Dances with lone wolves: report shows Kiwi tech exporters lagging behind on digital marketing smarts

  • Marketing
  • October 15, 2015
  • Henry Oliver
Dances with lone wolves: report shows Kiwi tech exporters lagging behind on digital marketing smarts

It seems like there’s an unending wave of innovative products coming out of the New Zealand tech sector at the moment. We’re making software and hardware for use in everything from nanotechnology to aerospace to kitchens to shops. And we’re not keeping it to ourselves.

According to the Technology Investment Network, "total revenue for The EY Ten Companies to Watch list was up $378 million, or 12.5 percent, for the year with the ASB Hot Emerging Companies to Watch list up $32 million, or 80 percent". But, according to the latest Market Measures survey, New Zealand’s technology exporters are well behind their US competitors in using digital marketing techniques to sell themselves and their products.

“Kiwi companies spend a lot of money, time and effort in marketing,” says Owen Scott, managing director of Concentrate, who conducted the survey with Swaytech, drawing on data from over 300 New Zealand tech companies. “But when we look under the covers a bit, we just don't do it the same way—not as efficient or effective—as our counterparts in the US, who are the masters of this stuff."

Scott says that US tech companies are a useful benchmark for their local counterparts given that over half the respondents to the survey were already active in the US. "If you're over there, you better be as intense as these US companies, or forget it,” he says.

According to the survey, the primary source of leads for 80 percent of US companies is typically "indirect marketing" activities such as email, advertising and social media. Only 35 percent of New Zealand companies properly utilise this more scalable, cost-effective source of new business leads. 

Scott says New Zealand companies approach sales and marketing like a lone wolf: "We basically hire people and send them offshore and say 'Go and do it'. We’re not using marketing to tell everyone who you are, to warm up the market, and generate leads to make the sales person's job easier and more efficient."

“New Zealand tech companies need to invest more in helping their sales people be effective. There's a typical pattern of getting sales people in and sacking them months later because they weren't miracle men. And the way companies overseas go about it is investing in marketing approaches earlier, generating leads for their sales team."

Scott says customers research online before purchasing – no matter what the product is, more and more of the initial process is happening on the internet – people are getting referrals from social media, they're reading reports and reviews. If you're not part of that discussion, if you're not part of the online reviews and the product comparisons, it's just too late."

According to Scott, New Zealand tech companies need to:

  1. Create a more diverse range of content – video, blogs, podcasts, social media – to power their digital marketing and broaden the range of channels used to attract customers.

  2. Shift the focus of digital content from satisfying existing customers to attracting and converting new leads.

  3. Increase the pace and intensity of marketing activity, following up on interactions and finding ways to make the process more efficient and cost-effective.

  4. Invest more time, money and effort into analysing the results of marketing.

You can find more information and download the report here.

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