There are a number of IT marketing strategies that you can use to grow your client base, making your computer business more widely known. Although somewhat difficult, this can be extraordinarily effective.
Why is getting more widely known so effective? Because, very few computer-related businesses actually achieve this measure of local celebrity, so those that do really stand out from the crowd.
Imagine walking into a typical business after-hours event hosted by your local chamber of commerce. You make eye contact and extend your hand. You introduce yourself, tell which company you’re from and get two words into your 30-second elevator pitch when you’re enthusiastically interrupted.
“Oh, I know exactly who you guys are, and boy, could we use your help!”
Wow! Do you know how many steps you just removed from your sales process?
Do you have any idea how much faster this lead will transition into a paying customer?
Are you even factoring in how much higher your margins can be when you have an entire client list built from those who are (a) entirely not price sensitive and (b) totally enamored with your firm’s local reputation?
In the video tutorial that follows, you’ll learn about six IT marketing strategies that can catapult your business into local celebrity-dom. A lightly edited transcript follows below.
How Can I Make My Company a More Widely Known Business?
The reality is that "widely" is relative.
Build Up Local Celebrity Status, Not National Celebrity Status
Many local computer consulting firms, VARs, solution providers, network integrators, computer repair businesses, and IT businesses should really focus on being well-known locally rather than regionally.
Most successful companies in these fields define their service areas as those small businesses that they can reach within a 60 minute drive.
This is because clients want peace of mind that you can get there fast enough so that if there was ever an emergency you could be there right away. Of course, if you do your job well, you won’t have many emergencies, but customers still need that reassurance.
It is part of what they are paying for, part of their investment in you. They need you to not just solve their business and IT problems with creative approaches and ROI-focused results, but to realize that part of their relationship with your firm is a sort of insurance policy, and that if they need it, you are going be there for them.
That is a big part of the reason they want a local relationship and it is very important for you too, because part of the value you bring to the table is handholding and being able to work side-by-side with your clients, leading them through issues and taking charge of anything and everything to do with their IT needs.
It is very hard to establish that sense of value over a VPN connection. You can supplement all of these things, but the moment you put yourself in a situation where the relationship can be done long distance, you are opening yourself up to competition that you just do not want.
The same way, at this stage of the game small businesses could find accountants and attorneys that they can deal with long distance.
An awful lot of businesses need handholding, especially offline brick-and-mortar businesses that have value in the local community in the form of relationships with customers.
These businesses want the same thing from all vendors, including trusted business advisors and trusted technology advisors, so the face-time and handholding is extraordinarily important to maintaining that intimacy and the long-term continuity.
Use Proactive IT Marketing Strategies to “Own” Your Niche
When we talk about becoming widely known, think locally, not even regionally.
Think locally, because then it's even easier to become widely known in a niche.
What do I mean by a niche?
Focus on a specific industry in your local area. Do not focus on a certain block, postal zip code, area code, telephone code, metropolitan area, county, or province; if you want to easily become more widely known, focus on specific kinds of small businesses within a niche in that area.
For example, becoming the go-to person for the IT needs of dentists in the greaterSan Diego,Californiaarea is a business plan issue. If you are going after that niche with your IT marketing strategies, go to a place like zapdata.com or infoUSA.com. Figure out exactly how many dentists there are in the greater San Diego area.
You will find that there are at least a few hundred dentists, which could support a viable business if you are looking for a 10% or 20% market share. That's very doable if you are tightly focused on the little niche.
However, if you are trying to be a general small business technology provider, you are certainly not going to have a market share anywhere near there, or it's going to be extraordinarily expensive to scale up to that size in a very fragmented space.
What you end up doing is focusing on one segment at a time or focusing on things that get you further along in the sales process more rapidly, as opposed to going with an all-out full court press on a small subset or just a small niche.
Appear to Be Everywhere
In terms of becoming more widely known, regardless of whether we are talking about within a niche or within a region, make sure that you are seen to be everywhere. Have a presence within all relevant local business organizations. You should not only be a member but an active member, on a committee and serving on panels when they have breakfast seminars. You should sponsor an event from time to time, or when they look for someone to do things like put a business card ad in the annual dinner gala journal, you should step up to the plate.
Make sure you also have relevant presence at business expos and tradeshows that are attended by your target market.
Make sure that you have a presence in relevant local newsletters, newspapers, and magazines, whether you write the weekly or monthly tips column on technology-related issues, you advertise from time to time, or you write letters to the editor. Build a relationship with the appropriate reporter covering your area so you get quoted as a source a couple of times a year. Send relevant press releases out regularly.
If there are blogs and podcasts related to your particular niche, network with the bloggers and the podcasters to make sure that you get some virtual time once in a while.
Position yourself to do speaking engagements and seminars that reach your target audience.
Think of how you can use targeted direct mail to maintain a presence and become more widely known among your target audience.
Make Your Company Impossible Not to Notice
This is a matter of being organized, being proactive, and following through.
We have suggested eight or more different things that you could do. It would be very difficult to do all of them simultaneously, but if you want to become more widely known, you do want to be everywhere (or at least give the impression of being everywhere).
This should mean that prospects, customers, and clients can’t turn around without bumping into you wherever they go. If you have a bigger company, it’s even better if they also bump into different people connected to your business, your virtual footprint, your articles, buzz, and the word-of-mouth going around about the company.
Do something unique. To really stand out from the crowd you could write a book, sponsor an event, donate something, or get on the board of directors of a relevant organization.
Think long-term; becoming widely known is not something that you are going to achieve overnight.
Break Your IT Marketing Strategies Down into a Week-by-Week Plan of Attack
There is no magic pill for all of this. If you want to make this happen, we strongly encourage you to write a simple plan of attack.
Write a checklist and prioritize it by the month, the quarter, and by the year.
Plan at least 12 to 18 months in advance, and then block out that time on your calendar and actually start working on these goals week-by-week, month-by-month, and quarter-by-quarter, so that you can start chipping away at your goals and actually make progress in becoming more widely known.
Again, it’s not as if you do something once, attend one event, write one thing, or speak to this one group; it’s a matter of doing all of these.
Use Your Branding Halo to Accelerate Your Sales Cycle and Close Bigger Projects and Agreements Faster
If you want to become a more widely known business, and there are many benefits for doing so, branding can cut your sales cycle tremendously.
These IT marketing strategies that make your computer business more widely known can eliminate many sales objections. They can help you command higher hourly premium billing rates, which improves your profit margins greatly.
Just bear in mind that to become more widely known takes time, and it really does take being everywhere.
Thanks so much for tuning in and stopping by today to learn about how your computer business can become more widely known in your local community.
Review of How to Make Your Business More Widely Known
Build up local celebrity status.
Use proactive IT marketing strategies to "own" your niche.
Appear to be everywhere.
Make your company impossible not to notice.
Break down your IT marketing strategies into a week-by-week plan of attack.
Use your branding halo to accelerate your sales cycle and close bigger projects and agreements faster.
Share Your Thoughts
Which IT marketing strategies have you used to make your firm more widely known?
Please share your tips, hints, and feedback in the Comments area below.
If you received valuable information from this tutorial, please (a) forward this article to a friend who can benefit from it, and (b) post it to your favorite social networking site.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Ms. President