Unfair Advantage: Why You Should Be Raking in New ClientsOctober 9, 2012 10:48 am ·
Be sure to register for my Free Webinar: Unfair Advantage: Effective Marketing for IT Businesses.
Today, I am going to share a secret with you: it’s why IT Consultants Have an Unfair Marketing Advantage when it comes to acquiring new clients.
In the past, I have coached a few non-IT clients with very large businesses. They come to me because they want to do online marketing, social media, and leverage technology to get more customers, cheaper, and faster. While working with them to increase their sales and client base, it dawned on me that IT consultants have a distinct marketing advantage over everyone else: we intuitively understand the technology that is behind search engines, social media, and the tracking that goes with it.
We already know that Facebook is really a database driven website. We have no problem filling out the forms or setting up accounts. Whereas “mere mortals” require guidance on how to upload a picture to their profile, we can do it intuitively. So, when it comes to marketing, IT consultants have a distinct advantage over just about everyone else.
So, why then, do IT consultants have such a hard time marketing? In my experience working with IT clients, it stems from two issues: fear of rejection and they don’t know the best practices for leveraging online media for marketing.
Let’s take the fear of rejection first. This is actually the easiest one to fix. Most IT consultants like to avoid conflict. We like the puzzle. We like fixing things. We enjoy the challenge. Subsequently, we avoid things like handing out bills, invoicing, and [shudder] sales. But sales is nothing more than preventing customers from buying the wrong thing. That’s it! If you had the cure for cancer, would you be shouting it from the rooftops? Of course you would. You would be running to every major news outlet you could find. OK… so that may sound like it reeks of hyperbole. But what about this: if you knew some secret that would prevent a personal disaster from happening to a friend, would you be persuading them at every instant to heed your advice? Of course you would. That is what sales really is. It is a simple process where you ask questions designed to lead your customer to their own conclusion, and then buy from you (as long as you’re the right choice… and an honest salesman will always refer out business where he’s not the best choice).
Let’s take this a step further. If all the other sales people in your area or industry are pushy, desperate, do anything to land the deal kind of people, don’ you have a moral obligation to be the one beacon of honest light among them? Would it not be selfish to keep all your skills to yourself, and just let potential clients get taken advantage of by unscrupulous IT firms that will do anything to sell a package that the client really doesn’t need? Can you really sit back and let that happen? If you’re like me, you most certainly cannot. You want to get the truth into the hands of as many customers (and potential customers) as possible. So, with this in mind, how is your outlook on sales now?
Why Marketing is Essential to Getting New Clients
Which leads us to marketing. Marketing is simply the process of creating relationships with potential clients so that they know who you are, and can trust you enough to ask you for help. It is as simple as that. So, a healthy, ethical sales and marketing mix for an IT firm uses marketing to get a message out to as many people who are in your target market as possible to build trust, convey your expertise, and attract them to you like a magnet where they will ask for your help. (That’s right, they call you!). Once they call in, you will use an ethical sales process to prevent them from buying the wrong thing or making long term, costly, mistakes with their IT policies, procedures, equipment, maintenance, or service. Now that you know the truth about sales and marketing, are you still afraid of rejection? This is not a magic shield that will protect you from all rejection. Sometimes you’re going to run into people who really cannot afford you, or who (despite all the education they receive from you) still don’t get the point. Some people are cheap to a fault. Let those people dig their own technological grave. Release them back into the wild to be ensnared by the unscrupulous sales guy who will promise them all their unreasonable demands at unreasonable rates, and unreasonable results. Let them be disappointed so that when they return to you a second time, they will be obedient clients. They will listen and respect you.
Just like you cannot squeeze blood from a turnip, you cannot squeeze respect from a prospect who is wholly unreasonable or cheap.
Now that you know the truth about sales and marketing for the IT world, let’s talk about the best practices for social media. It is a common misconception that “millions of dollars” are made directly off Facebook and other social media outlets. While it is true that a certain few people have made ludicrous sum of money from Twitter, Facebook, and others, have you actually met any of them? The only one I can think of were Justin Halpern (from $#!t My Dad Says fame). He would post his father’s one-liners on twitter, and eventually amassed over 1 million followers who were both engaged and listening. When you have a list of followers that large, you cannot help but cash in. But his experience is rather unique. How does the average IT business leverage social media? Here are two of the Best Practices in a Nutshell.
YouTube is a place where you can provide video content for your clients. For most of us, making a video like this is going to be out of the question. Most IT guys don’t have a green screen studio or a video staff to do them. But, what we DO have is copious knowledge about the computer. So, you can best leverage YouTube by creating screen captures of basic computer knowledge, and posting them on YouTube. You can make a top 10 tips and tricks for Microsoft Word. You can make a video of what the latest virus attack looks like so your clients will be able to recognize and react appropriately. You can do internet safety tips. The sky is the limit. Make each video as short as possible, but still cover the material so a layman can understand it. Follow the Debug Your Marketing cardinal rule: all messages to your market must be simple and singular. Communicate one thing at a time as simply as possible.
Facebook can be divided into two things: Facebook advertising and Fan Pages. A Fan page is NOT for your Mom, your brother, and your neighbor. Fan page attendance should be limited (as much as possible) to your current book of business. It is a place where you can build relationships with your existing clients, give them exclusive offers, and cement them into your business forever. Do not run “like us on Facebook” campaigns. They are a waste of money (if you have run any, I am sure you have already figured this out).
Facebook advertising, the PPC ads the run on the right hand side, are for getting new customers. You can run campaigns through the PPC system to find more clients like your existing ones. How so? By checking out the likes and dislikes of the fans who are clients, you can run ads to more people just like them. Too fast for you? Let me go over that in slow motion. When your Fan Page consists ONLY of your paying customers, you can leverage the Fan Page to view those customer’s public profiles (if they share them publically). Make not of their likes, dislikes, age, and gender. After creating a stat sheet of all your fans, you now have a profile to which you can market your services using Facebook advertising.
This way, you’re attracting more of the same type of people who already enjoy doing business with you.
Don’t forget to register for our free webinar: Unfair Advantage: Effective Marketing for IT Businesses