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Marketing Focus

Doing something well or everything well enough?

Doing something well or everything well enough?

At the moment the majority of smaller outsourcing businesses have very unfocussed marketing strategies conveying expertise in a wide range of technologies, Typically .NET, Java and C++ and a wide range of business functions (Verticals). This offers little focus for the sales staff who must inevitably decide to focus on a particular industry sector. For some this is a strategy of opportunism which has some survival benefits. When there is growth in a particular industry it becomes a focus and when there is a contraction it is deprioritized. The opportunism element really plays out in working with networks of contacts as almost anything is able to look like a lead where as a better defined target customer requires a structured search.

When it comes to trying to sell higher valued work or demonstrating experience the pitch is undermined by the broad positioning of the brand. Several outsource businesses begin the sales process with cold calling which does require a selection of prospects but even for companies of very modest size the range of businesses and skills being pitched is extremely broad and fluctuates from quarter to quarter. The focus initially should be on growing within existing clients through consultative selling or selecting similar or adjacent businesses. Beyond existing customers a decision needs to be made to place the focus on a particular industry or specialized skill. The advantage of selecting particular industries is that it assists with managing the cost of the sales process. You know which industry to build a network within and your case studies will support the pitch. These prospect selection decisions can not be made on a case by case basis as the resulting brownian motion will not form something which can be defined as a coherent brand positioning. With a specialization on a technical skill rather than a vertical the focus needs to be on demonstrating leadership and assisting new clients in finding you.

It is possible that a generalized outsourcing business could thrive by continuing its ‘jack of all trades’ positioning by having a deep sales network in a geographic market. This would be by having established competence by reputation locally and therefore not being judged so closely on its applicable experience. This appears to be the accidental strategy of many but there is a lot of evidence from the number of small outsource businesses with little organic growth, that this results in clinging like a limpet to one or two clients and a failure to cost effectively grow the client base.

The answer is to develop a market positioning before a diverse inexplicable range of clients emerges and all but takes control out of one’s hands. Once in that position one needs to forma strategy and stick with it going forward. Focus marketing and sales effort long term potentially by selling off or exchanging some clients who are no longer core.

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