As Latin America emerges as a significant player on the worldwide outsourcing stage, questions are coming up around how well Latam sourcing providers are marketing themselves. With US buyers looking for knowledge and insights, providers need to step up their digital marketing capabilities, says Fernando Labastida, owner of Latin IT Marketing, and a leading expert on marketing practices in the offshore industry.
We sat down recently with Fernando to get more of his thoughts.
What do Nearshore service providers need to do to improve marketing practices in the digital age?
For lack of a PC term, they have to look and behave American (or European or Canadian, depending on which market they’re going after).
1. They have to have modern, user-friendly, straightforward and to the point websites with flawless English. No more flash websites. No more “good enough” translations. No more typical corporate websites with information about their company, their wonderful reliable, expert developers who know Java .NET, SQL Server, Oracle, IBM and can develop anything from an iPhone app to an add-on for SAP.
2. They need to start blogging, creating eBooks, making videos, do webinars. They essentially need to take a content marketing approach, because that’s the best long-term strategy to turn their web presence into a destination and become thought leaders.
3. They need to really focus on a single overt business benefit they provide, figure out a relevant differentiator and focus on a particular target market. Customers always prefer to deal with specialists rather than with generalists. However most Nearshore providers want to be all things to all people, for fear of missing out on any opportunity.
What providers stand out as leaders in this new era of marketing?
I think Scio Consulting stands out. If you look at their website, they tell you exactly where to navigate to depending on your profile and the English is perfect. They blog and have a social media presence, and put on good webinars. They have found a specialty, which is SaaS software development, and have targeted software companies as their focus. They also provide a clear benefit: “we can get you SaaS enabled quickly and easily.”
If I am a provider, will marketing break down ignorance and dispel misconceptions about Latin America ?
The best way to do this is via content marketing. Content marketing allows them to educate their target market, via eBooks, blogs, videos, online webinars, and any number of content vehicles. If they produce relevant and compelling content that their target audience finds valuable, they can create a captive audience that they can then educate on what’s going on in the shift from offshore to Nearshore.
Blogging and eBooks are actually, in my opinion, the best way to introduce a new concept to the market. However, there’s one caveat: they have to hire somebody who is a native English-speaking writer (or as close to native as possible). However, this is the minimum they should do if they want to be successful in the U.S. or Canadian market.
Why are nearshore providers rarely using these types of information products?
Lack of education about what it takes to sell in the U.S. market. I’m trying to change that with my blog, but there needs to be more education about this. Most Nearshore providers have been successful in their own countries, and back at home the typical way to sell services is through networking, who you know, who has what connections, etc. It’s more of a relationship sell.
When they come to the States they’re not totally prepared for the vast cultural change in selling software and services, and many suffer a sort of business culture shock. They want to enter the U.S. market because it’s the biggest and richest market in the world, but it’s also the most brutally competitive and definitely not for the faint of heart. They have to be prepared not only intellectually, but they also need a total mental shift when they enter the U.S. market, and really do their homework. They need to focus on their benefits and differentiators, and also realize that content sells, even when they’re doing direct marketing or telemarketing combined with direct mail.
After they become convinced of that, then hiring the people to create the eBooks, case studies, white papers, webinars, blog posts, etc. is a piece of cake. There are a ton of copywriters and groups like Junta 42.
About provider websites, let me clarify: they can’t go to market with websites written in an English that was obviously written by a non-native speaker and with basic grammatical errors. Even English which is technically correct can come across as stiff, boring, dry or amateurish as opposed to the direct, conversational style that a native-English speaker (or Latin American who is totally immersed in U.S. culture) can write.
Here are a few other errors that I notice that are near fatal errors:
– Websites that talk about the company and it’s services only and not a word about benefits or customer successes
– Websites that are too busy and provide too many choices as opposed to a website that provides an initial, clear message as to what they do and provides a clear call-to-action about how to find out more.
– Websites that combine Spanish and English
Fernando Labastida is the owner of Latin IT Marketing, a content marketing consultancy helping Latin American software and nearshore providers successfully enter the U.S. market.