In this article, you will find information to help you understand five different passive marketing techniques, 3 direct marketing techniques, how to create a compelling marketing message for your services, and how to source a direct marketing list. This information will enable you to create a marketing campaign whose outcome can be measured.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is all activity that is conducted prior to the sales appointment to reach and interest prospects and includes messaging that prepares prospects for the sales process. This is known as lead generation. Well-known forms of marketing activity include:
- Direct-mail letters
- Direct-mail postcards
- Print advertising
- Internet marketing
- Email marketing
- Radio advertising
Forms of Marketing
Vertical-specific marketing allows the service provider to leverage their past experience and client testimonials to market their services to prospects in the same vertical market. This effective form of specialized marketing allows the service provider to reach and maximize profitability quickly, as they do not have to spend an inordinate amount of time learning their new clients’ environments, workflows, processes and pain points, since they are more than likely already familiar with them.
Choosing a Vertical Market
The first step in vertical-specific marketing is choosing your vertical. In order to maximize customer satisfaction and profitability, the service provider should select a vertical that they are already intimately familiar with and currently service clients in. In addition, the chosen vertical should meet the following requirements:
- Contains numerous prospects within the chosen service area
- Has sufficient desktop and server counts to meet minimum revenue requirements
- Can afford to pay for services
- Pain points allow the ability to create compelling messaging to
- Strong existing client testimonials can be leveraged in marketing efforts
- An affordable, long-term marketing effort can be maintained
- An equitable and timely return on marketing investments can be realized
Vertical Market Requirements
The Marketing List
In many cases, the success or failure of a marketing-list driven marketing campaign can be attributed to the quality of the list itself. It is imperative to obtain a fresh, updated and accurate marketing list that is filtered by specific criteria in order to avoid wasting printing, postage and labor on inaccurate or stale data. The service provider will need to work with a List Broker in order to obtain a good quality list, which will be filtered to provide the following data:
- Vertical market
- Geographic territory
- Number of desktops
- Gross yearly revenue
- Years in business
- Contact person, information and email address
Marketing List Criteria
The service provider will provide the List Broker with their requirements for each of these criteria, and the List Broker will inform the service provider how many unique records meet these filtering requirements, along with a cost per record.
The Marketing Message
Once the service provider has acquired their marketing list, they will next need to determine their marketing message, based upon the pain points they will be able to exploit for their target vertical. In order for the service provider’s message to be effective, it must contain the following elements:
- A description of the vertical’s pain points
- An emotional message in query form
- A client testimonial
- A call to action
In addition to elements to include in the marketing message, there are also items that should never be part of a compelling marketing message. These items include:
- Technical specifications
- Industry jargon
In order to maximize success, an effective marketing message must identify the prospect’s pain points in a manner that evokes emotion and illustrate how the service provider has alleviated these pains for clients in the same vertical, including a client testimonial and a call to action. All of this must be accomplished without documenting the how, but instead the benefit of the service or solution, and in plain English – the simpler, the better.
Example Marketing Message
The following is an example marketing message promoting services for the legal vertical. The first step is to identify pain points for Attorneys:
- Heavily dependent upon email
- Require remote access to files and email when traveling or during court sessions and trials
- Use specific line of business applications such as Timeslips, Westlawand others, which are challenging to maintain and require numerous regular updates
- Often work late and on weekends in preparation for motions and trials
The next step is to convert these pain points into an emotional message in query form:
“Frustrating email problems got you down? Having trouble getting to critical files in the office when you’re at home or in court? Call us now to find out how we help our Legal clients reduce email downtime, provide secure remote access to critical data when out of the office, and quickly handle Timeslips and Westlaw technical support issues.”
The service provider will now add a short client testimonial or two, then a call to action:
“Call now for a free consultation to find out how we are uniquely qualified to support your Firm and improve your productivity while saving you money”
In order to maximize the results of any successful marketing effort, it is important to carefully consider each and every method of the service provider’s message delivery, and insure that the presentation and delivery of that message is consistent across all mediums. When used properly, a website can be the most cost-effective means of marketing to verticals, providing a vehicle to capture prospects’ contact information, provide relevant marketing material to them, and promote recent newsworthy events. A well-built and easily navigable website will promote trust and confidence to its visitors.
As prospects and clients become more comfortable utilizing the Internet as a research tool, it is becoming more important for service providers to extend their marketing efforts to their websites and presence on the Internet. In order for a website to aid in marketing efforts, it must:
- Be visually appealing
- Be easy to navigate
- Reinforce the service provider’s marketing message
In addition, all of the requirements for a compelling marketing message must adhere to the website as well, along with all of the items that should be left out of the marketing message.
Additionally, a website can be utilized to capture contact information for marketing purposes, by offering a free newsletter subscription, case study or white paper, and reflect client testimonials, further reinforcing the service provider’s marketing message.
White Paper Marketing
White papers are the most popular device used in the industry today to promote products and services, and they help promote the perception of the author or organization as a thought-leader and subject-matter expert in the topic covered. Because of their effectiveness, white papers help generate leads and close sales.
Creating White Papers
White paper creation is straightforward, and involves the following:
- Identify the audience
- Determine the topic
- Create the title – 1 sentence that evokes interest and emotion
- Write the introduction – 1 paragraph that grabs the prospect’s attention and describes the conclusion
- Write a high-level overview of the solution – 1 or 2 paragraphs that provide a non – technical overview of the solution. Include charts, graphs and visual aids to support this section
- Details of the solution – 1 or more paragraphs detailing a slightly more technical overview of the solution, breaking down specific components or processes. Include charts, graphs and visual aids to support this section
- Benefits to the prospect – 1 paragraph extolling the virtues of the solution. Include several client testimonialsin this section for emotional impact and credibility
- Summary section – 1 short paragraph summarizing the points and takeaways to impress upon prospects
- Contact information – how prospects can contact the service provider for more information
The key to creating a compelling white paper is similar to that of a compelling marketing message – it must evoke interest and emotion, and be written to grab the reader’s attention.
Example White Paper
Proactive I.T. Services Save Small and Medium Businesses Thousands of Dollars Yearly and Improve Service Response Time
Every dollar a small business spends needs to have an immediate and quantifiable return. This is especially true for critical services such as I.T. support. If you are one of the millions of small businesses that depend upon your technology to keep your business running, proactive Managed Services will save you money, improve your efficiencies and reduce your downtime.
With the advent of new monitoring tools and the ability to remotely deliver help desk services to small businesses all over the world, Managed I.T. Service Providers have developed proactive maintenance plans for their clients that maximize their uptime and reduce I.T. costs over time. By implementing newly available automated processes, systems can be patched and updated overnight without the need for onsite visits, or disrupting an organization’s work day.
In addition, remote help desk tools and technology allow Managed I.T. Service Providers the ability to react immediately and assist users when they experience day-to-day problems, without forcing them to wait for an on-site service call.
Forward-thinking Managed I.T. Service Providers are also implementing proactive remote Network Monitoring tools and services, which evaluate the performance of systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and alert these Service Providers of potential issues before they become work-stopping problems for their clients.
Implementing and receiving the benefit of these solutions is painless for the Small Business Owner, as Managed I.T. Service Providers can begin delivering these cost-saving and efficiency-improving services soon after deploying specialized software agents on all managed equipment. These agents report device health, service pack and operating system, anti-virus and anti-spyware update information back to the Managed I.T. Service Provider’s monitoring systems, allowing real-time analysis and proactive management to occur.
Specialized software applications installed at the Managed I.T. Service Provider’s location also track all problems reported by their monitoring systems and end-users, and are used to document all steps initiated for resolution. These applications provide a ready knowledge-base of information which grows over time, allowing swift resolution for issues that have been previously documented.
“Our firm cannot speak highly enough about the response times and the excellent service we receive from PartnerX. We’ve had computer outages, bugs, surges, etc. (like any network system) and often times I’ll get a call from PartnerX BEFORE I get a chance to call them and report the problem” “The most impressive thing about our relationship with PartnerX is … we have contracted with an IT service provider that truly cares about our business”.
ClientXContactName, CleintXContactTitle, ClientX
Benefits from Managed I.T. Services enjoyed by Small Business Owners are many, and include increased operational efficiency, the ability to reduce and control their operating costs and gain access to Enterprise-level support. In addition, these Small Business Owners are now able to focus on running their businesses, and not their networks, and receive the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge their networks are being monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information on how your organization can benefit from Managed I.T. Services, please contact:
Service Provider Name
Service Provider Company
Service Provider Address
Service Provider City, State, Zip Code
Service Provider Phone Number
Service Provider Website
Service Provider Email Address
Case Study Marketing
Utilizing case studies is one of the most compelling and effective means of marketing a product or service, as a well-designed case study:
- Provides a real-life story prospects can identify with
- Helps generate leads and close sales – adds credibility to services and solutions
- Identifies specific problems or pains a client experienced
- Describes what the service provider did to address these issues
- Highlights results and benefits to the client of the services provided
An effective case study identifies specific problems or pain points the client experienced, what the service provider did to address the problems and pain points, then highlights the results and benefits to the client of the services provided to them by the service provider.
Creating Case Studies
As with all effective marketing vehicles, case studies must be written to evoke emotion. An effective case study must elicit the appropriate reaction in prospects – they need to be able to identify with the scenario documented in the case study, and relate to it. If the prospect reads the case study, but cannot relate to the scenario depicted therein, a viable marketing opportunity is lost, which may be difficult to regain.
Case studies also need to be specific in nature, rather than vague – the more specific they are about the problem, solution and positive results, the more effective the case studies will be. In fact, it is a better idea to focus a case study on how one single problem was solved for a client, rather than try to cover numerous issues in the case study. It is also important to illustrate measurable results, if possible:
The problem: Spam
“…reduced spam by 93%, immediately improving productivity by saving 20 users an average of 2 hours per week each from manually managing spam in their email inboxes…”
From a marketing perspective, fewer words and more visuals are always a plus. For instance, for an anti-spam solution case study, cutting and pasting a graphic from the spam solution’s reporting database, illustrating a week’s worth of statistics into the case study would strengthen the message.
Things to highlight in a case study
- Cost Savings
- Productivity and efficiency improvements
In addition to all of the above, choosing an eye-catching name for the case study is critical, which highlights the service provider’s company name and the positive results of the case study in the name:
“How Service Provider’s Company saved ClientX over $30,000 a year by reducing Spam” (40 hrs per week savings x 52 x $15/hr)
The final component to the case study are the client testimonials. The service provider will ask their happy client to describe in their own words:
- What their situation was before the solution, and the pains they suffered
- Their impression of us during and after our meeting to discuss their needs
- Their feedback on the benefits of the solution after experiencing it for a period of time
- A glowing testimonialabout our organization\
The case study should be no longer than two or three pages, is straightforward, and involves the following:
- Title – 1 sentence
- Subtitle – 1 supporting sentence
- Client problem, pain or challenge – 1 or more bullet points
- Solution – 1 bullet point
- Results – 1 or more bullet points
- Client company description – short paragraph
- Client description of their situation before the solution – short statement in quotes, in client’s own words
- Service provider’s company description – short paragraph selling the company with a quick elevator pitch, beginning with: ClientX soon found Service Provider’s Company, an experienced I.T. Consulting Firm….etc.
- Client description of their impression of service provider during the discovery meeting – short statement in quotes, in client’s own words
- Description of solution – short paragraph
- Client description of the benefits of the solution – short statement in quotes, in client’s own words
- Short paragraph expanding on client’s statement of benefits – short paragraph
- Client testimonialabout service provider’s organization and service – – short statement in quotes, in client’s own words
Remember to insert a visual element if appropriate – a graphic, table or chart.
Example Case Study
PartnerX Reduces IT Costs at the Law Offices of ClientX By $10,000 Per Year
IT Professionals Replace Existing IT Company and Provide Enterprise-Level Services and Solutions
- Needed an alternative to their existing IT Service Provider
- Wanted to reduce costs
- Required First-Class support for 75 users and a 7 server environment
- Routine maintenance and support has been flawless
- Received an excellent return on investment
- Gained a broader knowledgebase of support and solutions
ClientX is a 75-person law firm specializing in personal injury. Business was good, and when their existing IT Service Provider’s Primary Consultant left, the firm felt it was time to make a change.
“Unfortunately, the primary person at that IT company left the business and we felt it was a good time to consider alternative solutions”, recalls ClientXContactTitle ClientXContactName.
ClientX soon found PartnerX, a Microsoft Certified Partner and Small Business Specialist, who pride themselves in being much more than a reactive, “break-fix” repair shop. PartnerX’s proactive, consultative approach to providing service and solutions to their Clients is focused on reducing costs, improving efficiencies and mitigating business pain and risk.
“Since employing PartnerX, we have been able to reduce our IT support payments, but we feel we have gained a broader knowledge base”, says ClientXContactLastName.
PartnerX’s consultative approach to reducing IT costs, improving efficiencies and mitigating business pain and risk for their clients redefined ClientX’s confidence in their Service Provider.
“Our old IT company had individuals who were knowledgeable about specific subjects, whereas each of PartnerX’s engineers I have met to date seem to have an all-inclusive knowledge of…. the functions of our network”, states ClientXContactLastName. “I feel that we have had an excellent return on investment”.
PartnerX offers services including a professionally-staffed help desk to handle all daily issues that their clients’ staff may experience, as well as Vendor Management services, which free staff to focus on their primary duties and responsibilities, along with round the clock Network Monitoring, to insure immediate response in addressing issues before they affect productivity.
“Our firm cannot speak highly enough about the response times and the excellent service we receive from PartnerX. We’ve had computer outages, bugs, surges, etc. (like any network system) and often times I’ll get a call from PartnerX BEFORE I get a chance to call them and report the problem”, states ClientXContactLastName. “The most impressive thing about our relationship with PartnerX is … we have contracted with an IT service provider that truly cares about our business”.
Benefits of utilizing Managed Services Agreements
The act of developing a Managed Services Agreement is often the first step taken by service providers in preparation for delivering services for a new prospect. Reasons for this include:
- Identifies what hardware, users, vendors and services are covered, as well as which are not
- Clearly documents the client’s as well as the service provider’s roles and responsibilities
- Accurately represents the client’s existing environment
- Defines environmental pre-requisites for service
- Establishes a baseline environment
- Creates a framework to insure the service provider’s profitability
A Managed Services Agreement is valuable to the customer as well, as it will:
- Provide the customer the comfort level required to engage with the solution provider through documentation of the deliverable as well as SLA
- Document in a clear and easy to understand manner the service provider’s services and how they are delivered
A properly prepared Managed Services Agreement will:
- Document each party’s responsibilities
- Establish the entire service agreement between the parties
- Protect both parties
- Set appropriate expectations among all parties
- Insure profitability for the service provider
- Provide the client an SLA for services
- Become an instrument to measure performance and customer satisfaction by
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