Why Doesn’t Every Integrator Get It?

beyond-stock-logoIt is amazing how many people don’t see the value in investing in marketing. It annoys me since I am so passionate about it. With that being said, I am lucky enough to work for a company that believes in our brand and our commitment to position ourselves to our clients as a leader in the industry.

Did you know that marketing your company doesn’t have to be hard or expensive? With a little creativity you can generate some serious interest that can lead to additional traffic, more customers and new opportunities.

I think it is so important right off the bat to determine the company’s vision. It is key that a marketing director understands what the objectives are, plus the vision and goals of the brand. Successful companies must have the confidence in that person to let them spread their wings and fly with it. Nothing is worse than holding back creativity because of the inability to trust and empower employees. Establishing the brand with consistency across the board with everything from proposals, brochures, website, etc. is essential, and if in the right hands, marketing can position your company in a whole new light.

Self-Promote. Everyday there are amazing things that you and your staff do to enhance your brand and image that you probably don’t even realize. Somebody needs to spread the word! Trust me, your current and future clients want to hear your success stories, your community outreach and the personal side of your company. Open the door to your communication. Take advantage of guest opportunities to be interviewed for articles in trade publications or speaking engagements. Make the time. It is a free way to get your name out there and use these articles to help educate your clients after they have been printed.

Leverage your happy customers. Utilize your good relationship — ask to develop case studies and have professional photography done. Trust me, you need a professional photographer! Amazing photos will open up many doors so make the investment.

As integrators, we have great opportunities to grow beyond our small marketing budgets to team up with our supporting manufacturers and industry publications. Let’s face it, it is a win-win situation. They want to be in front of your clients as much as you do. Manufacturers as well as magazine editors are ready to support your efforts, and I have not run into a situation yet that when presented with a fresh idea they are not willing to support it. Get creative and reach out…what is the worst that can happen? They say no?

Social Media is always a hot topic for me. It is the wave of today. Wake up… it is the way we communicate now. InfoComm was an entirely new experience for me this year. I was able to meet in person with so many people that I have met through social media that I communicate with every day. Without this resource, I would have never met or learned or expanded my network. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. These are the platforms people use to get their information. If you are not involved, you should be. Reaching out to the masses and expanding your brand to the public is part of the mix. Every day we are gaining new opportunities that come from social media both within our industry and the outreach to clients — six degrees of separation.

E-marketing is another tool that is cost effective and gets information out. Monthly newsletters have been effective for us. I have to imagine that others would feel the same. Once a month, clients get a recap of some fresh new products, latest industry news — they see our personal side of who we are (we are more than just AV, we care about our clients and what they need). All of these things are creating an image, a brand — the image that I want our clients to relate to when they see our name. We are a resource of information for them, and through this medium they gain knowledge and confidence. Our open rate is pretty high and every month something results, whether a box sale, a bid request, a service call — it makes all the hard work worth it.

On the same note, I also do one internally every month. I think it is important to find a way to communicate to our staff all the happenings that go on within our company, we are not all under the same roof. We not only highlight big sales, completed jobs and messages from our president, but we again show our personal side. Everything from births of babies, charities and sporting events, company picnics, vacation pictures. It is a connection — it might be a small connection, but it bonds us as a company, as a family.

Events are a favorite of mine. I guess I am the girl that loves to socialize, so it comes with my personality. I think they are an important part of the mix, and from two perspectives. One is client appreciation and the other is new business development. Both are important in their own ways. Our client appreciation events are not to make money (well, to be honest, everything we do is to make money), but it is more about continuing to build and foster a good working relationship. It shows our clients that we are a sound company and we care about our clients. We might not close a deal one month later, but if an event and networking event goes well, they will remember us; they will spread the word to others that we are a company they want to do business with. As far as I am concerned, that is a win all around.

New business development events are equally as important. It gives us the opportunity to present our offerings to new prospects, to begin the process of growing their confidence in our ability to provide them the right solution or service offerings. We do this on so many levels. We have a new business development woman who attends networking events, luncheons, seminars, trade shows, etc. We recently did a speaking lunch and learn at ILTA, which is the International Legal Technology Association. The event proved to be highly successful and has opened their eyes to new solutions and a company that can provide them. These opportunities are priceless for growing your name throughout the marketplace.

It’s also critical to keep your website up-to-date. If you are researching a company or have a need, what is the first thing you do? You look them up online. Everything we do goes back to our website. It is our billboard. What we can offer, photos of recently completed projects, product offerings, blogs, ways to contact us, news and events — it is all there. Before they even need to reach out, it is all there. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Blogging kind of falls under PR. Blogging opens a lot of doors for conversation. It doesn’t need to be 100 percent technical or a white paper. It just needs to be someone’s opinion of what they think. I love that about blogging. I want to read something light and maybe learn something from someone else’s experience. I take it for what it is. We blog about advanced technical topics, but the Marketing Chick needs to understand it before I push it out.

I can go on and on and on. These are just a few things that we cover in our marketing department. I love my job because it is something new every single day. I am creating a brand that I believe in. There are a ton of topics I didn’t even cover, but this blog would be WAY too long and you probably have already lost interest. Marketing is a key function in presenting your company to the public in the right eye. Make the investment, see the value and respect those who do it well.

Amy Fulton is a member of the rAVe BlogSquad. Find more of her blogs here.