“Marketing isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.” – Brian Kurtz
Marketing will impact every part of your business which is why it’s as important if not more important than your IT business.
When you understand marketing, act with integrity, provide value, and apply marketing strategy to your business, your service and work becomes a vessel for delivering a positive change to the businesses and lives of the client’s you serve.
But you cannot and will not make a difference until you make the decision to consistently and aggressively market and sell your IT services.
Whether you plan to market your services yourself or plan to hire someone with marketing talent to do it for you, there are eight fundamental principles to keep in mind.
1. Protect your relationship with your customers by staying involved in the marketing process.
On the one hand, hiring someone internally to handle your marketing or outsourcing your marketing can be advantageous. It can offer an outsider perspective, keep you on top of the best strategies, free up your time, and help with consistency. But on the other hand, letting go completely can create problems such as messages being off target or not holding marketing accountable because it’s not on their dime.
When hiring people or outsourcing, make sure they are the same page as you and that they understand and recognize the value of direct marketing. Keep an eye on everything people are doing both inside and outside of your organization so that you always are protecting your reputation and the important relationship with your customers. After all, your marketing represents YOU and your brand and no one will ever care about that as much as you do.
2. Marketing is not evil.
At least most of it isn’t. There is an ethical line that some cross when it comes to marketing, and in that case, it’s not good. However, those reading this article know that line and won’t cross it. Marketing can be a beautiful thing when you responsibly market your product or service and focus on serving your clients rather than taking from them.
3. Focus on and take care of relationships.
Don’t ignore your relationship with your list – both prospects and clients. Remember these are people, not transactions. Give careful thought about what you send to your lists –even if it’s an inexpensive message such as an email. Your relationship with your list is critical. When you just throw a quick message out that isn’t quality, people will start ignoring you.
4. Be transparent and demonstrate credibility.
If there is one thing that is proven time and time again, it’s that transparency fosters trust and in today’s world that is more important than ever. Back up your claims with real proof through testimonials, case studies, and professional endorsements. When you make a mistake, don’t try to hide it. Take responsibility. People appreciate vulnerability and honesty. It will help you build a better relationship with your clients. In fact, according to Forbes, a number of polls indicate that two thirds of customers would spend more if it meant buying from a transparent company and 94% rank transparency as the number one factor when it comes to brand loyalty.
5. Thou shalt always think direct marketing.
Direct marketing is NOT just direct mail. It’s measurable and accountable marketing. Be wary of people who try to convince you to do “brand” or “image” advertising. You don’t want to do any advertising, including brand and image advertising, without being able to show a clear return on your investment (ROI). Expecting a respectable ROI, even if the campaign is inexpensive to execute, must always be a requirement.
6. Don’t be shy about showcasing your authority.
The most successful entrepreneurs are confident and talk about their accomplishments and achievements. They understand that this information is valuable to their clients and gives their clients confidence in their ability to serve them well. Don’t shy away from sharing this or fear that you sound like you are bragging. After all, as Walt Whitman said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”
7. Turn to the leading marketing expert for guidance.
When it comes to marketing, there are a lot of choices out there. Experts are much better to work with than generalists. Look to the leading marketing expert in your industry or with the specific channel you want to use to get the best results.
8. One is a dangerous and boring number.
No business should ever rely on one marketing channel because you never know when the rules for that channel can change. When Google changed their algorithm, businesses lost significant amounts of their traffic over night. You never know when Facebook is going to shut down your account, or your email provider is going to slap you with an infringement or some other rule on some other marketing channel is going to cause you to lose business. That’s one reason why you should market through multiple channels.
But it’s also important to market through multiple channels because your prospects and clients have different preferences. Some want you to contact them through email. Others prefer engaging with you over text.
When you diversify your marketing and use different channels, you decrease the risks associated with single channel marketing, appeal to more prospects, and meet your customers where they like to hang out.
Keep these principles in mind to help you build a strong business that will survive and thrive no matter what the economy is doing, who is in office, or how experienced or inexperienced you are at marketing.