“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.”
The Small Business Administration estimates that over 50% of new businesses will fail within the first 5 years of operation.
There are many possible reasons for this. Lack of experience, insufficient capital, poor location, etc.
However, in my experience in working with hundreds of independent computer consultants and small MSPs, I can say with confidence that the number one reason a small business owner struggles is because they do not market their business properly.
There are only three ways to grow any business:
1. Bring in new customers
2. Sell customers more stuff for more money
3. Sell to your customers more often
These three things can be accomplished only through marketing.
It’s no surprise to me to find so many consultants having a difficult time, when after just a short conversation I find that they are spending so very little time and effort focused on the most important area of growing their business.
The main reason is usually due to a lack of knowing what marketing strategies will work and how to execute them properly.
Here’s a list of seven marketing strategies that have been proven to be effective for IT Support Businesses and MSPs.
1. Direct Mail Sales Letters – A properly written sales letter can easily be the most effective form of marketing an IT Support company can use. To execute an effective campaign however, requires the following:
A. Use a reliable mailing list – There are many reputable list providers that can deliver you a list of companies that fit your ideal target customer size, industry and geographic location. If you’re located in the US, your local library may provide you with free access to the ReferenceUSA database, an incredibly valuable list resource.
B. Use a properly written Sales Letter – Copywriting, or the art and science of knowing how to write words that sell, is a skill that requires study, training and practice. There are many excellent books that can give you the foundations of how to write a good advertisement. Alternately, you can hire a qualified copywriter to write your sales letter for you.
C. Follow Up – This is the step that will make or break your direct mail campaign. Entering into a relationship with a new IT Support Provider is a significant commitment for a small business owner to make. You’re going to have to touch that business owner multiple times to get that relationship off the ground. Your sales letter is an excellent first step, but additional follow-up, through a phone call or additional mailings is going to be needed if you want to make your campaign a success.
2. Referrals – A prospect will hire you only once they feel they can trust you – when they trust you will do the job you promise. The easiest way to establish that trust is if your prospect is introduced to you by a colleague of theirs who can vouch for your reliability. And the easiest way to get referrals? Do a stellar job for your existing clients – and then ask for one!
3. Business Networking –Business networking gives you the opportunity to meet dozens of like-minded business owners or sales professionals that will go out of their way to find you a new customer and refer them your way. Successful business networking only happens when the referrals flow both ways. Don’t expect your network members to deliver you referrals unless you can do the same for them.
4. Cold-Calling – When done consistently, cold-calling can be the fastest and least expensive way to acquire new customers. The trick to cold-calling success is to do it consistently, use a reliable list of targeted prospects and use a script that has been practiced to the point where it can be delivered comfortably. There are many prospects out there right this moment who need a new computer consultant. If you call on them, they will talk to you.
5. Your Website – An effective website is one that sells your service to every visitor who lands on your home page. This is done through effective copywriting, very much like a direct mail sales letter. When a visitor comes across your website, this may be your one and only opportunity to establish a relationship. Copywriting – not Flash or graphics or witty slogans – is what will give you the best shot at pulling the prospect into your sales funnel.
No matter how well written your website, however, it’s not going to be very effective if no one sees it. So make sure to put some SEO efforts into it and get it listed high up in the search engine rankings for the most effective keywords in your area.
6. A Monthly Newsletter– If a prospect visits your website but isn’t ready to make contact with you, offering them an informative newsletter is an excellent way to draw them into your sales funnel and automatically maintain regular contact with them. Each month you’ll be providing them with valuable information and reminding them of who you are, so when a need does arise, they’ll be thinking of you.
A monthly newsletter is also an excellent way to promote new products or services to existing customers.
7. Free Trial – For a prospect to enter into a long term relationship with you, they have to trust that you’re the right provider to do the job. The easiest way to prove this to them is to let them try you out for free. With the extremely low cost and ease of installation of today’s remote monitoring and support utilities, the cost of providing a free trial of your service is minimal. Considering what the lifetime value of a monthly, managed small business client can be for you, isn’t it worth it to give them a month of your service on the house so they can see how wonderful you really are?
Just using a few of these techniques in your IT marketing arsenal can be effective enough to generate the new business your company needs to continue to thrive. Put all of these techniques into play simultaneously, and your sales funnel will quickly be overflowing with hot new clients.