company’s current customers see the value in the services price point. “This may be an inherent problem in the industry (it’s known that IT is on average never properly budgeted for),” says the marketing manager, “but EDS and other huge IT corporations don’t seem to have a problem. We want them to see us as a partner for their business, not just an ‘IT repair service’.”
- Reach new prospects who already understand the business importance of IT services and may be willing to pay for the company’s services. “Get them to pick us above our competitors for our value-added work.”
Make me Feel the “it” Factor
The belief that the company supplies great customer service needs to be validated. Are customers saying it or is the company? Do customers read the detailed log that comes with the monthly bill, for example? Do they see value in such report? When are customers feeling the love -- at 3AM if something goes horribly wrong? How would you go about collecting evidence and feedback?
You would then be able to use that feedback and testimonials to start a dialogue with prospects. If we step back for a moment and take a look at the universe of businesses in the company portfolio we may identify a type of business that relies more on technology for its day to day operations. Would it pay off to focus on having a deeper conversation on applications and critical data with those businesses? Another thought for consideration might be narrowing the scope of what the company works on and specializing it by researching more closely what the market needs.
Your turn, what are your thoughts on marketing IT services? Do you have a preferred provider? Why do you like them? What would make you value a company in this space? We all get the value of rescue when a disaster occurs, what about on the day to day operations?
A brand is built both on the company's characteristics and the perceptions of what the company does in the marketplace -- scarcity and demand are just one of the considerations. Other approaches can be found on the blogs of fellow BrandingWire team members -- Becky Carroll, Martin Jelsema, Kevin Dugan, Patrick Schaber, Steve Woodruff, Drew McLellan, Gavin Heaton, Lewis Green, and Oliver Blanchard. This month we have three guest bloggers joining in -- Matt Dickman, Chris Brown, and Cam Beck.