How to refine positioning for IT service companies to get international clients – ep 19

Niche down and specialize when expanding

If you have a successful development or service company in the IT sector and you’re looking to venture to markets with higher potential and profitability, this episode is for you. You’re going to learn a fundamental mistake to avoid, as well as how to go about the process the right way. You’ll get some step-by-step advice, so you can start off (re)planning your international market entry on the right foot.

IT development companies face several challenges when they try to expand (and go international). 

One of the better problems they have is being good at a multitude of things; with a bit of exaggeration, they’ll code anything anywhere on any device.

Why is this a problem? 

Because it makes it harder to specialize when creating marketing operations in a competitive market. And specializing, niching down is mandatory. 


Don’t try to be everything to everyone

When going international, you can’t be everything to everyone across all domains. The market is already filled with IT companies like you, who can also do everything for everyone, like you. And they have a 10+ year advantage over you, plus the advantage of home court. 

You need to narrow focus (radically) and center your positioning and messaging around one solution area in one domain. 

The reason? 

Everybody (you included) is drawn to specialists. You just assume that a specialist of a certain problem is better than a generalist who also does many other things. Don’t worry, though; you can expand your positioning once you gain traction and you’ve reaped rewards in your space. 

Niching down/specializing is also a good strategy anytime competition intensifies and returns dwindle. But, if you’re currently being everything to everyone and it works, you have business, then keep doing that and enjoy the profits. 

Some help with narrowing your focus

Want to know how a few “everyday-B2B companies” are successfully doing it? They start with strategy (you knew that); specifically, by niching down. 

This serves the purpose of being able to market and sell better because your messaging, all communications and presence can be more specific and more relevant than anybody else’s on the market. This is a huge advantage, especially if you are a new player in a country.

OK, but how do we do it?

We take our clients through a 90-minute workshop that helps them define a narrow, well-defined sub-market, or “niche” where they can really excell and market powerfully. For IT development companies, a niche is usually defined by

👉 the industry and sub-industry (vertical)

👉 your solution to a problem: note, it’s not “service offered” but think in terms of a narrow set of problems you are solvnig”

👉 geography

Then, we employ about 12-15 factors to get to the answers. 

For starters, consider these easier ones: 

1. fun/interest-factor: this surprises people, but straight out of the gate, we ask founders – what do you and your people enjoy doing most? No point in setting up a machine for doing Android dev, when the core people at the company want to focus on UX projects – even though, you can do both and the former might seem more profitable. 

We’re looking for the intersection of both profit AND enjoyment here.

2. domain expertise – what are you best at or where can you improve a lot

3. resources – what service can you scale, meaning you have enough man- (and machine) power or can hire fast

4. case studies, references – you need to be able to prove your expertise

This is often a painful process for company owners – it feels like letting go of capabilities and throwing them out the window…. but fear not! You can always cross-sell your existing capabilites once you have acquired a client. 

This is just for “front end” presentation and branding to prospects – to make sure your entire DNA and being revolvs around solving one acute problem in an industry.

I’m sure you’d like examples 🙂 Here are two:

👉 BEFLEX can manufacture everything and anything that is physical brand activation and brand experience, for anyone: be it a one-man ice cream shop or a fortune 100 brand. Still, for their international expansion, we chose to narrow focus to (3D) printing solutions specifically for agencies of large brands. 

 👉 then, there’s the productization route…: Zengo, an awesome dev company is productizing their VR-capabilities (narrowing focus) specifically for serving an important function (another sub-segment) inside manufacturing companies (a chosen vertical). 

Remember, the stakes are high

Think of the consequences of poor positioning:

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