Without fail, every IT solution provider or managed service provider (MSP) that I spoke to in December said that next year they want to “win more business."
But without a plan to attract new clients, it’s a sure bet that they won’t magically fall into your lap. You need to plan for the activities you will undertake in the year ahead that will win your new clients.
So where should you begin as you plan your marketing strategy for the year ahead?
Take a look back at the past twelve months.
When analyzing new business you’ve won, you should be looking to understand where that business came from. For many, the bulk of new business comes from a referral. That being the case, what are you doing to encourage your clients to refer more business to you? Could you meet with your clients more often to ask for referrals? Indeed, are you actively asking for referrals at all – or just taking a “wait and see” attitude?
A classic example of what didn’t work might be your attendance at business networking events. Lots of companies I know go to breakfast meetings every week. Experience tells me that it typically takes a year to 18 months before you start seeing business come from networking – but before then, you should at least be making some good contacts who you share something in common with. Perhaps they are a Strategic Alliance partner, or perhaps they offer a peripheral service to your own. Either way, they should be valuable.
If you look back at your business networking and realize you have been turning up every week for a nice chat and to discuss the latest sports news… then it might be time to make a decision and look for a different group to attend.
We’ve all done it. We know that Telemarketing works, but we don’t enjoy doing it, so… we don’t do it.
Likewise Direct Mail, Social Media and e-Newsletters. We understand they are a valuable part of the picture when it comes to attracting new clients, but we kid ourselves that we’re too busy to do it.
Next year, get serious. Commit to consistently taking the activities that are needed to generate the results you want.
Want to be meeting four new prospective clients a month? How many telemarketing calls will it, on average, take to generate an appointment each week. Let’s say it’s 100. So for four new appointments a month you need to be making 400 calls a month. Consistently make those calls and the law of averages says you’ll get the appointments.
The important piece here is measuring your activities. One of my mentors taught me the phrase “What can be measured can be managed."
Avoid “gut feelings” and guestimates when it comes to what marketing you are doing. Consistently measure the marketing activities you are taking so that you know, in black and white, whether you’re doing what needs to be done, or whether you’re avoiding it.
If you consistently *aren’t* doing the activities that you need to, then it may be time to try a different approach and outsource the work to a third party.
There are a plethora of good telemarketing, direct marketing and social media companies out there. It’ll cost you, but that’s the price you pay for not doing the work yourself.
Of course, you can choose to not outsource and tell yourself that you’ll get around to doing the work – even if your management statistics show you haven’t previously – but chances are you’ll be looking back in another year still be no further forward.
Setting a marketing plan for the year ahead is an important part of growing your MSP business.
Without a plan, at best you’ll be dragged from pillar to post, and at worse, you’ll be frozen by indecision and do nothing.
Without measuring, you’ll only ever have a “gut feeling” over whether you’re succeeding or not. Measuring your activities as you go along allows you to take a logical view of what you’re doing, and what you’re not doing, what is working, and what is not working.
Make the next year a great one!