Lauchlan Content Director Pete Fuduric recently blogged about why it’s more critical than ever for IT solution providers to adopt a vendor-neutral marketing strategy. The idea put forward is to lead with your story, not that of your OEM partners. This approach allows you to build trust with your customers and prospects by helping them navigate the technologies available to them without directing them toward a specific OEM solution. Done well, it can bring you one step closer to the highly desirable position of being seen as more than just a technology vendor, but a strategic advisor and long-term trusted partner.
However, there is a difference between vendor neutrality in marketing and leading with a brand-first strategy. In Lauchlan’s experience as an IT channel-focused marketing agency, striking the right balance between vendor neutrality and a brand-first approach is key.
Before we look at considerations for a brand-first strategy, let’s consider the brand. Your company’s brand is far more than your logo, website, name and collateral. Your brand is the emotional, authentic essence of how your company’s purpose and promise exist in the minds of your constituents. Defining and leading with this story goes beyond vendor neutrality to clarify in the minds of your audiences the differentiated capabilities your company brings to the marketplace. Simply stating your company takes a ‘consultative, vendor-neutral approach” is not, in today’s IT landscape, the only differentiator you need to consider. Many leading IT solution providers are now leading with this perspective. It’s critical to also tell the story of what truly makes your brand different, including:
- Differentiated capabilities and thought leadership
- Unique and consistently applied institutional expertise
- The tenure and importance of your customers and relationships
- Technical and engineering prowess
- Vertical-specific knowledge
- Relevant experience and core strengths
- A high degree of quality and user loyalty
These qualities can aid in defining your IT brand and help IT buyers identify and align their needs with your capabilities.
Here’s 3 considerations to establishing a brand-first strategy:
- Truly define your IT brand story and it’s unique qualities. This first step is critical. Employees, C-level to intern, should be able to articulate your company’s brand qualities and unique differentiators. The simplicity and clarity of this messaging is key to relaying internally as well as externally how your brand stands out from the competition.
- Audit your storytelling toolset. With many IT solution providers relying on OEM MDF (marketing development funds) to support their marketing efforts, and much vendor-neutral/brand-first communication development not adhering to OEM funding guidelines, there is a need to define exactly what communication components are critical to your brand-first storytelling, as development may need to be funded internally. Working with an experienced IT channel-focused agency like Lauchlan can be instrumental in helping you identify, develop and deploy critical content assets for your story.
- Roll out an integrated roadmap. With clarity of message and differentiated capabilities identified, develop a multi-channel marketing and communications roadmap for consistently telling your story to your prospects, clients and stakeholders. Considerations should include target audience identification, buyer persona mapping, the best channels and content types to reach your audiences, KPIs and metrics to gauge what channels are working, and a focus on strategically building your brand long term.
A strategic, vendor-neutral, brand-first marketing strategy carves out a space in the minds of the marketplace for your company’s value to shine strongly and stand on its own merits.
Solve for a Brand-First Marketing Strategy
Lauchlan works across the IT channel to develop and deploy highly effective marketing and brand communications for IT solution providers. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you tell your unique story.
Kathleen Lauchlan is Co-Founder and CEO of Lauchlan. You can email Kathleen at email@example.com.