Brand strategy in the technology space can be challenging. There’s fierce competition and more often than not, it’s a sink or swim scenario for the new players in the crowded software market. While ensuring brand consistency and educating audiences across sectors are challenging tasks for all marketers, explaining intricate technology jargon and showing the benefits this technology can bring to business in simple terms isn’t an easy undertaking.
CeBIT 365 had the opportunity to speak with Vibhav Vankayala, Product Marketing Manager at Zoho, to get insight into how the Indian technology company markets their 34-software offerings globally, which, so far, has amassed to a following of more than 25 million users.
How to overcome the challenges technology marketers face
Marketers are equipped with many tools that enable them to spread a brand message. Social media, email marketing, CPC web ads, TV, radio and the list goes on. As Vibhav explains, without the alignment and brand strategy behind your message your marketing may be widespread but it will ultimately be ineffective if you don’t target accurately.
Zoho offers a suite of business tools to help business’ work online seamlessly. They have thought of most tools a business needs - from sales and marketing, to business process, to email marketing, finance, IT and help desk tools and even human resources management. Their products are fully integrated, enabling business owners - both at the enterprise and SME level - to have a complete overview of the business’ activities and people. Marketing such a large product suite to many target markets can be overwhelming, but Vibhav says Zoho’s internal teams work together to break down the target markets and employ different tactics and campaigns to get the message across, and that message is very simple: Zoho is the operating system for business.
“We’re strategic in everything we bring to the market, whether it’s new features or new products, how we position these elements is important. You can talk about everything you have to offer, but unless you’re specific about the benefits they will bring to that customer set or target market, they will become overwhelmed or worse, unimpressed.”
Vibhav says the most common challenges the Zoho products marketing teams face are communication across sectors, educating customers about data security and integration and keeping the Zoho brand consistent across products.
1. Communication across market sectors, countries and languages
If you are promoting a software as a service (SaaS) your personas and messaging is key to an effective campaign. According to Vibhav, Zoho is passionate about bringing all businesses online, even those considered smaller-than-small businesses. “I’m talking about those in emerging markets. They’re scared to take the plunge. These markets usually have lesser exposure to emerging technologies, which is why they're not aware of the extensive benefits of moving their business operations online,” he says. That’s why the messaging used in campaigns in South America and India is completely different compared to those aimed at US-based enterprise level corporations. Since last year, to target business in India Zoho has run offline ad campaigns throughout the country. Some of the main drivers were billboards in 8 cities and TV ads.
To make waves at the US enterprise level, Zoho ran an online and offline campaign targeting US CIOs promoting their “Zwitch” offering - the free migration tool to move you from Salesforce to Zoho’s CRM.
Like all effective marketing, taking time to develop in-depth personas is key to delivering a message that resonates with an audience. Doing so will ultimately will move the buyer further down the buyer’s journey and lead to a sale.
2. Educating customers about data security and product integration
Education is always challenging, especially when you’re speaking to non-tech markets or just different markets in general. Optimising business through integrated tools is a message Zoho constantly promotes across all of its target markets however, the message isn’t that Zoho’s easy to integrate. It’s that it already does, meaning your business doesn’t need to have Mailchimp for email marketing and then try to integrate it with Salesforce CRM. Zoho’s complete suite integrates with many of its own products without the need to code anything. “When we explain this to every market, customers are taken back. They’re surprised they don’t don’t need an API solution or a developer. Because people already have the preconceived notion that they must get a developer, it can be hard to truly make someone understand it just works,” says Vibhav. “This is a constant challenge for us: communicating the benefits in a believable and understandable way.”
Similarly, the challenge exists when the SaaS company comes up against the question of data security. Vibhav says media hype has led to more and more people to have concerns about online data security in general. As Zoho works across many countries all with different data laws, data security is their top-most priority. There’s a 24 hours security team working and optimising systems and data. “We have to let the customers know about this to give them confidence, it’s a major priority of any online business,” Vibhav says.
3. Keeping the brand consistent across products
Brand consistency is important because it’s not only marketing on a higher level, it makes your brand feel more dependable and businesses trust brands they recognise. Brand recognition only comes from consistency. At Zoho, each product has its own dedicated marketing team. Keeping branding consistent, both in marketing and sales, is a challenge. To overcome this the company has a style guide which dictates many of the brand’s aesthetic features such as how landing pages should look, which colours should be used and where the logo should be placed. All of Zoho’s products also follow a structure to layout customer benefits in the most direct and clear way as possible.The marketing team managers also meet on a regular basis to ensure all teams are on the same page and know about any upcoming releases of features for the new and existing products. Vibhav says though all Zoho products have their own value proposition, these individual messages add up to resonate Zoho's overall brand promise that 'Zoho is the operating system for business.' “This is the key,” he says.
Marketing a SaaS brand presents multifaceted challenges, however these challenges are much easier to resolve if you have a strong brand strategy that encompasses in-depth persona work, targeted marketing activities and a benefit-driven message.
Learn more about SaaS marketing at CeBIT Australia 2017’s Big Data and Analytics conference. You’ll discover how to use analytics to drive your marketing. Get your pass today.