“Budgets are tight. I had to pull back on my marketing spend and now I have no way to get my brand in front of potential customers.”
At industry shows, networking nights and even the greatest technology events such as IT Nation, I hear this quote over and over again from small-business owners around the country. When your budget is limited, marketing is typically chopped first. Don’t get me wrong, that’s okay. I understand there are other operating costs that need to be taken care of to keep the lights on.
But just because you don’t have a boatload of cash to spend on marketing doesn’t mean your brand has to stay in the shadows. How many times have you heard of a company that started with a garage, an idea and $500 but grew into a household name? Google, Amazon and GeekSquad spring to mind. They didn’t spend $400 of their $500 budget on marketing. Shoot, they probably didn’t even spend a dime, but they found effective ways to get recognition.
At ConnectWise, we constantly provide our partners with marketing enablement tools—check out our Marketing and Sales Toolkit for Technology Providers. Below are a few proven methods that are affordable and easy to implement. Keep in mind, simplicity, mixed with creativity, can take you a long way.
1. Referral, Referral, Referral – Your most powerful lead generation tool is word of mouth. Nothing beats the leads you’ll receive as referrals from existing customers. Create a simple program that empowers and rewards your customers for referring your business to their peers. Make sure to communicate the program so they know these rewards are available to them.
ConnectWise Best Practice – We offer an account credit incentive to existing partners who refer new customers.
2. Networking – Attending local networking events is a great way to meet potential customers. You might not meet anyone who immediately signs on, but your name will be top of mind when they’re looking for services.
ConnectWise Best Practice – We attend a number of trade shows each year that target specific industries. Focus on a few key verticals or industries where you see the greatest potential.
3. Personal Letter – Never underestimate the power of personal correspondence. It’s true that a well-written personal letter carries with it a high degree of believability. Regardless of whether your message is printed or electronic, be sure to include your logo to gain a positive association with your brand.
ConnectWise Best Practice – Encourage your sales team to use standard messaging you’ve approved, but allow for light personalization as needed.
4. Email – You don’t need a fancy service to send out emails. Just send your customers a visually appealing email with a clear, concise message.
ConnectWise Best Practice – Brevity is key. Open and click-through rates are best when the message is tailored to the audience it’s going to and there is a clear call to action.
5. Email Signature – This is a great way to reinforce a message, communicate about a new offer or provide contact information or hours of operation. Many employees like to add images, popular sayings, photos or different colors and fonts to signatures, but this can hurt your brand identity.
ConnectWise Best Practice – Standardize your signature. It’s okay to have a plethora of signatures that promote different services you offer, but make sure the font, logo and color scheme are consistent.
6. Facebook – This is a great way to further a relationship between you and your customers. Plus, it gives your prospective customers another way to find out more about your company.
ConnectWise Best Practice – Offer tips, promote special offers, ask for feedback and post about fun or philanthropic activities your company is involved in. In a level playing field, customers are more likely to select the company that supports a good cause. So if you’re doing something good, post it.
7. Twitter – This remarkable medium is an effective announcement vehicle and a wonderful way to keep your business and its capabilities in front of your prospects.
ConnectWise Best Practice – If you don’t have a Twitter account with a significant number of followers, ask employees who have Twitter accounts to begin tweeting about your business.
8. Blogging – Establish yourself as an expert and show off your technical prowess with a blog. If you’re strapped for time, schedule your employees to write articles. Just make sure that you blog regularly (at least once a week). A neglected blog might send a red flag to potential customers that you’re not on top of things.
ConnectWise Best Practice – We use our internal experts to keep our blogs up to date. This way, the work is spread out over a handful of people and no one feels overwhelmed.
9. Google AdWords Campaign – Advertising on Google can be an easy, low-cost way for you to reach a large amount of potential customers. This tactic is worth considering, especially since you can narrow your advertising efforts to include only your local market and search terms that match your business—such as “IT consulting services” or “outsourced IT.”
ConnectWise Best Practice – We receive a large number of leads as a result of Google AdWords campaigns. Know your audience and what terminology they’ll use to find you.
10. Your Vehicles as Rolling Billboards – Putting a message on company vehicles can be very effective. Just think of how many cars—and people—each one passes in the course of a day.
ConnectWise Best Practice – Keep it clean and simple. The average person will only glance at your vehicle briefly. Include your logo, a strong call to action and contact information.
As you can see, marketing doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. These techniques have worked for others and they can work for you. I referenced it earlier, but if you want more information, click here to download our Sales and Marketing Toolkit. The Toolkit contains five free business resources you can use to get one step closer to success. And don’t forget to Register for IT Nation 2013, the premier industry event for the technology service providers, spots are filling up fast!
Do you have other inexpensive, successful marketing tips that have worked for you? Tell us about them below.
Brian Troy is marketing manager for ConnectWise, the IT business automation software provider. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.