The world as we know it will end at the stroke of midnight January 1, 2000! Remember that doomsday warning? Fast forward more than a decade, and we’re fully into the 21st Century. In the late 1990s, the Y2K scare ushered in the IT outsourcing boom. With too many computer systems to update, US companies looked to Indian and Eastern European firms to enhance scarce and expensive US development resources.
Over the last decade the environment has been flooded with hundreds of outsourcing providers that look and sound alike. Economic uncertainty and the growth of the internet have made the market more complex for new vendors trying to penetrate the US market.
Misinformation about safety issues in Latin America fueled by reports about the drug war in Mexico, tainting the ecosystem and increasing the list of market barriers for Nearshore sources.
Most Nearshore software development and managed services firms were largely started by technically savvy founders who knew little about marketing. But that never seemed to matter in the past. They just hired a sales person in the US market, or sent their top executives on a business development trip. It was easy to generate business north of the border
But the selling environment has changed, and few firms that have adapted to the new realities. Most Nearshore providers are still selling like it’s 1999.
Five Ways the Marketing Rules Have Changed:
1. Customers Have Been Empowered by the Internet
- Customers are now in charge. They can ignore or block your phone calls. They can delete your e-mail communications. Your customers are showing up in less numbers to industry events.
- They use the Internet to search for the vendors they want to work with. If they don’t see you online, or your website doesn’t educate or inform them, they’ll move on.
- Your sales people don’t have the opportunity to educate them and influence their thinking, because your customers have already done this for themselves.
- You must adjust to this reality. Adopt a total web presence. Provide educational information on your site. Post videos. Manage a blog and update it regularly. Stake your claim on the social media landscape.
2. Competition is a Click Away
- If prospects don’t like what they see and read on your website, your Facebook page or your Twitter profile, they’ll just hit the back button and search again.
- Create interesting content that educates and demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about.
- Talk about the problems you solve, not about the services you provide or the products you sell.
- And above all, don’t be boring.
3. Interruption Marketing Interrupted
Interruptions marketing, such as telemarketing, advertising, direct mail, e-mail blasts, are not effective anymore.
But that doesn’t mean ALL interruption marketing is ineffective.
- Don’t try to sell when you cold-call, advertise or send e-mails. Instead, use a two-step approach:
- Offer something of value. Invite prospects to a free webinar or offer them a free eBook.
- Offer a free audit on their current computing environment.
- In exchange for these free offers, get their permission to continue communicating with them so they can get to know, like and trust you, and eventually become customers.
4. Marketing to Everybody Closes Nobody
If somebody asks you “what’s your target market?” Your answer should never be “anybody with money.” If every company is your potential customer, imagine how many other hundreds of Nearshore providers can say the same thing. Instead, focus on a narrowly defined market. Find out who your ideal customers are.
- Look at your current or past customers, and find out who are the most profitable, and who refers prospects to you. Those are your ideal customers.
- Develop a customer profile based on common characteristics, then focus on marketing only to these customers and their specific needs, problems and wants.
Your sales will absolutely increase.
5. Sales People Will Not Generate Leads
If you depend on your sales staff to generate their own leads, you’re hoping for a miracle. They want to spend their time working on hot deals that will close this quarter, not generating leads.
- Hire a full-time marketing person.
- Hot leads can go directly to the sales department.
- Cold and warm cold leads can be put into a nurture marketing system. They can invite them to educational webinars. They can send links to new videos, or invite them to an in-person event next time you’re in their town.
Eventually, some of these leads will become hot opportunities that your sales people can close.
We’re now solidly in the 21st Century. The days of Y2K and selling like it was 1999 are long gone. But it seems most Nearshore providers are still doing the Time Warp.
Maybe you’re different.
Are you ready to make a change? Are you ready to commit to a total web presence, create interesting content, implement a two-step marketing approach, narrow your market focus, and hire a marketing person to generate and nurture leads for your sales team? Are you ready for marketing in the 21st Century?
Fernando Labastida is the owner of Latin IT Marketing, a content marketing consultancy helping Latin American software and nearshore providers successfully enter the US market. Check out his other article for Nearshore Americas on how LatAm outsourcers can use social media to their advantage here.