AV integration marketing may not come easy to integrators. If you were to audit the marketing efforts of different firms you’d find varying strategies. Some strategies are bare bones, others are a major business focus, but the majority fall somewhere in the middle.
All integration firms could stand to put more emphasis on their efforts. While installations can speak for themselves, and word of mouth can help to land deals, it falls on integration firms to ensure that stellar installations are seen and that it doesn’t fall to customers to spread the good word of your organization.
“Your culture and intentions eventually become the experience of your customer,” said Gina Sansivero, VP of marketing and corporate communications for AtlasIED, in a recent Total Tech Summit session.
“It falls on integration firms to ensure that stellar installations are seen and that it doesn’t fall to customers to spread the good word of your organization.”
“What does your customer experience look like and what do you want it to look like? Are those two aligned? Marketing will help you get there,” she said.
“When you have really strong culture for your organization, that becomes the springboard for a lot of what will end up engaging potential clients and current clients.”
Word of mouth alone is not enough for integration firms to significantly grow. It takes effort on the integration firm’s part to gain visibility.
Really, these efforts are beneficial on two ends; good marketing helps former customers remember you, and potential customers discover you.
Integrators need to engage with clients to stay top of mind when that client may need a new installation. They also need engaging content that people want to read, watch, or listen to.
“Things like newsletters are relatively easy to do,” says Sansivero. “Educational and promotional content within newsletters that go out quarterly or monthly. Not something that is so frequent that your customers get sick of hearing from you, but there’s definitely a balance and this is easy content.”
What you’ve done lately to help clients, promotions you’re currently running, thought leadership articles from staff members, case studies with great photography, video interviews, training material – these are all great fodder for newsletters.
These pieces can inform and promote at the same time.
That’s the AV integration marketing balance integrators should always strive to hit. It’s fine to toot your own horn but offer general education at the same time and your clients will appreciate it.
“Have somebody on staff who’s willing to write or hire a ghost writer if you’re short on time. Being that thought leader is an easy way to maintain exposure to your customer base.”
“This should all be part of a marketing strategy,” said Sansivero.
“Don’t just have a web presence. Don’t just put out interviews or case studies. One-offs are not that effective.
“When you incorporate a marketing plan to get to your goals for the year, these pieces become a lot more powerful,” she said.
Integrators aren’t in this alone, either. There are resources to help create material and distribute that to larger communities.
Media outlets such as Commercial Integrator and even manufacturing partners can act as an extension to your marketing department if you’re willing to work with them as partners.
“Where are your clients? What are they reading?” said Sansivero. “Press and media are always looking for new installations and important information from subject matter experts that are not promotional. Become that thought leader.
“Have somebody on staff who’s willing to write or hire a ghost writer if you’re short on time. Being that thought leader is an easy way to maintain exposure to your customer base,” she said.
AtlasIED “loves to partner with our integrators and distributors to be able to highlight the level of connection that we have,” said Sansivero.
“Lean on your manufacturers,” she said. “They have the ability to do video production, to write and produce case studies, to offer training for your clients, and more.
“Oftentimes integrators hold back from asking for that level of support. We’re more than happy to give it. It’s mutually beneficial,” said Sansivero.
“Some organizations separate sales and AV integration marketing to the point where it’s almost an us versus them mentality,” said Sansivero. “You don’t want sales and marketing fighting.
“Sales is out in the field getting the feedback marketing needs to identify the language that resonates with your customer base. Marketing is doing great things with outreach, engagement, visibility and exposure that can help enable sales. Alignment between the two is imperative,” she said.
Integrators should identify the information that should be shared between marketing and sales. That doesn’t mean someone is on the phone with every customer visit. It means consistency in sharing goals, road maps and customer feedback.
An infographic made from a survey to your audience may be enough to ask for a name and email address, while an educational webinar can be enough to ask for further points of data.
Marketing can serve as an extension of your sales team in warming up prospective clients.
Marketing can be in charge of both of these efforts.
If the team has done well creating engagement, then the demand generation will be there.
Case studies, video interviews, thought leadership articles, and other content the marketing team creates will educate potential customers on what your firm can offer.
Lead generation is the next logical step. For more in-depth information you can ask for some amount of contact information. The content should justify the information you’re asking for.
An infographic made from a survey to your audience may be enough to ask for a name and email address, while an educational webinar can be enough to ask for further points of data like company, title, phone number, address, and potentially even budget ranges.
“What do you do with those leads?” asks Sansivero. “Usually you pass them on to a salesperson. Sometimes you hear back from sales. Sometimes you don’t. If you have CRM you can follow the success of that campaign to the end. Most of the time, though, we hand off the leads and hope sales does what they’re supposed to do with them.
“How do you know if your lead generation activities are fruitful? You want to use your budget where you find the most success. So it’s really important to get feedback from sales. That becomes an imperative part of building your marketing strategy over time. You need to know what’s worked and what hasn’t,” she says.
How do you measure how successful your AV integration marketing campaign is? What is your return on investment on a tradeshow, or your social media strategy?
“Sometimes activities shouldn’t be aligned with revenue generation or even lead generation. Sometimes your marketing campaigns have a different goal, and you need to identify in advance what those goals are,” said Sansivero.
“If you’re building a campaign around brand recognition your measurements should not be revenue-based, your measurements should be around engagement,” she said.
“Identify goals for your campaigns, identify the appropriate metrics to measure those goals, and then be able to present them in understandable and usable ways so you can identify success,” said Sansivero.
“If you’re building a campaign around brand recognition your measurements should not be revenue-based, your measurements should be around engagement.”
For example, the virtual trade shows of the past year have been a completely new marketing strategy for many companies.
You won’t find direct revenue from advertising at one of these tradeshows.
Instead, the measurements are based in the reach of the presenting organization, the value of its audience, and how well you wish to engage with that audience during the virtual show hours.
It may be a year later that an audience member requires an integrator and comes calling on your firm. They may not even remember that they heard about you at that virtual tradeshow.
You may never be able to prove the line from that virtual tradeshow engagement to direct dollars. It doesn’t mean that the engagement from different projects isn’t valuable to the firm long-term.
It’s the same thought process behind name-brand companies spending millions to advertise during the Super Bowl.
You can’t draw a direct line from a single viewer to a single purchase, but the goal is to keep the brand top of mind so when potential customers are thirsty or craving a snack they go with the brand whose commercial made them laugh during halftime. Sustained growth over time is the proof that it’s working.
The ultimate goal of marketing efforts for integrators is recognition and awareness. You want to provide touchpoints so current and prospective customers recognize your brand and are aware of what you can provide for them. That means you need to remind them.
A solid AV integration marketing strategy will do just that.