Services – Generalist
Marketing a service is difficult because the offering is intangible; there is not a specific product with a set of features and benefits you can readily market. Instead, you need to develop and market your service brand. This is largely your identity and reputation, but you can make it more tangible by developing a consistent look and feel for not only your marketing material, but also for your documentation, quotes, customer communication, software user interfaces, system enclosures, and more. Even your project methodology and the way you conduct business can help develop a marketable brand. Once this becomes more tangible, you have something to market to the local community through local trade shows, events, and more.
Sales for a services business is all about relationships. You must constantly network with vendors, customers, and the community. Most generalists heavily rely on their entrepreneurs to lead sales efforts. Hiring traditional sales people is difficult because there is not a tangible product to sell. Therefore, it often takes the credibility of the entrepreneur to convince the customer that he or she can commit the organization to complete the project. However, in a services company, it is the entire staff’s job to sell the company. Everyone who interfaces with a customer should be able to give the ‘elevator speech’ on his or her company’s capabilities.
Working with NI
Because marketing intangible services is quite different than the vast majority of typical NI product marketing, most engagement happens at the local, not corporate level. Undoubtedly, the biggest marketing benefit at the corporate level is the Alliance Partner directory on ni.com. With more than a million Web site visits each month, it is critical to keep your Alliance Partner profile complete and accurate. If a customer is looking for a local consultant or integrator, it is likely that he or she consults the Alliance Partner directory.
At the local level, NI provides numerous opportunities to network at its local events, user group meetings, seminars, and more. Attendees meet local NI regional marcom, find out what is going on, and learn how to get involved. In addition, you should stay in regular contact with the local NI sales organization. Keep sales posted on your opportunity and project status. What is the status of your project proposals? How are your current projects going (both good and bad)? When does your next project begin? Overall, it never hurts to keep the sales organization informed, so sales employees can keep their eyes open.