When Marketing Makes Sense

Author: Kayla Sanderson, channel marketing manager, AppRiver, a Zix company.

Picture this scenario: You’re talking to a business owner about a setting up a mail exchange server or layering security around their company’s inboxes. You apply your years of experience and technical training to provide the best solution that you know will work, and you send over a quote for your services. When they see the quote, they balk at the price and question the value, asking whether they really need what you suggested. They say they the kid next door who plays a lot of computer games recommended a spam blocker and offered to install it for 10x less than your quote. They’re thinking about going with them. The idea sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? 

Imagine how marketing experts feel when IT business owners believe that the craft they’ve spent their entire adult life studying doesn’t have any value. 

Marketing is just as complex as IT Yet, many MSP owners want marketing that costs less than a dinner for two every month, then complain when it doesn’t generate new leads to grow their business. Those $100/month marketing programs are the equivalent of the kid next door fixing a laptop or setting up a spam blocker. Probably better than nothing, but nowhere near the solution you actually need.  

Small business owners show us what is important to them by the way they invest their limited dollars.  A company that pays the college kid next door to build their network doesn’t see value in technology, and the MSP that buys a one-size-fits-all marketing kit doesn’t see value in marketing.  No matter what they are saying with words, their dollars show us what they value.

Most IT companies start with one technical owner who manages the needs of a handful of small business clients. They grow their company organically through partner referrals and word of mouth.  This is the right way to grow a small business, but it is not a permanent marketing solution!

Referrals are a compliment, but they aren’t a long-term business development strategy.  Eventually, referrals stop coming in consistently, and word of mouth doesn’t feed a large company with a growing payroll obligation.  You’ll need more and more opportunities to present your services to interested prospects, and you’ll then start looking at ways to find new leads.  Like it or not, you’re about to enter the world of marketing, and your first steps are going to be essential to the continued success of your business.

“I can’t afford that!”

How many times have you shaken your head after a small business owner declined what was, in your opinion, a very realistic and competitive quote for your services? How often have you removed essential security services from your quotes to accommodate the budget of a prospect? It likely happens fairly often. Marketing companies feel the same way when you believe that a $5000 service “should” cost $500.  You end up with a bare-bones solution that removes everything you really need for effective marketing. 

It’s very important to note that bad marketing isn’t “better than nothing.”  Bad marketing can destroy your business reputation. If you can’t afford to buy marketing support, it’s better to take some free marketing classes and learn the basics yourself.  

Remember, you likely hired your junior techs and trained them on how to troubleshoot networks.  Marketing agencies hire people with no experience and teach them how to do marketing. You’re not any less capable of learning how to follow a basic marketing standard operating procedure.  

Where Do I Start?

  • Step 1: Start with a Google search. There are dozens of free courses and classes available to you online.  You can even search for terms that are very specific like “how do I build an email marketing campaign” or “how often should I post on social media.” 
  • Step 2: Talk to your peers.  Most of them, when not competing with you, will be happy to share what they did that worked for them, and more importantly, what they did that doesn’t work for them.
  • Step 3: Sign up for some email newsletters. Answer some cold sales calls when your phone rings. Figure out what looks good, and what sounds good. You’re also a small business owner, so what catches your attention? How did you choose your last vendor? What did you like about their process? You can use that to start building your approach to other small business owners.

Track, Measure, Repeat

If you’re trying to build effective marketing campaigns, it will be important for you to know what things work, and what things don’t. If you mail 100 letters, how many return calls do you get? If you mail 100 letters, then call those 100 people, do you get better results? How much better?  What if you call those people twice?  Do your results improve?  If you don’t track and measure, it’ll be hard to know what’s working, you will never know where you can apply more resources.  

Remember – marketing isn’t simple.  If it was, we’d all be experts at it already. Whether you end up training yourself to be a marketer or you end up hiring an expert, investing in proper marketing strategy for your company will help you continue your company’s growth. 

This guest blog is courtesy of Zix|AppRiver, and authored by Kayla Sanderson, channel marketing manager. Read more Zix|AppRiver guest blogs hereRegularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.

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