You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “It takes a village.” In today’s professional services marketplace—in order to thrive, to drive your firm forward, and to achieve growth and profitability in a time of significant uncertainty—a truer phrase might be, “It takes a system.” More specifically, a marketing system. Technology and software firms that exhibit high growth and profitability deliver this systemized approach to marketing at a higher level. This special group of firms runs marketing like a well-oiled a machine, building a system of integrated parts that work in concert to generate robust growth and profitability in almost any economy.
A Model for Sustained Success
High Growth technology and software firms recognize that there is no magic bean that will produce sustained growth and profitability. No one technique, on its own, will fill the pipeline or build the talent pool required to produce consistent success. Instead, it requires a system of interconnected marketing techniques, programs, and technologies—and the skills to deliver them effectively. This study reveals how the highest performing firms build, tune, and maintain their marketing systems, so you can learn how to turn your marketing program into a powerful system that performs year after year.
What Drives Exceptional Company Performance
High Growth technology & software firms are growing at a rate nearly four times faster than their No Growth peers. But there’s an additional important distinction, and that is in profitability. The figure below shows that High Growth technology & software firms are nearly twice as profitable as their No Growth peers, earning an average profit of 17%.
What makes High Growth firms so successful? How are they able to generate exceptional growth and profitability in a competitive and unpredictable marketplace? Our research points to key advantages in four critical domains:
One in five High Growth technology & software firms report a high level of maturity in the digital tech stacks.
High Growth firms truly separate themselves from their slower-growing peers in the maturity of their digital technology. 55% of No Growth firms are in one of the two earliest stages of maturity, where their core processes are still largely manual. The majority of High Growth firms on the other hand operate in a model where their core processes are automated and connected, or where their entire digital ecosystem extends into the consumer journey to deliver customized experiences. And 20% of High Growth Firms report a high level maturity in their tech stack. Firms with a broad adoption across platforms that connect multiple processes, and the discipline to track a wide range of performance metrics are in a much stronger position to know where to allocate their marketing and business development dollars and resources.
High Growth firms are more likely to secure access to specialized skills by partnering with outside talent.
High Growth firms routinely use outsourcing to minimize the risk of the industry’s perennial talent shortage, giving them access to the skills they need to deliver exceptional performance and growth. Among the specialized skills High Growth firms are most likely to outsource, in descending order, are:
3. Marketing and Business Development
High Growth firms spend more on marketing and generate a higher portion of their leads from digital sources.
On average, High Growth technology & software firms allocated around 13% of their 2022 revenues to marketing and business development, not including staff compensation. High Growth firms also differ in the composition of their leads, generating nearly half of their leads from digital sources. No Growth firms get less than a third of their leads through digital channels.
Traditional marketing isn’t going away anytime soon, but a strong digital presence can make a firm’s traditional marketing even more effective. For instance, in a traditional network setting an executive who can refer new contacts to a website full of valuable educational content has so much more to offer than one who does not.
High Growth firms are more likely to conduct research on their target audience regularly.
Professional services firms across all industries and growth categories have access to a powerful weapon that can eliminate much of the risk in their go-to-market strategy. That weapon is target audience research. Firms that consistently study, track, and measure the learning and decision-making behavior of their audiences—and then use those findings to inform their marketing and business development decisions—are more likely to grow faster and be more profitable. Why? Because this type of intelligence helps firms address their market’s evolving needs more quickly and directly. To learn more about these findings, see the 2023 High Growth Study Executive Summary.
High Growth software & technology firms understand this advantage, and they are more likely to conduct regular research on their target audiences than their No Growth peers.
Building a marketing system that consistently performs at a high level, eliminates risk through target audience research, and drives both growth and profitability takes time. It also takes the right technology and the right people. While the investment can be significant, it can pay for itself many times over.
Consider the High Growth firms in this study as a model for firms like yours, helping you address a wide range of challenges and pointing you to the most productive areas to apply your attention and marketing dollars. In short, you can look to these High Growth firms as you develop a system that will allow your business to thrive in today’s challenging environment.
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