The IT Marketing Crash Course

Written by Raj Khera
Request a Demo

Chapter 4: Marketing Campaign

Connecting with Your Potential Clients' Hot Buttons

Having your elevator pitch is important. It has to be used appropriately. Talking about yourself too much when you meet someone new is not a good idea. It can be a turn off and you could lose their attention forever. You have to fine-tune your IT marketing campaign.

The skill of knowing what to say and when to say is not hard to develop. I've found these three steps to work well:

  1. Overcome the desire to talk about yourself.
  2. Get others to talk about themselves.
  3. Listen for the types of comments they are making. It will tell you what stage of the buying process they are in.

Every buyer goes through three different stages in their buying cycle:

  • Awareness of the problem
  • Research to find options for solutions
  • Decision on which solution to use

Similarly, you have three stages of buyers:

  • Prospect
  • Lead
  • Opportunity

At each stage, a potential buyer of your services has different questions and therefore your MSP marketing campaign to each will be different. Ask yourself what those questions are and what business needs the person is trying to address at that stage of awareness. The value of exploring the thought process of each stage is that it allows you to be prepared with a set of appropriate responses. Instead of jumping into a sales pitch designed to close a deal, you would be able to filter out that a person isn't mentally ready to make a commitment yet and your line of questions can help guide them down the path to your solution. Your questions will be different for each customer profile.

For example, Ed Mana of Technology on Demand, who targets his managed services to audio-visual companies, might find that his buyer persona would ask the following questions:

Prospect stage

  • How do I manage my email and office documents?
  • How can I manage my billing more efficiently?
  • How can I track all of my assets?
  • Who in my organization would be responsible for managing this?

Lead stage

  • How do I make sure that I don't lose my data in the event of a natural disaster?
  • How do I keep my data secure?
  • Should I hire a person to do this in-house or outsource it to another company?
  • What's all this talk about "cloud" stuff?
  • What skills do I need to look for in a person or company that could do this?
  • What should I expect to see in a service level agreement (SLA)?

Opportunity stage

  • Which companies provide these services?
  • What exactly will they do? What are the deliverables?
  • What is my role? My company's role?
  • What is the investment? The return on investment?
  • What are the contract terms? The response time and SLA?

These questions will help you hone the different campaigns that would interest a buyer.

Marketing Campaign: Sales vs. Educational Campaigning

As you read this guide, you will notice an emphasis on educating prospects and how education is very different from selling.

Sales messaging includes the traditional IT marketing language of features, benefits, and pricing. This type of messaging can turn off a prospect if he feels threatened, doesn't understand the value of what you are offering, or simply isn't ready to make a purchase just yet.

Educational messaging, on the other hand, teaches your prospect how to do something better. If you offer search engine optimization (SEO) services, you can teach prospects how to find the best keywords for their industry. If you sell accounting software, you can educate prospects on compliance issues.

Sales messaging says, "Buy my products or services because I am the best."

Educational messaging says, "Let me show you how to solve your business problems."

The focus is on the prospect and giving them the resources he needs to run their business better. This type of messaging positions you as an informed, trusted source. It encourages your prospects to turn to you for advice and, when the time is right, your products and services.

If you are unsure about whether your messaging falls into sales territory, imagine that your campaign is an article to be published in a magazine. Ask yourself which section your article would appear under. Would it be under company news, industry trends, or best practices?

If it is company news, then your article is a sales piece. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this — there is a time and place for sales messaging. Just be clear on what type it is because you will use each one differently.

Choosing the Right IT Marketing Campaign

Let's consider the questions posed by the buyer persona, presented in the stages I outlined above. As people move through the buying stages, from the prospect stage to the lead stage to the opportunity stage, your messaging will go from educational to sales.

For example, during the prospect stage, people are seeking information. If you can be the one to provide it, you will establish trust and nurture them along to the next stage.

Using the sample question, "How do I manage my email and office documents?" you can produce an article to educate the person on that very subject. It could be called, "How to Effectively Manage Email and Documents in the Office."

After reading this article, the prospect may be qualified to become a lead because you have piqued his interest by showing how his problem could be solved.

In the lead stage, you are still educating, but you'll want to start nudging the lead towards your services. For the sample question, "How do I make sure that I don't lose my data in the event of a natural disaster?" you could produce an article called, "Checklist for Keeping Your Data Safe During a Natural Disaster."

Now, you are teaching the lead about preparing his data for a natural disaster, but you should also let him know there are specific services available that are designed to assist him every step of the way.

At this point, the lead trusts you even more, and now he is looking for a service to help him with his needs. He has moved into the opportunity stage.

When the lead asks, "Which companies provide these services?" you might hand him a white paper that provides information to consider as he looks for a solution provider. It could include a checklist for what to look for in a provider, what the provider should offer, and what the lead's role will be in the process. At the end of the white paper, you have included your company's contact information so that the lead can get in touch. Again, you have educated the lead, but you are also nudging him further along towards buying.

When you follow up, you can really start focusing on your sales messaging because you have laid the foundation for it. Your lead is open to what you have to say because he sees you as knowledgeable, as someone who cares about his business's success, and as a trusted ally.

As you can see, there are times when educational messaging is beneficial, but there are also times when sales messaging works best. Educational messaging should start early on in your sales process — and continue even after you have acquired the client. Sales messaging should be reserved for the latter buying stages when you have established a position of trust and knowledge.

Checklist: Your Next Steps

  • Take some time to review your company's IT marketing campaign. Does it fall into the educational or the sales category? Get very clear on when you should use each type of campaigning so you do not accidentally start a sales pitch when you should be asking more probing questions.
  • What are your ideal client's needs at the Prospect Stage of the buying process? How can you provide them with the information they are seeking right now?
  • What are your ideal client's needs at the Lead Stage of the buying process? How can you provide them with the resources they need now?
  • What does your ideal client need at the Opportunity Stage of the buying process? How can you provide the information they need to make a buying decision now?
  • Using the examples above as guidelines to write your own elevator speech, including the brief version, and the follow-up details. Edit and refine your speech. Now, practice it until you have it memorized.