By Robin Robins, President, Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc.
The most frequently asked question I get from IT services firms struggling to get more new clients
First off, no one likes spending money on IT. Sure, all clients WANT shiny, brand-new, ultra-fast machines, always-on connectivity and zero downtime…but they certainly don’t want to pay for it. Second, competition is fierce, and there’s only so much of the “pie” to go around. That means most of the best business is already being served by a competitor. Then you have a number of small shops who will undercut your prices to steal business out from under you – and clients don’t necessarily understand “you get what you pay for” when it comes to IT services (unless they’ve been really burned or disappointed in the past). And finally, most of the clients YOU want are already in contracts with existing MSPs, and switching is not an easy task. Therefore, many companies will settle for mediocre IT support simply because they’re too busy putting out other fires in their business to invest time into investigating another unknown provider.
With those mountains to climb, you start to understand that sending out a postcard once in a while or having a Facebook fan page is hardly going to put a dent in your client-attraction efforts; however, there are SOME things that will in fact dramatically improve the results of your marketing campaign efforts. Here they are:
- Target the right clients. Someone once asked the famous bank robber Willie Sutton, “Why do you rob banks?” His answer: “Because that’s where the money is.” A HUGE, money-wasting mistake I see many IT services companies making is targeting prospects with marketing bullets that, even if you hit ’em, won’t matter. I see this when they rent a list from InfoUSA or some other unknown entity for the purposes of sending out a direct mail letter, conducting a telemarketing effort or sending out e-mail. Often they do a “one and done” campaign and wonder why they got little to no response. Here’s a little-known secret ALL savvy and sophisticated marketers know: the money is in the list. That’s why much of the marketing you see on Facebook and Twitter from IT companies never pays off; prospects aren’t GOING to Facebook and Twitter to find IT services – they’re going there to post pictures of their kids or what they had for dinner last night. If you want to catch a whale, don’t fish in a pond of minnows.
- Have a COMPELLING, irresistible offer for them to call you NOW. Once you have a good, quality list of potential buyers, the NEXT big hurdle is deciding what offer you are going to make them. In our company, the best offer is a free one-on-one marketing consultation where we give prospects a marketing roadmap and personalized consultation. This takes a lot of time and we COULD charge for it, but opt not to in order to maximize the number of prospects coming to us. Even THEN we need to sell it. With IT services, most ads and campaigns contain no other offer than “Call us.” That’s not an offer. If you want more fish, put some juicy bait on the hook.
- Increase the frequency of communication. Selling IT services has a LOT to do with timing. For months, a prospect might not respond to your campaigns – then, suddenly, their network fails, their contract ends, their IT guy goes MIA, etc., and they need someone NOW. Therefore, you need to be sending FREQUENT communications (at least once a month) to your prospects, or else you’ll miss the window of opportunity. Most IT services firms don’t have the discipline to get this done or the patience required to get a return. Building a brand and gaining recognition to the point where prospects trust you takes TIME and REPETITION. Muhammad Ali didn’t become heavyweight champion of the world by punching his opponents once; he punched them over and over again UNTIL they fell down. Repetition can get pricey, which is why #1 on this list – target the right prospects – is SO important. You want to concentrate your efforts on a smaller, more responsive list versus the big, broad masses.
“Robin Robins is the world’s #1 marketing and sales coach for Managed Services Providers, VARs and companies selling IT services with over 5,000 clients and more documented client success stories than any other IT marketing or IT sales consultant in the industry. To get a free one-on-one marketing consultation and customized marketing plan for your IT services business, go to www.technologymarketingtoolkit.com/smbnation.”