Finding and converting new clients is a challenge for many MSPs, VARs, and ISVs. Some are flat out bad at it. Maybe their idea of lead generation is to hand out a couple of business cards, throw up a “Contact Us” page, cross their fingers, and hope the referrals keep rolling in. Some vendors are able to eat well some months after their launch. But when the buzz fades and the initial hype is no longer bringing customers to the door, they find themselves desperately seeking answers.
While I’m no marketing guru by any means, I firmly believe that the Internet is the greatest marketing tool on the planet. Dare I say pound for pound more effective than word of mouth … With the aid of some tried and true online resources, even the most promotionally challenged IT people can maintain a steady flow of qualified prospects.
Set Some Lead Generation Goals
Of course you want more leads. They’re the ticket to clients and at the end of the day, more clients mean more money in your pockets. But how many leads do you need to operate efficiently and how many can you pull in? Like, realistically? Before even heading out on this mission you need to draw up a game plan that outlines a course of action for some specific lead generation goals. You can start by identifying a desired amount of monthly recurring revenue and determine a number of prospects based on that number. From there, you’re ready to pull the trigger on some lead generation strategies.
Build a Great List
This one applies to companies of all sizes. Don’t even think about trying to score leads without a rock-solid list behind you. That list is gonna keep you in touch with the most valuable players in your network and help you forge prosperous relationships over time. Driven by email, a list is the vehicle that can deliver a monthly newsletter, product updates, or generous discounts on your services right to clients and prospects. Simply being a subscriber is a luxury in and of itself. Sell that aspect and a list instantly becomes potently golden.
Building a list is a time consuming process. Once you realize this, you may be tempted to buy one online. Think long and hard before you drop down that cash. Buying a list may get you those precious email addresses, but in most cases it won’t get you the responsive audience your business is after. A safer bet is building an organic list made of people who belong on it – people who actually want to hear from you. Get them to opt-in, provide an easy way opt-out, but keep them engaged, and you can keep that dirty word “spam” away from your marketing campaign.
Get Good at Social Media “Networking”
Social media is a vibrant platform that can set you up with recurring referrals around the clock. The social trend is at a point where companies can literally use it as an extension of their existing operations. For instance, a smaller MSP with limited in-house personnel can use outlets like Twitter and Linkedin as an additional means of customer service and technical support. That’s a plus right off the bat for people who loath waiting on call-backs or email responses. These intimate interactions essentially put a face on the company and show the customer a human side.
The thing about social media is that it’s way too easy to jump on the bandwagon and go nowhere at all. You build up this big bad network only to never do anything with it. Social networking requires a carefully laid plan and even better execution. Reach out to those connections and try to help them without always trying to sell to them. Build a rep as the “go-to guys” of that particular field, and leads will flock your way for information and solutions to their IT problems.
Make Webinars Routine
Surely you’ve sat in on a few webinars by now. Have you ever thought about holding a few of your own? If not, I’ll have you know doing so is a great way to attract qualified leads. Webinars are phenomenal lead generation tools for a number reasons. Let’s see, they
- Are easy and affordable to put together
- Make great networking tools
- Establish instant credibility and authority
- Help boost brand awareness
- Allow you to better know your audience and their needs
Like it’s real-world counterpart the seminar, a webinar aims to deliver valuable content to an audience hungry for information. You’re just doing the serving in a much more convenient format. And all you’re asking for in exchange are names, email addresses, job titles, and whatever other tidbits you require for lead qualifying. Host it live with an inexpensive webinar platform, record it, upload it to YouTube, and sit back while your presentation reels in leads that blow the initial attendance numbers out the water.
Grasp the Value of Referrals
Referrals are word of mouth at its finest. They are especially useful to smaller businesses that can’t afford to cash out on lavish advertising campaigns. Referrals can literally carry your marketing efforts and it’s possible to keep them rotating like clockwork. Getting those friendly endorsements is important enough to warrant its own little program. A referral system, if you will.
Some clients are so stoked about your service and how they benefit that they take initiative to refer you to friends and associates. That’s great, but if you’re really in it to win, get a jump on getting the word out. Ask clients to help spread the word and let them know those efforts are appreciated however you show it. Existing customers are your best advocates, so single out your true brand evangelists and factor them into your lead generation strategy.
One thing you’ll learn quickly is that there is no one right way to approach marketing. You have to do a little of everything, especially when lead generation is on the table. In between tinkering with proven tactics and experimenting with emerging trends, you’ll find what works and be amazed at the results of your efforts – if you put in the work!