The Ultimate Guide to Marketing for Geospatial Technology Companies

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Companies from just about every industry can benefit from geospatial technology. Trouble is, many don’t know it. This is where marketing comes in.

In this post, we’ll break down best practices of marketing for geospatial technology companies. This includes a broad swath of businesses, from GIS consultants to software developers.

We’ll cover:

  • What’s driving fast-paced geospatial technology industry growth
  • The marketing challenges faced by geospatial technology companies
  • 11 marketing best practices for geospatial and GIS firms
Ultimate Guide to Marketing for Geospatial Technology Companies

The Geospatial Technology Industry is Growing … Fast

The number and capabilities of remote sensors, satellites, drones and connected devices are exploding. Nearly every person on the planet has at least one GPS-connected device in their pocket at all times.

In other words: Just about every movement and every square meter of the planet can be tracked, mapped, analyzed and leveraged for business.

Obviously, this is great news for the geospatial technology and GIS industries.

The total market size in 2018 for global geospatial analytics was valued at $51.7 billion, according to Grandview Research.

And the same firm predicts the market will continue growing at a CAGR of 15% from until 2025.

What’s driving this impressive growth?

In a word: data.

It’s estimated that around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day, and much of this data contains some kind of location reference.

The trouble?

Many call data the new oil. But using and benefiting from data is not nearly as straightforward. (Especially when it comes to unstructured geospatial and geographic data.)

Companies of virtually every industry can benefit from geospatial data analysis.

But many are at a loss of how to do so or are completely unaware of the possibilities.

Geospatial Technology Marketing to the Rescue

This is where geospatial technology marketing comes in to play. Spoiler alert: It’s a lot more than “mapping software.”

Marketing (and an effective sales team) is the solution to bridging the gap between a possibility and a sale. After all, it’s not easy to get super-smart geospatial engineers and B2B tech buyers on the same wavelength.

In other words, a solution that’s incredibly obvious to your GIS development team may never cross the minds of your target buyers.

That is, unless you bring it to their attention through …

You guessed it!

Effective marketing for your geospatial technology company.

Now, let’s take a look at how geospatial consultants and developers can leverage B2B marketing to get in front of potential buyers.

How to Develop a Better Geospatial Technology Marketing Strategy

As part of the general technology industry, you can take some pointers from our recent article on marketing for IT companies.

However, there are several important differences between a company that sells easily demoed SaaS products and geospatial technology solutions.

Here are 11 of the most important tips for building a marketing strategy tailored specifically to geospatial tech companies.

  • Define your target market
  • Do your research
  • Define your messaging strategy
  • Build a highly visual and modern website
  • Give away your code (yes, for free)
  • Create and distribute valuable content
  • Get a big boost from client referrals
  • Build a meaningful social media presence
  • Participate in the right events and tradeshows
  • Develop an ABM strategy
  • Retain your existing clients

Tip #1: Define your target market

As we’ve outlined, the market potential for geospatial technology solutions is huge.

But, careful. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

This is one of the key marketing recommendations from Joe Morrison, Raster Foundry Product Specialist at Azavea (one of our geospatial technology clients).

If you try to target too many different industries, you’ll probably end up with a diluted message that doesn’t truly resonate with any of them.

Start small. Take on one or two specific industries or use cases where your solutions provide a clear competitive advantage. Raster Foundry, for instance, is perfectly suited to meet the needs of organizations engaged in human development and positive social change.

And only add in more once you’ve achieved a solid market position and revenue stream from your previous targets.

Tip #2: Do your research

If you think “research” requires a budget-busting agency and months and months of lost time before you can go to market – think again.

Market and competitive research, especially in B2B, is a lot less intimidating than you may imagine.

Again, start small.

Take a look at three or four of your main competitors.

Dive deep into their website, content, social media channels, and overall messaging tactics.

Emulate what you think they’re doing well. And steer clear of what doesn’t seem to be working.

In terms of your target market, start by outlining your buyer personas.

If possible, interview a few of your existing clients to find out what makes them tick, where they get their information, and why they chose you over other options.

And be sure to get feedback from your sales team. They interact with prospects on a daily basis.

Tip #3: Define your messaging strategy

In the geospatial technology space, messaging is one of the most important aspects of your marketing strategy.

It needs to be clear, concise, and highly tailored to each of your target markets and buyer personas.

Remember, you’re offering a product or service that these buyers, oftentimes, have never heard of.

Start by asking yourself and your team three questions:

  • What tangible problems are you helping each buyer persona solve?
  • What measurable business outcomes are you helping them achieve? (Think ROI, increased revenue, improved productivity, reduced operating costs, etc.).
  • How is your solution superior to your competitors‘ in ways that are valuable to your target market?

And whatever you do – avoid highly technical “geo-speak”. (This is a language only you and your geeky geospatial friends can comprehend.)

Tip #4: Build a highly visual and modern website

Show more than you tell.

When it comes to geospatial technology, it’s often more efficient and effective to show how your technology works than to explain it in words.

Incorporate plenty of high-quality images, videos, and simulations of your technology in action.

Demonstrate how your geospatial and mapping solutions can be applied to your target industries or use cases.

And remember that as a geospatial technology company, your website must be top-notch. (No matter how great your algorithms are. Yes, we know, they’re pretty darn impressive.)

#5: Give away your code (yes, for free)

According to Joe Morrison from Azavea, giving away code has become “table stakes” for geospatial technology companies.

Sound like a scary idea?

It’s not, I promise.

Azavea, and many other geospatial development firms, have seen great returns from an open-source strategy.

Some users of your free code (like academics or independent developers) will have zero interest in hiring your services. They’ll take it and run with it.

That’s fine!

It’s not likely this will have any negative effects on your business.

On the other hand, developers from companies in your target market can also discover your free code.

If they find it helps them solve one of their challenges, they’ll probably think to themselves:

“Huh, these guys already know how to do this. Why don’t we just hire them?”

Showing off your expertise via free, high-quality code is one of the best ways to gain recognition within the market.

And it will likely pay off big in the medium to long term, helping you attract and close deals with new clients.

Tip #6: Create and distribute valuable content

Today, B2B marketing is all about content.

B2B marketing content includes blog posts, infographics, videos, webinars, case studies, white papers, eBooks, interactive assessments, podcasts, and much more.

Create useful and engaging content for each of your buyer personas that helps them progress along the buyer’s journey. HubSpot defines this rather narrowly as “Awareness,” “Consideration” and “Decision.” We tend to be more liberal, as B2B buyers often jump between stages. Either way, you need to tick every box, from early-stage exploratory content to stuff that proves your value and ROI.

Distribute content using your website, multi-channel campaigns, and PR efforts to get your content in front of your target audience.

Tip #7: Get a big boost from client referrals

In the geospatial technology industry, like in many other B2B sectors, referrals are gold.

Happy clients are one of the biggest marketing assets you can hope for.

They likely have a network of contacts with similar business needs.

Your most satisfied clients may talk your business up among their network without you even asking.

But to get the most out of this valuable resource, you should consider putting together a concerted referral campaign.

This can include the creation of video testimonials, written case studies, and referral letters.

You can also create email and social media campaigns incentivizing clients to “refer a friend” in exchange for an incentive.

#8: Build a meaningful social media presence

Social media can be a great tool to distribute your content and interact with your target audience.

But it’s important to approach it from a strategic angle.

As opposed to randomly posting pics from your recent office happy hour mixed in with a couple of shots of your booth from a trade show … six months ago.

Here again, it’s important to focus your efforts on your target markets (the industries and/or specific use cases you defined at the start of the process).

Any posts and content shared should be tightly aligned with these target markets’ needs and pain points.

Other important B2B social media tips include:

  • Encourage your company’s geospatial and cartography “thought leaders” to get active on social media. Both through original posts and content as well as sharing company posts.
  • Focus on the most widely used B2B social channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook. Sorry, you’re probably not yet ‘Grammable.
  • Post consistently. This means several times per week, per channel.
  • Post your own content, please. Don’t promote the competition.
  • Interact frequently with industry-related groups and influencers.

#9: Participate in the right events and trade shows

Despite COVID-19, it’s not likely events and trade shows will become extinct any time soon.

Face-to-face interaction is one of the most effective ways to communicate with prospects. (And convince them they need your solutions).

But it’s no secret that major events and trade shows come at a hefty price tag.

Do your research and focus in on events that will provide the greatest bang for your buck. Meaning the ones that attract a large number of attendees from your target market.

And this is likely not a highly technical geospatial technology event. But rather, industry-specific events with a focus on technology.

Once you’ve chosen your events, don’t plan on just standing at our booth and waiting for prospects to come to you!

Put together a pre-event campaign through social media, email, and strategically placed digital ads to attract prospects to your booth.

And the best way to get noticed? Apply for a speaking slot.

There’s nothing quite like getting your geospatial technology thought leadership voice amplified on stage, in front of a crowd of potential clients.

#10: Develop an ABM strategy

Geospatial technology solutions are often highly customized to each client’s particular needs.

This makes it a great candidate for account-based marketing (ABM).

The goal of B2B ABM is to more effectively target that short-list of accounts you’re dying to win.

In ABM, your focus is on one specific account at a time, rather than the entire target market.

For each of these accounts, you’ll create content that focuses in on their unique business challenges and opportunities.

And then you’ll deliver this content using the channels that will resonate best with each account.

#11: Retain your existing clients

Marketing isn’t just about attracting new clients. It’s also about retaining your existing clients.

For Azavea, this is one of the main keys to success.

They’ve been able to retain several of their clients for 10+ years. (That must be some kind of a record in the tech industry!)

Here are a few tips on B2B retention marketing:

  • Don’t wait for your clients to come to you (with problems)! Schedule frequent formal and informal visits and calls to check in.
  • Connect and interact with your clients on social media.
  • Send out a useful weekly or monthly email to stay top of mind.
  • Deploy targeted campaigns with your sales and client success teams to offer new products/services or upsell what you already have.

As the old saying goes, it’s much easier (and less expensive) to retain existing clients than it is to find new ones.

Geospatial Marketing: The Bottom Line

The geospatial technology industry is growing quickly.

Yet there’s still a significant lack of knowledge in the market around what geospatial and GIS technology is, and how it can be applied to businesses.

A solid geospatial technology marketing strategy is the best way to help your company keep pace with industry growth and get in front of your target market.

Following the tips outlined in the article will help you get your marketing efforts on the right track and prioritize your budget.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.