If you’re looking to get more great B2B clients, you need to plan ahead for handling your computer consulting firm’s marketing campaigns and related day-to-day activities.

Given that it’s all too easy to get sidetracked by the latest client emergency of the day, award-winning employee drama, or a great-sounding new channel program promotion, focus is the key.

With this in mind, let’s watch a video that answers the question, “What are the best-known ways to market computer consulting services?”
A lightly edited transcript follows below:
What are the best-known ways to market computer consulting services?

(1) Think B2B, Not B2C

First and foremost, let’s make sure we are thinking of B2B (business-to-business) instead of B2C (business-to-consumer). So, make sure that you focus either exclusively or primarily on B2B.

Home business users are extraordinarily difficult to service profitably. For a lot of people (computer consulting business owners),  the way they execute home computer repair and home business computer repair, it’s a lot more like charity as opposed to a profitable business. And I’m sure you do not want to become a nonprofit agency or organization accidentally.

It’s important that your business continue adding clients and doing so profitably, so you can continue to be there for the clients who depend on you. So, first and foremost, when it comes to marketing your computer consulting services, think B2B, not B2C. 

(2) Reach Prospective Clients Earlier in the Sales Cycle

Second, you want to reach them (prospective clients) earlier on in the sales cycle to grab mind share and plant the seeds for future engagement long, long, long before you get price-shoppers.

Get to people before they even realize they have a need. You are essentially training them to know that you are the go-to person that they absolutely, positively have to call when they have these needs.

In other words, you are snagging them and planting the seeds in their minds long before they go in a scramble and are just looking for…on Google, or in the coupon pack, the person who calls them back the fastest and is the cheapest. You don’t want to get into the fastest and cheapest game.

It’s great to be a quick responder, but don’t put yourself into an auction, or bidding situation where you are essentially a commodity broker, which kills your (profit) margins and is really demeaning. 

(3) Figure Out What Your Prospective Clients Know, and Don’t Know, About IT

Recognize that non-technical business owners and managers, who are not IT professionals, generally don’t have much experience hiring IT consultants.

Someone that owns a small chain of restaurants is very skilled at hiring chefs, wait staff, and hostesses. But when it comes to hiring an IT company or VAR to put in a point of sale system (POS), the restaurant owner doesn’t have all that much IT expertise.

It’s very important that you plant the seeds early on in the process, so you don't end up with a lousy marketing plan, or lack of a marketing plan, that’s just putting you in the commodity broker bidding situation all the time.

You don’t want to get into price competition; it’s not a good place to be for the future growth of your business. It really even wasn’t the place to be 15 or 20 years ago. 

(4) Sell Your Value Proposition to Avoid Price Wars

Now more than ever, sell the value proposition of your company:
  • What you bring to the table
  • The long-term business solutions that utilize technology as an effective competitive weapon to:
    • Grow their businesses
    • Grow new revenue sources
    • Reduce overhead
    • Improve productivity
    • Add new revenue streams
    • Grow to new locations much, much more efficiently 

(5) Reinvent How You Resell Products

Focus on selling your value proposition instead of just pushing boxes.

It’s not about just lobbing some servers, access points, or routers over the wall and shipping a bunch of stuff. It’s not about that at all. It hasn’t been about that for a long, long time.

A lot of the successful people in the computer consulting space don’t even resell products anymore. They just strictly spec out their clients' needs for their IT infrastructure, plus:
  • Get multiple price quotes
  • Compare the quotes to help clients in the selection criteria
  • Place the orders for the clients
  • Track shipping
  • Make sure that when the assets come in, they are properly tagged, inspected, setup, and customized
And all of that is just simply billed by the hour.

The old way was that you made about 10- or 15-percent profit margins, and you charged for a limited amount of services that supplemented that.

Many computer consulting business owners are not taking the title of the products anymore.

They are not tying up their capital on lousy, low-margin product reselling. They are simply acting as procurement agents, as one of 15 or 20 value-added services that they get involved in with their clients.

And, of course, you bill by the hour for that, just as you’d bill for any other work that you do for them... whether it’s configuration, testing, training, troubleshooting, consulting, advisement, strategy planning – all the other different things that you do with your small business IT clients on a regular basis.

(6) Only Market Your Computer Consulting Services to Qualified Leads

It is very important when you are trying to figure out the best-known ways to market your computer consulting business, that you properly qualify your leads:
  • Are they geographically desirable?
  • Are they big enough, but not too big?
  • Is there a good platform match with your firm’s expertise?
  • Is there a good industry match?
  • How do they get (IT) support now?
  • How have they gotten IT support in the past? 

(7) Build Relationships with Trusted Business Advisors and Non-Competing Technology Providers in Your Community

Again, a lot of people ask the question, “What are the best-known ways to market computer consulting businesses?”

The single strongest vehicle for most people (computer consulting business owners), and it costs hardly anything, is building relationships with local trusted business advisors and non-competing technology providers.

Make friends and build relationships with accountants, attorneys (solicitors), management consultants, advertising agencies, SEO consultants, and local non-competing technology providers, such as deeply-niched expert specialists in
Partner with any and all of these deeply-niched experts when you take care of the big picture (for your small business clients): anything and everything having to do with their IT needs.

Why are these relationships so very, very important?

These folks already have the relationships with the clients that you want to get a foot in the door with. These companies, these individuals, already have the really, really valuable trusted advisor relationships with the small businesses that you are trying so hard to get your foot in the door with.

So again, this is one of the most effective, but not so widely known ways (one of the reasons why it’s still very effective) to market computer consulting services.

The key is to build relationships with people (trusted advisors) in your local community. 

(8) Don’t Network One at a Time (Unless You’re in No Big Hurry)

All too often, with networking, you are thinking of one relationship at a time: connect with a prospective client to handle all their IT needs.

Why focus on just one prospective client at a time? That’s a nice consolation prize, but you are much better off building relationships with people (trusted business advisors) that can refer several prospective clients.

It’s up to you to figure out if you want to pay a referral fee, barter services, or whether you are passing enough business their way so that the relationship is fairly reciprocal.

That’s up to you to figure out when you are sitting down and talking about how you can work together, synergize, and how you can make the relationship mutually beneficial. 

(9) Become the Answer to the Question, “Do You Know Someone Who’s Great at IT?”

The key thing to keep in mind is that there are people (trusted business advisors) in your local community who are constantly asked for advice.

You call your accountant, “I’m having trouble getting good health insurance coverage for my business. Can you recommend someone?”

Or, “I’m getting the runaround with my 401(k) provider. Who do you use?”

Or you call your attorney and ask, “I know that you specialize in corporate law, but my neighbor is going through a really messy divorce.  Can you recommend a good divorce attorney?”

This happens all the time (hopefully not the messy divorce part), where people are turning to their trusted business advisors and asking for referrals to other trusted business advisors.

So get yourself plugged into all of that. Make sure you participate in that because all of those leads you get are some of the highest quality leads you’ll ever get. Why? There’s usually a much quicker sales cycle, prospective clients have a lot less sales resistance, and prospective clients are not all that price-sensitive, which is better for your profit margins.

This (networking with trusted business advisors and non-competing technology providers) may be the lowest cost, high-impact thing you can do.

Give yourself a goal of meeting one new person like this per month.

In terms of expense, people are willing to max out their credit cards to do big direct mail campaigns, big phone-book advertising buys, and all kinds of crazy pay-per-click (PPC) advertising stuff.

The reality is, “(Do) you know how inexpensive it is to take someone out to lunch or breakfast? And do this once or twice a month, or a couple of times a year?” It costs next to nothing relative to what that relationship can bring to you over a period of several months or several years.

And think long-term with these relationships. It's not like you will go have a cup of coffee with them at Starbucks, and they will refer 10 clients to you immediately.

It doesn’t work like that; it’s like building up friendships. They have to trust you first. 

(10) Plant the Seeds

A lot of times, however, you can get to know trusted advisors and start to plant these seeds through:
  • mutual acquaintances
  • giving talks at organization meetings
  • sponsoring or attending seminars

Be aware that certain kinds of influencers can make an enormous, enormous dent in helping you market your computer consulting business more effectively -- much more than worrying about just connecting up with one prospect at a time.

Try to meet with one new contact like this each and every month.

Build and nurture these relationships.

Focus on how you can help them, just as much as they can help you.

Just like any friendship, stay in touch at least four, five, or six times per year.

Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a phone call, “I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages. We’ve got to get together and go out to lunch. We’ve got to get together for drinks. We’ve got to get together and go to a ball game.” Build that chemistry. Remember, you can’t fake this. This can’t all be done virtually (sorry, LinkedIn). A firm handshake and eye contact are extremely important.

These folks can eventually become an extension of your sales force. And if it’s comfortable for you and for them, by all means, pay a referral fee or finder’s fee.

It’s up to you, with each individual relationship, to work out what works best for them. But definitely, take the time to build up these relationships, which can be done on a very limited budget, yet still get fantastic results.

Thanks for stopping by today and for asking this question, “What are the best-known ways to market computer consulting services?” We hope we’ve given you some good food for thought to put to use right away out there in the field. And we look forward to hearing your success stories real soon. 
And to follow through on the tips and strategies introduced in this tutorial, especially if you also work with SaaS and IaaS clients, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.

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