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Awake the Marketer in You

Many IT Resellers are always contemplating how to best market their business. Unfortunately, most typically focus on existing relationships and hanging their business future on word-of-mouth. This old tactic has value, but it must be updated.

Did you forget what it took to get your first customers, when you started your business? Most successful companies had to have done some marketing when they started – that is probably how they found their first customers. Why do companies start out hungry to find new clients then at some point, they stop? Did you also loose your “eye of the tiger”? Read on…

When VARs ask me for advice on what to do to market their business, I ask back: “What did you do to find customers when you first started your business?” Go ahead and ask yourself this question and see what comes to your mind! Getting back to your roots and applying the same energy to find new clients, is sound advice.

There is a marketer somewhere inside all entrepreneurs. Marketing may actually be the fundamental building block of an entrepreneur. When I ask entrepreneurs how they started and grew their business, I see the excitement that only fellow entrepreneurs can truly understand.

Unfortunately, this excitement fades over time. It usually happens when entrepreneurs “morph” into being business operators (constantly putting out fires) – I call this “Death of an Entrepreneur”. It is when business is not as much fun as it used to be.

I like to compare a business operator with a Franchisee. They pay the franchisor a fee to do the marketing and other services so they focus on the day-to-day operations. You, as an independent VAR, MSP or ITSP, are the franchisee AND the franchisor! What would a franchise be worth if the franchisor did nothing?

Randal Wark, one of our VARCoaches, recently held a workshop on setting a business vision for your company. Wark said, “ Entrepreneurs are so busy working IN their business, that they forget to work ON their business”. This resonated very well with the attending VARs, MSPs and ITSPs.

Wark added, “Without a clear vision of where you want to go, how will you get others to follow you? It is mission critical to know where you want to go, so you can figure out how to get there from where you are. Second, you also need to be able to articulate your vision to your staff to motivate them to play an active role”.

If you need some help in clarifying and communicating your business vision, [GET HELP ON YOUR BUSINESS VISION TODAY] .

Marketing is one of the most important activities of any business. As such, it is wise to make time and allocate resources for it. Marketing can be complex, but it is not difficult. We have been growing our business for over 23 years and we literally never had a bad year – even through recessions. One of the things that we have been doing is called “drip” marketing. It is exactly what it sounds like. You constantly educate your prospects about what you can do for them, one drop at a time. Back in the day, this was cutting edge. Since then, we have evolved to take advantage of the new possibilities in the digital age.

How to do it? Keep on communicating with our prospects as often as possible. If you can, tailor content for each prospect’s needs. Never be too pushy or get frustrated. Try to be there when they need you.

In the long term, it usually pays off. If you build the case for your company every day, every month and every year, eventually your (qualified) prospects should do business with you. If not, then your efforts may need to adapt or the prospect may not be the right fit. When you find a new customer, always do what you say and at a reasonable fee. If anything, promise less and deliver more. It will help you to retain that new customer.

Many companies overlook many “freemium” marketing activities. Try them and find out which ones are the right for your company, here are a few to get started:

• Collaborate with associations.
• Attend business and charity functions to network.
• Participate in channel events.
• Work with vendors to do joint campaigns.
• Get listed on the where to buy section of your vendors’ web sites.
• Work your social media.

Remember, free is good but free just gets you some of the basics. If you do not plan on investing real money into your marketing efforts, then you may not get the results you want.

There are at least 50 things that you can do to market your business and grow your revenues. We have seen lots of successes and failures with many VARs, MSPs and ITSPs. While we have a very good idea of what works and what doesn’t, we are always learning new tactics from these companies. One common trait of successful IT resellers is that they are always on the hunt for new clients. The most successful have an organized hunting practice for getting new clients.

Sales will follow good marketing, just like night follows day. Be patient as the results may not always be visible immediately, but it will, eventually. No marketing is risk free. You will make costly mistakes so learn fast and move on. Saying you do not believe in marketing because you lost money on the last campaign is a sure path to extinction.

I saw a saying on a sign that said…”the problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you are finished” Be smart with marketing your business by always doing something! Find what works for you and repeat. Never be afraid to try something new. You are in the IT industry that lives, breathes and eats change every day. Embrace it and you may find your way to more success and hopefully rekindle that exciting entrepreneur spirit.