Marketing can seem like a total pain—why can’t work just land in your lap instead? Like it or not, marketing can help you find more work and allow you to expand your business. While it may seem like a chore, there are a few easy tactics that can yield great results with minimal—or at least reasonable—effort. Work won’t exactly land in your lap, but these tactics are about as simple as they come.
Do Some Networking (Online or Off)
Networking can be an easy way to find new business. Maybe you’re attending local trade group or chamber of commerce events. Or you’re going the digital route and making connections on sites like LinkedIn. Either way, there are plenty of connections to be made. Take some time to identify local trade groups and start making an appearance. Connecting with the right people can help you see plenty of new business down the road. Many IT industry groups can also help you develop as a business professional as well. ASCII Group and Trust X Alliance are just a couple of the many groups dedicated to connecting IT business owners and other professionals so they can learn and grow their businesses together.
Harness the Power of Referrals
Nobody wants to beg for referrals, but most businesses can’t live without them. To get referrals, you’ll have to earn them. Only by doing great work will your clients be ready to refer you to others. Outside of that, simply mentioning to your clients that you love referrals and would be happy to help their friends or business partners is a great way to keep your business top of mind. The real estate does a particularly great job of this. If you’ve worked with a realtor, you may notice they consistently mention to you that they’re never too busy for referrals, and some even have that printed on their business cards, which is something you can emulate easily. You can even promote a referral program to your clients and let them know you’ll be happy to reward them (e.g., with a gift card, a discount on services, a cool tablet, etc.) when their referrals become new clients of yours.
Build a Lead List
Creating a solid database of leads is a basic marketing necessity. By regularly engaging with leads, you’ll be top of mind for prospects when a day comes that they need IT services. A few ways to build a lead list include attending events, taking advantage of vendor lead sharing programs, content marketing, and more.
Market to Your List
Having a list is one thing, but keeping that list engaged is another. Email campaigns and even direct mail are great ways to put your offering in front of prospects, but be mindful how you reach out—nobody wants to constantly get hit over the head with promotional emails. Make sure your messages provide helpful information before you start pitching services. Even if prospects don’t need your services today, they’ll know who to go to when they do, just so long as you continue to provide helpful resources.
Use Direct Mail
Although it may sound old school in our digital world, direct mail advertising does still work. Some studies report that direct mail can be up to 600 percent more effective than digital channels like email. Putting the right information in the right person’s hands at just the right time can result in that awesome new client. Choose from dozens of direct mail providers that can help you with everything from designing a mailer to determining which local businesses to target. Try a local Google search for a print shop in your area, or try Modern Postcard or Vista Print for easy online service.
After you send the mailer out, the big question is: how do you know it’s working? One way to find out is to create and use a campaign-specific URL for your landing page on the flyer. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can see how many page views your mailer managed to send to the landing page. If you’re using tools for capturing leads on your site, you can see how many filled out a contact form. Another way is to include your phone number on anything you mail out. Then, if someone calls looking for services, just ask them how they found out about you.
Where Should You Start?
Some small IT firms get plenty of new prospects by networking and promoting a referral program. Others might take advantage of everything on this list (and much more) to maximize their potential. What you ultimately use as your strategy is a function of your budget, your available time, and your skill set. Some folks love networking, while others loathe it. Some are excellent at finding prospects online; some would rather send physical mailers to local businesses. Whatever the case, marketing is a science, but one that requires patience and practice, and you better prepare yourself for some trial and error. You may find some tactics work for you better than others. The best way to find out what gives you the greatest return is to start using more marketing tactics to develop new business, and fine-tune and assess effectiveness as you go.