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Network-Integrator-and-Inbound-MarketingA network integrator makes all the different hardware, software, and services on a company’s network work together in harmony -- and optimally. By no means a new category of IT service provider, the network integrator business model has existed for literally decades.

But what’s different today is that network integrators:

  • Face new technology challenges punctuated by mobile computing, cloud computing, and an onslaught of new IT security threats

  • Market and sell to different decision makers, in many cases, outside of IT that are most cost-effectively reached with more progressive, content-focused inbound marketing

Why Network Integrators Are Still Very Much In-Demand

Although a rather mature segment of IT services, SMB clients in particular are still very large consumers of outsourced network integration.

These clients still need installation, administration, management, and engineering of the various building blocks of their networks including:

  • Twisted pair cabling

  • Wi-Fi

  • Switches

  • Routers

  • Servers

  • VPNs

And although network integration isn’t necessarily the “sexiest” segment of IT services, the demand for networking expertise is quite strong.

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that the demand for network administrators will grow by 28% by 2020. 

Typical Products and Services for Network Integrators

While networking tends to be a very broad segment of IT, leading IT channel trade publication CRN divides up the networking category into:

  • Network security appliances

  • Network security software

  • SMB network storage

  • SMB network hardware

Some of the favorite vendors of network integrators include Cisco, Dell, and Kaspersky Lab.

Common SMB Pain Points Addressed by Network Integrators

SMB (small- and medium-sized business) clients hire network integrators for many different reasons. However three very common pain point solutions include:

  • Providing access to network resources (to improve productivity)

  • Securing network resources (to protect company intellectual property)

  • Maximizing availability of network resources (to minimize downtime and prevent business interruption)

Why Inbound Marketing Has Become So Vital to Network Integrators

As network integration is now a very mature business model, many owners and managers of network integrators can become quite set in their ways. This stubbornness becomes a big problem for two reasons:

  • The consumerization of IT brings entirely new problems for network integrators to solve

  • Traditional, old school marketing tactics are becoming less effective because the way people research and shop for products and services has changed drastically

What does this mean?

Nearly every SMB decision maker

  • Uses caller ID to screen calls

  • Depends on spam filters to protect their e-mail inbox

  • Routinely skips TV commercials via the DVR

  • Turns to search engines to research vendors, rather than the phone book and phone calls

  • Turns to social media for vendor recommendations, rather than talking with salespeople

The world has changed. In order for your company to be found, it needs to evolve. Inbound marketing is a big part of solving that puzzle.

Why is inbound marketing so critical?

The days of your sales team being in the driver’s seat are gone...for good.

What’s replaced that?

Consumers, and SMB decision makers in particular, want empowerment.

Did you, for example, know that 57% of a typical B2B sales cycle happens before potential clients reach out to any vendor?(Source: CEB on “Why Solution Selling No Longer Works”)

Without Inbound Marketing, Network Integrators Are Basically Invisible

What does this mean?

If your network integration company and its thought leadership content cannot be readily found by decision makers on search and social networks, at the time when those decision makers are actively seeking solutions to their problems, your company doesn’t even get a chance to compete for the business.

But what about the other 43% of the typical sales cycle? That’s a great question.

Here’s how it works the overwhelming majority of the time.

If your company isn’t in that initial consideration set, or shortlist if you will, your company will be either

(a) not thought of (in other words, your company is invisible because it didn’t “show up”), or

(b) only contacted at the absolute last minute, when the sales process is essentially over and the decision is already made, to request a time-wasting “bid” -- because your company is only seen as an easily interchangeable commodity broker

But My Network Integration Firm is “Special.” Prospective Clients Will Find Us -- Even If We Don’t Try.

Do you really believe that? Are are you trying to talk yourself into believing in unicorns and time machines?

Depending on where you’re located and population density, your typical SMB clients will have anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred potential choices for outsourced IT services.

If potential clients don’t know your firm exists and you don’t reach these potential clients at the exact moment when they’re searching for solutions to their biggest IT problems, it’s like the tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it.

But the good news? Now that you know what the root cause is and what the solution looks like, you can get your company on the right track with inbound marketing, so your company can:

  • Attract the right visitors to its website

  • Convert visitors to leads

  • Close sales with new clients

  • Delight clients for long-term retention

Learn more about how your network integration company can use proven inbound marketing services to find clients, retain clients, and grow.

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