Avoid This Mistake To Double, Even Triple Leads For Your IT Services Company

“I need more leads.”

A universal problem, 61% of all business owners list this as their number one problem.

Examining the marketing of the majority of MSP’s, VAR’s and IT Service companies, a common mistake revealed the problem. Typically, providers list their services followed by a phone number to call.

The equivalent of holding up the “Will Fix Computers For Food” sign, here’s an example of a recent ad I saw online: “We Are Tech Support Leader, Providing Complete IT Solutions for 15 years. Contact Us Now! One-Stop Shop For Network & Server Monitoring, IT Helpdesk, Security And Cloud Solutions. Endpoint Management. Technology Steering. Hosting & Cloud Services.”

There are multiple issues with this ad. It uses terms the reader might not be familiar with and assumes the reader already knows what he wants.   But let’s dive into the biggest, most obvious: The marketing is targeting a prospect that is ready to buy.

Here lies the problem. Only 4% of website visitors are ready to buy (source: Marketo). The other 96% are in the discovery and research phase which means they won’t respond to that type of ad.

In the IT industry, most prospects get ready to buy slowly over time, taking an average of 3 to 5 years before they ever make the decision to change providers. If your marketing and advertising look similar to this with a call-to-action of “Call Now!”, you are only reaching four percent of the audience and trying to bridge too large of a gap with the other 96 percent. 

By changing your marketing to a lead generation approach that targets the 96 percent who aren’t ready to buy yet, it’s easy to see how you could easily double, even triple your leads.

Before I get into the specifics of how to do this, let’s get some basics out of the way.

What is lead generation?
Lead generation essentially is marketing with the goal of getting a potential prospect to raise their hand and show some sort of interest in what you offer.

How to ensure you make the final cut when a customer chooses a new provider 

After interviewing hundreds of buyers, Robin Robins, Founder of Technology Marketing Toolkit, found that the average company takes three to five years before switching providers, narrowing down their choices to three companies before making a decision.

If you want to be considered, you must do the following:

Have the right mindset. Because most people aren’t ready to buy when they first encounter your company, a better approach is to focus on attracting leads and nurturing them.

Three to five years is a long time, which is why this is the part of the conversation where you might be tempted to check out, thinking there must be a different, easier way. However, let me caution you, there is no easy button. If you’re going to constantly look for simple, easy solutions, you will not succeed. You’ve got to have a realistic viewpoint and the right mindset about investing both time and money in growth and customer acquisition.

Play the long game. You can’t just randomly throw money and effort into advertising and marketing only when you need more customers and then stop when your plate is full. That start, stop, start, stop pattern will never work and will cause stress when you need money. 

You must always be thinking about how you can bring in more customers and consistently take action.

I understand that for most IT professionals, this won’t come naturally for you. You may find you are more operations-minded and inclined to spend most of your time on technology, how to fix computers and so on. But if you want to grow your business and double or triple your leads, you must adopt and add this marketing and sales mindset to the mix. You can never let up either, because if you don’t consistently make time for marketing, you’ll never have a real business, but rather be a hobbyist who has a job.

Keep an open mind. Think of yourself as a scientist looking for new ways to experiment and test proven marketing principles.

You may not like a certain kind of marketing, but that does not mean your customers won’t respond to it. For example, one client was resistant to putting a pop-up on her site. But upon testing the pop-up on her website she found it tripled site conversion.

Commit to the process. If you are jumping around from one strategy to the next, you’ll never get any traction. For example, if you do SEO for a couple of months, then hire a telemarketing company to set up appointments, you’re never going to get the systems and processes you need in place which means you’ll erroneously believe that lead generation will not work for you. Think systems and strategy. Never say, “We’re going to ‘try’ this type of marketing.” ( i.e.“We’ll ‘try’ Google Adwords.”) Instead have the mindset that if you set up the systems and processes, it will produce for you.

Develop your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). It’s important to start with a correct premise which is that the market is saturated with MSP, VAR, & IT providers. There is no shortage and dozens of choices. Nobody will leave someone good for someone or something only potentially better. Therefore, if you want to grow, you’ll need to knock out an incumbent provider.  To do that, you must articulate your USP (unique selling proposition). A USP answers the question, “Why should I do business with you versus any and every other option available to me?”

If you’re great at what you do and you’ve ever lost sales to cheaper competitors that are not as competent, this will resonate with you. If that prospect was more educated on knowing the difference between good and bad and actually knew and understood the unique value of what you offer, they would hire you. If they don’t hire you and go with cheaper competitors, you failed to impress your value proposition upon them.

The 5 basic parts to generate leads and get prospects to move towards you

Now that you have the right mindset, are committed to the process, willing to play the long game and have your USP, you’re ready to put together your lead generation marketing campaign. In order for your lead generation marketing to be successful, you’ll need these five basic elements:  

1. The list—Who are you targeting? You must decide and be able to articulate specifically who your customer is. Because who you select will define your business, the ideal customer is the most lucrative, responsive target customer. Choose wisely. Your target customer defines the package you offer, your price point, and the people you must find and hire. For example, are you selling a million-dollar deal to a large corporation or are you selling small deals to home users?  The single most important asset in your business is your list and the relationship you have with them. No other list will be as responsive as your house list. Without a house list, you’ll need to do cold prospecting, which is tough.

2. The offer – What is the offer you are making to prospects and customers? Most marketing is missing an offer. As you saw at the beginning of this article, most companies just list what they do and provide a phone number.  But in order for someone to respond to that type of offer, the company needs to, first, have an immediate need for your services and second, be sold that YOU are the person to do that for them. Rather than do what everyone else does, make an interesting offer to get them on your list. This ensures you are in front of them when they are ready to buy.

An educated prospect makes the best customer, which is why the best offer to make is educational content such as a free report, a video or webinar, for instance. A very successful offer is one where you position yourself as the expert, that can guide them successfully through something they are trying to achieve. When you can do that, they are more likely to hire you to do the job for them.

In creating your offer, speak to your ideal target market and offer something that will directly affect your business. For example, let’s say a big revenue generator for your company is Office 365 migrations. An educational piece that offered a free Office 365 migration plan would be attractive to your ideal client.

3. The message/copy – How you articulate what you do and who you do it for is paramount. This will make the difference of whether your website, your direct mail, your newsletters, your trade shows, your Google ad words, work or not. Take a $100 bill and a $1 bill. Which is more valuable? It’s printed on the same paper. It’s the same size. Printed with the same ink. It’s the same except for the message printed on the paper. It’s the same thing when it comes to your marketing. You have the same real estate for your website as another provider. The post office is going to charge you the same amount for postage to put a direct-mail piece in the mail. Your marketing can be completely ineffective or it can work like gangbusters. And it comes down to how you are communicating your message, not the media you are using to communicate it through.

The only reason to have any marketing –campaigns, literature, websites, emails, and so on—is to communicate a message that is effective. And the only way to be effective is to have a message that communicates something the customer or the prospect cares about and understands.

What you are really selling is trust, not services. So, when creating your message, identify the conversation going on in your customer’s mind, not yours and build trust.

4. Frequency and sequencing of the message –You cannot do random acts of marketing and expect to grow. It must be systematized and consistent. Also, you can’t only do online and digital marketing. It is critical that you add offline marketing because certain customers won’t be on Google or Facebook or LinkedIn looking for a provider. If you want to reach the high-ticket clients, you must do direct mail in addition to your online marketing.

5. Understand the math – Getting a new client is not free. Know what the acquisition cost is to get a customer and have a line item for sales and marketing. Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank says he won’t invest in a company unless they can articulate what it costs to get a customer. That’s because most every business owner makes the same mistakes when it comes to the math, which is to spend less. They want the cheapest marketing idea and the cheapest marketing they can do.

However, the goal should be to spend more to get a customer and make the math work. When you do that, you will have a strategic competitive advantage.

For example, let’s say you are working on a thin budget and you are trying to do everything through email marketing and free marketing channels such as posting on Facebook and LinkedIn. But your competitor is spending $500 to generate a lead and $2000 to get a customer. That competitor will beat you every time because they can spend money to get directly with the decision-maker by sending direct mail through FedEx followed by a highly trained salesperson calling to follow up. Meanwhile, you’re gambling that the same person will see your LinkedIn message.

When you understand the marketing and money math, you are at a competitive advantage because you can do more, invest more and show up in media that other companies can’t afford to do. Plus, when you understand the marketing and money math, you can look at how to develop that customer to get the most out of them on the backend.

Decide who you want as a customer. Put together a very compelling message and offer. Consistently target them by frequently sending messages in the right sequence, using online and offline marketing, and understand your marketing math. Then put together a budget for customer acquisition. When you do, you will increase your leads significantly, even double, triple or more, and reliably get appointments, including with customers you never got in with before.

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