By The Business Solutions Network
Solutions providers often tell me that their growth is from “word of mouth” referrals. Their eyes light up and a big smile covers their face when they tell me this. “How much do you expect to grow this year?” I ask. That’s when their eyes begin to wander and refuse to lock with mine. That’s when the smile fades and they muster as much pride as possible to give me a single-digit growth number. Word of mouth referrals are great. We all love them. But they alone will not create a booming business in most cases. You need to do real marketing.
When it comes to real marketing, many solutions providers fall short. This is typically because they either don’t believe in the power of marketing or don’t have the time and money to invest. In both cases, a big mistake is being made. Marketing, when done correctly, can have a significant effect on sales, producing an ROI that exponentially exceeds the initial investment.
I recently had a mix of different channel experts at my disposal talking about things like pricing, sales, and bundling solutions. While I had them on the line, we also talked a bit about marketing and common mistakes solutions providers make. Here are the most valuable comments that you should take to heart:
- “Many IT providers use too many icons and associations and too heavily promote their certifications. NO ONE CARES if you are a Microsoft Gold Partner. Seriously. Only Microsoft cares about that. Ever notice how clean, simple, and elegant the Apple websites are? It’s because they control the message about their product. They don’t let Intel, Nvidia, or anyone else slap their branding on anything. Keep it clean. Keep it about your solution, not your vendors. IT people think like IT people (we cannot help it), but our customers are NOT IT PEOPLE!!!” — Tom Clancy Jr., partner and manager of sales and operations, Valiant Technology
- “The #1 mistake is not spending enough. I have heard different numbers, but overall it seems to be agreed you should spend at least 10 percent of revenue. If you have the right marketing this will come back tenfold.” — Jerod Powell, CEO, INFINIT Consulting
- “Too much of an emphasis on the products you use for service delivery sends the wrong message. Other companies will be offering the same or similar products but they are not the same as you and you need to explain why you are more than the products that you sell. Focusing on your understanding of the business challenges your prospective clients face demonstrates that you are interested in the outcomes for them, not the outcomes for you.” — Alistair Forbes, General Manager, LogicNow
- “Many solutions providers try marketing once and don’t do it again. Marketing is a continuous effort that needs to be done week over week – month over month – year over year – to build a brand and get the results you’re looking for. Another common mistake is to invest in a great piece of collateral with no real call to action or that points to a website that is completely outdated both visually and content-wise. Another quick point: MSPs need to benchmark the starting point and measure results, and adjust accordingly. Don’t be afraid to bring in outside help if you need it. Marketing is an expertise, not just another hat you wear.” — Neal Bradbury, Co-Founder and VP, Channel Development, Intronis
- “Marketing is the lifeline to your growth and it doesn’t always cost money. Solutions providers can easily do monthly webinars at no cost to the businesses in their area.” — Marco La Vecchia, VP, North America, AVG Technologies Inc.
- “Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations in order to find out what works for your specific needs, as well as break out niche or vertical-specific marketing as these groups of prospects will require a defined message versus a general marketing message you can utilize for the rest of your prospects. Also keep in mind that every sales campaign is different: what works for one might not necessarily work for another.” — David Weeks, Channel Sales Manager, SolarWinds N-able