"The key to making money is to stay invested." — Suzi Orman
Do you want to grow beyond $1 million in sales, $2 million, $5 million? Think big and big things will happen. Think small and you will stay small.
As a small business owner, you watch every penny. I remember when I was first starting out, even as sales ramped up, I would watch every penny and try to avoid spending anything on IT marketing. In the time vs. money equation, I felt my time was cheaper.
I had small sales, so I was reluctant to invest much on anything and relied mostly on word-of-mouth to grow my company. I viewed any cash that went out of the business as an expense, not as an investment.
The result: continued small sales.
I realized I could only grow so much. Word-of-mouth is not a scalable IT marketing strategy. It is a limiting strategy. I would invest my hard earned cash into stocks and mutual funds thinking those were the right investments to make, even though some of them lost money.
What I didn't take into account was that other people controlled those companies that I was investing in. I didn't have any control over whether they succeeded or not. It was a gamble. Ironically, I had 100% control over my own company and did not invest a lot of my own cash in it.
So, I changed the way I thought about IT marketing and started looking at options to accelerate growth. The only way to do it was to invest cash for marketing and sales into my own business.
Marketing is an investment, not an expense.
What I'm asking of you is to start by making sure you allocate IT marketing dollars to invest. Set aside an annual budget, whether it's $2k, $5k, $10k, $50k — whatever. Just make sure that number isn't zero. Even in 1 or 2 person companies, it should be at least $200–300/month if you want to start to grow beyond word-of-mouth.
You can make tremendous strides in lead generation and winning new customers by following the strategies I outlined in this book.
Notice that I did not go into options like trade shows, paid advertising or other high dollar investments. Those are good strategies to explore if you have the budget, especially trade shows — they reach a large number of focused prospects at once.
For this book, I focused primarily on ways for smaller companies, ones with limited budgets, to get the most bang for their buck.
What do all of the activities outlined in this book cost?
Here is a sample budget on what you should expect to spend.
Estimated starter marketing budget: $2,000 – $5,000/year (if your annual sales are under $250,000)
Estimated moderate marketing budget: $4,000 – $20,000/year (if your annual sales are $250,000 – $750,000)
Estimated growth-oriented marketing budget: $10,000+/year (for every $750,000 to $1 million in annual revenue)
These numbers are very general ballparks to give you a sense of what you should consider investing in MSP marketing. Typically, the more you invest in the right forms of marketing, the more awareness you will generate about your company and the more sales you will close.
The core of a small business marketing budget should be educational articles. You can repurpose these in numerous ways with minimal additional effort to access a broader audience. Some prospects will find you from your blog posts, others from your newsletter, yet others from the slide deck you posted as a YouTube video.
Everyone searches for and prefers information in different mediums. With a relatively small investment in reaching prospects in their preferred medium, you easily exceed what word-of-mouth IT marketing will ever do for you.
As you grow, you may find a need to have more staff to support additional efforts. Consider exhibiting at trade shows that your buyer persona would attend. Online advertising, such as Google AdWords or Bing/Yahoo pay per click (PPC), is also worth exploring — set aside a $2500+ per month budget for drumming up qualified leads plus more for testing and refining your campaign.
Ads can be directed to landing pages on your website that give away a white paper or eBook in exchange for the prospect's contact information. This will build your email list, giving you the opportunity to nurture and close deals with many companies at once.
Be aware that not every dollar you invest will yield positive results. That's the nature of growing a business.
Don't let a poor return on investment in one area deter you from refining your approach. Stick with it. There is no point starting an MSP marketing initiative only to abandon it after a few months. That's just a waste of money no matter which way you slice it.
Remember, it can take seven contacts or more with a new prospect before they start to recognize your name let alone consider buying something from you. Your newsletter, blog and other content can take a few months or longer to get indexed by Google and your chances of higher ranking go up as you increase your frequency of publishing quality information.
Investing in a focused IT marketing strategy that centers around the client and refining the bumps as you see the results will give you a clear advantage over your competitors. Why? Because most of them spend their time and money selling, not educating. You can differentiate yourself with your investment: focus on educating and prospects will start to sell themselves.
If you would like to implement a solid IT marketing campaign to grow your business, consider outsourcing your marketing to Presstacular. Packages start at just $199/month, ideal for small companies who want a marketing department without the high cost of hiring and managing staff. Request a demo today!