How to Market Computer Services (Video and Transcript)
While most owners of IT-related businesses understand the need for constantly adding new customers and clients, what’s less clear is how to market computer services effectively.
In this video tutorial, you’ll learn seven ways to market your computer services more effectively.
A lightly-edited transcript follows below.
So the most basic question is, “How can I most effectively market my business?”
Target Your Marketing Efforts
Well, it first comes down to understanding that there needs to be targeting.
Don't try to be all things to all people. Often, your natural tendency with how to market computer services is to look at huge computer superstore chains, huge office supply store chains, huge mail-order retailers, and huge warehouse clubs and think that you can emulate them. But these companies invest a fortune in branding.
You don’t have that luxury to market computer services that way when you are in a small IT company, trying to be all things to all people. You have to work a lot smarter and use your brain because unfortunately, you cannot afford to outspend the giants in your industry.
Many of the giants that people mistakenly try to compete with will spend more on their marketing budget before lunchtime on January 1 than you spend in your entire year, so it’s not a matter of outspending them; you have to outsmart them, and you do that by targeting.
Stop Believing that Small Business is a Target Market
When asked who you're marketing to, if your answer is “small businesses,” then you have a problem.
“Small businesses” is really not a niche and not a target market. It’s far too broad to be effective, because the term small business doesn’t narrow down the size, number of PCs, industry, how they’ve gotten their support, what the support potential is, or even what the service revenue potential is for your business.
So let’s first establish that small business, as a target market, is too broad and that we have to be more specific.
Market Computer Services Geographically
Narrow things down geographically. For most people figuring out how to market computer services, it’s a matter of having a service radius within a certain distance or certain amount of driving time. Regardless of where you are located, 30- to 60-minutes driving time is what most small business IT companies, consulting businesses, VARs, service providers, and computer repair businesses can manage.
Obviously, if your business is located in metro London, downtown Manhattan, or a similar location, it’s a little bit harder to get around because of traffic congestion. In that scenario, it’s going to be more about how fast you can get there as opposed to mileage.
First and foremost, define small business by geography, the zip or postal codes, a portion of the state, or a province. Some people will look at area or city codes for telephone purposes and others will look at a MSA – metropolitan statistical area – or something along those lines.
But the key thing is that you have to be specific about geography.
Recognize that Size Matters…a Lot!
Second, narrow things down by size. All small businesses are not created equal.
Innuendos aside, size matters a heck of a lot when it comes to figuring out how to market computer services.
Typically, look for small companies that have somewhere between 10 and 50, and sometimes as high 50 to 100 employees, 10 to 100 workstations, multiple servers, and multiple locations.
Generally, the more sophisticated the IT needs are and the more dependent the company is on IT, the better quality of client it is going to be for your firm. This is because the company’s leaders understand what IT can do for their business and they realize it’s only going to get better from there. That’s where you come into play.
In terms of annual revenue, look for companies with anywhere from $1 million to $20 million in annual revenue. If you do business in Pounds, Euros, Francs, or Rands, obviously you want to convert to your local currency equivalent.
In many cases, when it comes to renting lists from mailing list companies, you can even target by the estimated number of PCs.
You can again look at the number of locations and the number of servers that the company has and you want to make sure that there is a strong need for IT services on an outsourced basis.
Get Proactive about the Industries that Your Marketing Targets
Third, know what industry your prospective clients are in, what makes their businesses tick, what niche they fit into.
For example, in the United States, there’s the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which categorizes what a business does.
Obviously, if you have the prospects’ website URLs and About Us pages, you can find this out pretty quickly.
What the business does is absolutely and positively must-know information when you are deciding whether it makes the cut, whether it is qualified to be a client of yours, and whether it seems similar enough to your existing clients to be worth your effort for the courtship and lead nurturing.
This focus by industry is one of the most powerful things you can do when it comes to how to market computer services.
Focus on Those with the Same Basic Pain Points
Because nurturing leads is resource-intensive, make sure that before you invest several hundred dollars, or in some cases substantially more, in nurturing those leads that they are at least in the right ballpark.
That’s why it’s important to see if the business is in the right ballpark size-wise and industry-wise, similar enough to your existing clients, and similar enough to your target clients to be worth your efforts.
Again, it's easier to come up with an effective marketing plan, campaign, and offer if you know that most of the people that you are addressing are worried about the same basic set of issues.
For example, if you are coming up with a direct mail campaign to address the IT needs of dental offices, you know that most dentists in your given area are largely going to be worrying about similar kinds of technology issues.
How do you find out precisely what those issues are? Take a survey, take a poll, or read some trade publications.
However, it’s a lot easier to hit your targets right between the eyes and get them to pay attention and take notice of your company when you are marketing to one group at a time and by industry.
This will most certainly make your message resonate a lot better and is critical to how to market computer services more effectively.
Find Out How Much Members of Your Target Market Have in Common with Each Other
How do you really tell they truly are a homogeneous group?
How do you really tell if their needs are similar?
Well, if they all belong to the same trade group, would they have enough in common to make them thoroughly engaged in sharing war stories?
Again, we are talking about the owner or office manager of a dental practice.
Whether you are talking about owners of health clubs, small restaurant chains, or insurance agencies, you can bet that if you are approaching your marketing campaigns one industry at a time, it’s going to be infinitely easier to hit the raw nerve, figure out what the problem is, and deliver on your promise of a solution.
Obviously, you need a great headline, good copy editing, a good offer, and a strong call to action. Do this in a way that will entice them to request your white paper, sign up for your seminar or webinar, or request your DVD on the seven must-know secrets that every dentist has to know before buying a computer network, or whatever showcases your added value.
But again, when it comes to how to market computer services effectively, first – geography, second – size, third – niche or industry.
A word of caution to you: make sure that you absolutely, positively do not waste any money or time on lame, outdated institutional advertising at this stage of the game.
Don't bet your advertising budget on old-school methods like phonebook advertising, coupon packs, or things that basically look like your business card.
Make sure that all of your marketing has a headline that resonates with your intended audience, plus persuasive copy, bullet points, urgency, and a strong, compelling, clear call to action.
There needs to be something that motivates your target audience to take action sooner rather than later because we all know if they don’t take action now, it is going to be filed in the circular file.
Again, you must have a compelling soft offer and a strong, urgent call to action such as, “Visit our website now to get your free report on the top 20 little known secrets of expensive technology consultants.”
Review of How to Market Computer Services More Effectively
Target your marketing efforts
Stop believing that small business is a target market
Market computer services geographically
Recognize that size matters...a lot!
Get proactive about the industries that your marketing targets
Focus on those with the same basic pain points
Find out how much members of your target market have in common with each other
What do you see as the key ingredient involved in how to market computer services more effectively? Do you have an idea for adding a #8 to the above list? Please share your tips, hints, thoughts, and war stories in the Comments area below.
And to follow-through on the strategies introduced in this tutorial video, be sure to download your free special report on the Top 10 IT Marketing Strategies For Consistently Attracting New Business Clients to Your Small IT Business.