UK Tech Sector Struggles Persist: Why MarComms is the Vital Weapon in Survival | Rachel Gilley, CEO of Clarity

Despite projections towards the end of 2023 saying we’d start to see economic uplift in 2024, UK businesses, including in the tech sector, continue to struggle amidst a horde of significant challenges. And an ongoing funding slowdown isn’t helping the situation.

I’m CEO of Clarity, which was born out of London’s fintech boom in the early 2010’s, and our heritage is deeply intertwined with the UK’s tech sector. Indeed, in the tech boom of 2021, we experienced significant growth alongside many of our clients; and when they started to face challenges in response to the current economic climate, we went through a similar journey. This means when we meet with tech startups, scaleups, and their VCs, we’ve also had to navigate some of the hurdles they have, and no doubt at times made similar sacrifices to those they’ve also made.

In this blog, I’ll discuss how insight-led, highly measurable marketing and communications should be treated as a precision tool for achieving the business objectives that support survival during difficult times. As the CEO of a scaling business navigating these challenging waters what I’m sharing here comes from lived experience, and is a reflection on how we’ve continued to drive growth over the last few years.

What is MarComms?
MarComms, short for Marketing Communications, encompasses various strategies and services aimed at effectively communicating a company’s marketing messages to its target audience, and guiding that audience towards a desired action – whether that’s buying a product or investing in a company.

Elements like paid advertising across the web and on social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), public relations, content marketing, public affairs, and even how businesses leverage ‘owned channels’ (i.e., their website, social media pages, and how they contact audiences via email) should all ladder back to their business objectives.

What can MarComms help my business achieve during difficult times?
At this point you may be thinking, I’d love to deploy all these services to support my business – but why would I invest in MarComms when my resources are so tight? Wouldn’t my money be better spent on R&D, staffing, or simply keeping the lights on? The reality is, MarComms should be seen as the power source behind those lights.

Dated perceptions of MarComms portray it as a fluffy ‘nice to have’ favoured by consumer brands. But as digital has become the norm, and the volume of data being produced has exploded, it has become a significantly more precise tool. MarComms strategies today, backed by cutting-edge measurement capabilities, can directly work towards driving results against business objectives, from revenue growth to boosting ROI. Modern MarComms work as one unit to drive outcomes like:
● Communications, SEO, thought leadership, and brand marketing drive initial awareness of, and trust in, solutions.
● Paid advertising, social media, and email marketing nurture existing prospects towards evaluating solutions.
● And engaging sales and website content, and reviews, lead to conversion.

Every part of this approach is insight-led, so businesses know what they’re saying will resonate with target audiences, and is highly measurable, to enhance performance and ensure maximum ROI.

Parallel to the sales funnel, MarComms also supports preparation for, and management of, crisis situations. When leaders are overwhelmingly busy, they need to know their business is fully prepared if something goes wrong, like a cyberattack or internal issue.

What’s the impact if I don’t invest in MarComms?
Despite the difficulties it’s facing, the UK’s tech sector continues to grow rapidly with over 51,000 new tech businesses incorporated in 2023. At the same time, during tough times businesses are shouting louder to get noticed by a pool of buyers with smaller budgets. This means differentiation isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, it’s critical to survival.

Using Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO vernacular, we are all facing ‘an imminent threat’. This means targeting audiences with messaging that stands out and resonates, ahead of influencing them towards taking action, is the only way to stand out from the noise. There’s a similar rationale if businesses are offering a niche solution and have fewer competitors. They need to have a thorough strategy for getting in front of audiences that are overwhelmed and would otherwise have no idea a solution like theirs exists.

The outtake is: in difficult times, MarComms isn’t a nice to have. It’s essential because it’s highly measurable and an incredibly impactful way to influence audiences to take action; which ultimately links back directly to the commercial objectives of the business.

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