If you own or manage a computer hardware reseller, you know firsthand just how challenging it can be to keep your sales funnel consistently filled up with the right kinds of decision makers. What you may not be aware of however is just how perfect inbound marketing can be for cost-effectively solving this problem.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we look at how inbound marketing can help computer hardware resellers find clients, retain clients for the duration, and grow their businesses, we first need to address a major targeting problem that’s often found among hardware resellers.
What’s the targeting problem? It has to do with client accounts that are frankly too small to service profitably. Most of the time, these client accounts are what’s known as B2C (business to consumer), residential customers, or home users.
Simply put, when you look at your company’s cost structure, including less obvious soft costs, your threadbare profit margins may not be able to support clients who don’t purchase in enough volume to be profitable.
Or looking at it another way, if your company’s typical B2C clients each generate about $200 (or your local currency equivalent) in lifetime gross profit, how much of a marketing investment can you possibly make to acquire each of those clients? $20 (10%), $40 (20%), or $67 (33%) at the absolute most?
Now B2B (business to business) clients are quite a different scenario. And while, at the low-end extreme, some B2B clients may be too small to generate enough volume to be profitable, B2B clients have the potential to grow...often by a lot!
More importantly, B2B clients are running businesses -- where smart IT investments generate positive return on investment (ROI). And “going cheap” on IT investments can cause productivity problems, security breaches, data loss, and emergency downtime.
So because there’s a lot more riding on the line with B2B clients, as opposed to B2C clients, computer hardware resellers have a lot more upside revenue potential -- that might be an order of magnitude of 100 or even 10,000 times greater -- where $20,000 or even $2,000,000 in lifetime gross profit (or more!) is entirely possible -- depending on the average client size, use of IT, and your company's "share of wallet."
Because of that, before embarking on any kind of inbound marketing campaign to grow a computer hardware reseller, it’s critical to nail down exactly who the target market is.
Addressing the need to differentiate between B2C customers and B2B clients is a great place to start.
So now that you know which clients to steer clear of, it’s important to be mindful of how most computer hardware resellers generate revenue. Some of the most common product categories for computer hardware resellers include:
Point of sale (POS) hardware
Some computer hardware resellers also specialize in the secondary market, or “IT aftermarket” as it’s often called, where most revenue comes from the sale of:
Hardware from bankrupt OEMs
While your company’s potential clients may have different selection criteria, depending on your target client size, location, and any specific industry considerations, many SMB clients have remarkably similar criteria that they tap into when selecting a computer hardware reseller to meet their needs. This checklist of capabilities includes:
Computer hardware is definitely not a new industry. In fact, the computer hardware reseller business model can be traced back to the 1981 launch of the IBM PC -- with Sears and Computerland as original resellers.
However during the past few years, there have been massive changes in the IT industry -- specifically around the growth of cloud computing and mobile computing -- that in many ways dwarf three decades of pretty significant innovations.
What's less widely known, however, is that social media and mobile computing have caused massive changes in how people research new products and services -- and make purchase decisions.
When was the last time you actually answered your phone, landline or mobile, without looking at caller ID?
Is the phone icon on your mobile phone really your most commonly-used "app" anymore? Or has the time you spent "texting" or on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for example) eclipsed phone conversations?
When watching a TV show that you've recorded on your DVR, how often do you watch commercials?
When you need to find a service provider for your home or business, do you still use the phone book? Or run a search on your mobile device? Or ask for referrals on your social network?
When was the last time a piece of postal mail motivated you to make an immediate major purchase decision without first consulting a search engine or social network?
Do you get most of the business and technical news that you need for your job from paper-based magazines and newspapers?
When trying to solve a major pain point in your business, when was the last time you made your first order of business to have a conservation with 5-10 salespeople that controlled access to their company's product/service/information?
OK, so here's the deal.
Today, nearly 60% of the typical B2B sales cycle is over before prospective clients contact any potential vendors. (Source: CEB on “Why Solution Selling No Longer Works”)
Why is this the case? Because consumers, including your decision makers, got tired of making their purchase decisions the "old school" way. In a lot of respects, the increasing popularity of search, social, and mobile in nearly every facet of people's lives has begun a revolution of sorts.
And if your computer hardware reseller business isn't on the radar of potential clients -- because you're clinging to "old school" marketing -- one of two things will happen:
Your company's lack of inbound marketing will make it completely invisible to potential clients, who've in the meantime become highly attracted to and engaged with your competitors' inbound marketing, or
Your company will only be contacted by prospective clients who've already made their purchase decisions, but need your company to place a "bid" as a formality to satisfy their boss' request to get a few quotes (mainly because they don't regard your company as anything more than an interchangeable commodity broker)
But the good news is that these harsh realities don't have to doom your company's future. Adopt strong, proactive thought-leadership skills that advance inbound marketing so your company can:
Attract the right visitors to its website
Convert visitors to leads
Close sales with new clients
Delight clients for long-term retention
Learn more about how your computer hardware reseller business can use proven inbound marketing services to find clients, retain clients, and grow.