Martech Podcast: Experts reveal how to grow your martech and adtech company in new regions
The martech and adtech landscape is more competitive than ever before. The latest supergraphic from Chiefmartec and MartechTribe highlights there are now a whopping 9932 vendors across 49 categories. This was up from 8000 in 2020, 7040 in 2019 and just 150 back on the original edition of the graph in 2011. This reflects a growth rate of 5233 per cent across a 10-year period!
So how can all these martech companies grow in new regions, and get their martech platform noticed by prospects above all the noise?
Navigating the martech landscape: the good, the bad and the ugly
At AZK Media, one of our award-winning specialities is helping adtech and martech companies grow across the UK/EMEA and APAC. In fact, it’s our bread and butter. We've worked with dozens of adtech and martech organisations like Silverbullet, Tealium, The Lumery, Cheetah Digital, Bench Media, Bonzai and more since our inception.
We agree, operating in more than one country makes a business more resilient, especially in periods of uncertainty. Expanding globally opens up new revenue potential, creates access to more opportunities and gives a company a competitive edge; that is, if executed properly.
However key to expanding in new and emerging markets is a well thought out and properly deployed marketing and PR strategy. Having that in place could very well be the difference between a company’s success and failure in the new market.
The most popular martech and adtech business growth tips
AZK Media Founder and Managing Partner Azadeh Williams recently sat down with Ben Shapiro, host of the Martech Podcast, to discuss the ins and outs of growing a marketing technology company in new and emerging markets. In this exclusive interview, the two dissect the subtle differences growing in different regions presents as well as the role effective B2B marketing and public relations plays when expanding into new regions.
The podcast proved so immensely popular, with a whopping 3,284 downloads in 2021, that it was republished in 2022. And within one month of republication had over 600 downloads. Suffice to say, the interview offers some pretty sage advice!
Let's take a look at the key talking points and advice.
Martech company's successful expansion strategy: no ‘one size fits all’
Success looks different for everybody but is it equal among martech companies looking to drive success in new and emerging markets, Ben asks.
“I wouldn’t say one region is necessarily better than the other because the martech landscape is so complex. Whether you’re starting in Singapore, India, the U.S. or the U.K., you just need to have the right solution fit for the customer base that’s in your region. There’s no one size fits all of setting up that business and growing it in that particular region,” Azadeh says.
With clients in across U.K and Europe, working across retail verticals in the ecommerce space, Azadeh says their business model of growth is different to AZK Media’s U.S. vendors that exclusively operate in San Francisco, New York and Michigan, but one is not superior to the other.
“One place isn’t better than the other. In fact, we have a great ad tech company that we work for in India. They have very low overheads and are a great place to start. But they have the challenge of getting the trust and gaining the buy-in from the rest of the world,” she shares.
“While it’s cheaper for them to start up and scale, it’s harder for them to get noticed globally. Whereas, if you start in the U.K. and the U.S., you already have such a massive pool to work in. It’s faster and easier to scale there. You already have that street credibility, so when you move into a new region like ANZ you can leverage from your existing brand presence and audience. So, it’s complex.”
Are you a martech or adtech company expanding overseas? Steer clear of these mistakes
Ben highlights the importance of martech companies setting the right foundation in the early stages to gain traction in the region, and asks, “What are ways that you can generate that early traction? Say, you’ve started networking and building your marketing funnels, how do you eventually expand beyond the region where your company was founded?”
Azadeh says it’s probably better to flip that question on its head and discuss the typical mistakes a lot of martech vendors make when they’re trying to expand and how to avoid them.
“One of the common mistakes we see a lot of martech vendors make, especially when trying to expand outside of their region, is thinking that getting some media coverage will be enough to create buzz. Unfortunately, with the media landscape as it is, it’s quite difficult to get any sort of direct business value from just creating a buzz in the media,” she points out.
"PR is more than just media coverage, it's about getting your brand in front of the right prospects, at the right time. So don't just 'spray and pray'. Any media coverage, podcast interviews, thought leadership initiatives need to be carefully executed to reach the right target audience."
"More importantly, these need to be shared across the right social media channels. This includes leveraging the local senior executives' social pages to help build their credibility and thought leadership. This will slash sales lead time as the local senior executives will naturally look more knowledgeable, approachable and trustworthy to their prospects."
Another blunder these companies make is not investing enough in local marketing teams to support the region. “Martech vendors will invest in a massive army of salespeople, but they give them little to no marketing support,” Azadeh says.
“That makes their marketing and social media presence and their overall ecosystem dull. It looks dry and boring and won’t stand out from the crowd. And it can’t create the foundation to be able to build the pipeline and generate the customer tribe that’s necessary to grow a martech business.”
Tealium, Cheetah Digital and Salesforce, Azadeh says, are among the companies getting it right. Unfortunately, she adds, they’re the exception, not the norm.
The right PR and marketing mix is a recipe for martech success
Ben points out that big companies like Salesforce, of course, have much more resources than those early-stage companies just starting their expansion journeys. However, he agrees that having the right PR and marketing mix is key.
“You need that blend to drive awareness to get that initial engagement. Then, you have to actually drive someone through your marketing funnel with your sales tactics and find that balance in the blend,” he says, before asking Azadeh if there are differences among the media landscape in various regions.
“In the U.K, which is very competitive to get noticed, when you do get noticed in the media and scale with volumes of people reading your content; you will get a lot more traction. The same goes with the U.S. because there’s such a big population and a high readership of content,” Azadeh shares.
“In those regions, if you do get media coverage, there’s a greater chance that you’ll look more authoritative and seem more successful. You can then leverage off the back of it during the sales enablement phase. Great PR gives your sales team greater 'bragging rights' and that is brilliant for their confidence on the ground in new regions.”
But what ends up happening, though, is those companies in the U.K. and the U.S. come into Australia and falsely assume that they’re going to get that same level of “street cred” there. Sadly, that’s simply not the case.
“Australia only has 20 million people,” Azadeh points out. “So with publications, you might get about 600-1000 people reading the article, 2,000 if you’re lucky. That’s nothing compared to the sheer scale and volume of readerships across other parts of the world.
“You’re not going to get that level of traction. People aren’t going to read an article in Australia, magically evangelise and go, ‘Really love this product. This is amazing’. It’s more complex than that. You need to be sharing the content across all the right social channels like LinkedIn, and work harder for your local sales team to be leveraging the content and sharing it on their own pages.”
The importance of local when companies go global
Ben reflects back to his early startup days, sharing that, back then, it was very much like “TechCrunch or bust”. If a company got its article in there, it would thrive because of that initial burst of credibility from a great media source.
However, TechCrunch is not the powerhouse for the tech industry it once was, he says. “Today, with social media, it’s so easy to get your content in front of people but getting noticed and getting their attention is a different story,” Ben says.
He then asks Azadeh to share her thoughts on ‘the lay of the land’ in terms of popular publications in APAC. “The martech publications here, if you’re looking at the intersection between marketing technology and data, are open to great media pitches.
“They include CMO Magazine and CIO, to an extent. Then there’s also Marketing Mag, B&T, Mumbrella, Martech Series, Campaign Brief, IT Wire and Techday. So, there’s a nice mix, but it’s a very, very small pool,” she says.
And just because they’re here, doesn’t mean they’ll give you the time of day if you don’t have a worthwhile pitch or good reputation, Azadeh warns. “It’s important to build relationships and trust with the journalists. It’s also vital to have local stories to tell like local customer success stories, local business wins — things that are very localised. No journalist in Australia is going to pick up something that happened in the U.S. They don’t care about it,” she says.
Ben agrees, saying, “You have to regionalise your outreach and come up with customer stories that are relevant to the market when you’re trying to expand.”
Trying to grow your martech or adtech company in APAC? Building relationships is key
Some may be surprised that AZK Media doesn’t believe that PR is something to be 'prioritised' over other marketing activities. Instead, it’s regarded as one crucial part of the overall marketing mix.
“Look at your entire marketing funnel,” Azadeh says. “Yes, PR hits the very top of that funnel. It gives you some bragging rights and maybe some third-party links, if you’re lucky. It builds a bit of street cred on the ground. But for the magic of PR to take its full effect, it needs to be integrated strategically into a wider inbound B2B marketing strategy.”
Azadeh stresses that businesses looking to expand in the ANZ region should be prioritising relationship building. “In Australia and New Zealand, it’s still very much a relationship-building exercise,” she adds. “It’s very ‘old school’.
“You need to be across all of the local marketing and martech events to get yourself noticed and build those relationships on the ground. But you also need to generate and amplify great thought leadership, customer testimonials and local news announcements in and around your networking and industry events. This is critical to strengthen the impact you have in the region and also prolong the talking points of an event across your social and marketing channels. Otherwise you're in an endless cycle of 'hi and goodbye' in the events circuit."
Breaking into new regions as martech or adtech vendor needs a trusted media and marketing partner
When expanding into new regions, it’s important to be aware of the subtle nuances and differences that span different cultures. It’s something that needs to be factored in before breaking into a new market, Ben points out.
“A common mistake we see when global martech vendors try to expand into the APAC region is not having any local-centric content on their global site."
“They don’t have local landing pages, customer use cases or anything that makes the loyal customer feel like, ‘this martech vendor at a global level really understands us, really cares about us and gives us content and relevant information that speaks to us’. It’s vital to not speak generically when you’re trying to create localised efforts.”
Ben seconds that advice, saying there’s so much more to entering a new market than just changing the geography of some of the advertising strategies and doing some outreach to PR vendors. “Truly showing that you are integrating and starting to work in a region is what makes a difference to the people on the ground,” he says.
Listen to the Martech x Azadeh Williams podcast here.
Read the full transcript here.