Lessons Learned: Significant Brand Discoveries That Shaped Work Tech is a four-part blog series by Bret Starr highlighting unique strategies and best practices learned by The Starr Conspiracy since 2006.
Lesson No. 4: Impacting Work Tech
Market leaders don’t just rake in the most category revenue.
They also create the dominant paradigm for solution categories. I think that a lot of people believe the best solution with the best features and benefits is destined to become the market leader.
However, the Work Tech garbage heap is stacked high with solutions (software and services) that offered superior features and benefits, but weren’t able to lead the industry conversation (true thought leadership) and set the mold for the category because their voices were drowned out by companies who invested more in sales and marketing. Thought leadership does not derive from having the best ideas, the most compelling point of view, or the best solution. Thought leadership derives from having the loudest, most persistent voice in the market.
So when a company becomes a leader in their market category, they are impacting the trajectory of the entire category’s development. Competitors often find themselves chasing the business strategies, marketing messages and product features of leaders because they are always starting in second or third place when it comes to sales opportunities. Inevitably, this leads to the sales team providing feedback about why they lost the deal (which is usually feature-based) and drives product development decisions in the company that might not even be aligned with their culture or vision.
Market leaders are the ones who, through the power of their positions in the category, end up setting buyer expectations for what value solutions are supposed to provide. And this market leader effect creates the unintended consequence of contributing to the employee experience that most people have (especially in larger companies). And so the creation of market leaders through superior sales and marketing strategies is a significant driver of innovation in the field. In short, the fundamental characteristics of Work Tech are shaped by market leaders, and market leaders are created through aggressive sales and marketing.
The Big Picture
I don’t tell stories like this because I hope to wow you with some ideas we came up with a decade or more ago. I tell these stories to both paint a picture of the constant innovation we pursue at The Starr Conspiracy and to highlight past moments that are relevant to current challenges.
In this case, the relationship between brand recognition and outcomes in demand generation and future market share is a critical factor in creating marketing plans to cement your company as a market leader in the current crises. You may feel that marketing is not leading to direct sales opportunities in the current environment (although most of the Work Tech companies we’re talking to are growing as companies calibrate their tech stack with the new future of work). Nonetheless, the marketing you do now (or don’t do) will most certainly impact your future growth trajectory and opportunity to move into a position of market leadership. Mega Work Tech brands are playing it safe. That means the opportunities to gain brand recognition and take control of the conversation have increased significantly. Great brands are forged in economic downturns. And the world acutely needs and craves innovative Work Tech right now, at this very moment. Don’t sit on the sidelines.
A market dynamic like this (where every business is critically evaluating every technology product they own) is not likely to come around again for another 20 years or more. To put it in perspective, we’ve not seen the massive turnover in Work Tech stacks that we’re catching glimpses of now since SaaS was introduced to the market and caused everyone to throw out their old tech and move to cloud-based solutions.
It’s a good time to be in Work Tech.
Browse previous entries in the Lessons Learned series: