I once had a client who called my office in an absolute fervor over a new money-making idea he wanted to discuss with me. This client was a small, underfunded, two-man shop struggling to sell IT services. BUT – according to him – this idea he had was going to revolutionize the entire IT industry and make him millions — possibly billions- in a few short years. He even wanted me to sign a NDA to ensure I wouldn’t leak the details of his brilliant new idea. What was his invention? A software tool that would allow small IT firms to remote into their clients networks’ and monitor their systems.
Now if you’re thinking, “Well –isn’t that what Kaseya, Level Platforms, Zenith Infotech and a few dozen other companies have already developed?” you would be correct. I told him about these companies and he was stunned; he was completely unaware that anyone had already created this kind of product. I then asked the obvious question, “Didn’t you do any research to see if someone had already developed this?” His reply was, “Yes, but apparently not enough.”
While this seems like an extreme example of stupidity, I assure you I see this all the time with IT business owners who think they have to be creative and come up with a brand-new, never seen before idea to succeed in business. They believe they need something new…something the world has never seen before…in order for it to sell when the exact opposite is true.
One of the things VCs (venture capitalists) look for before investing in a company is proof of concept; they want to know who else has done this successfully, and what’s your competitive advantage going to be (hint: it’s NOT always about the product). Why? Because it’s much safer and smarter to invest into a proven concept than into a brand-new, unproven “big” idea.
Take bottled water as an example. The big beverage companies (Coke, Pepsi, etc.) didn’t even entertain the idea of taking ordinary tap water and packaging it to sell for $3 to $4 a bottle UNTIL a little company called Perrier decided to start peddling its bottled mineral water to the US back in 1976. After they proved there was a market for this type of product, the big guys jumped in with both feet competing to be #1 in the category. But again, they didn’t do this until AFTER it was a proven, money-making idea.
This idea of un-creativity goes double when marketing IT services.
With very little research, many IT business owners set out in hot pursuit to get more clients and think they have to come up with some big, CREATIVE idea to get their message across, attract the attention of more clients or close more sales. This rarely works AND it’s not too smart when you consider that, whatever their situation, you can pretty much bet that someone, somewhere exactly in their same situation has already figure it out.
Top copy writers and marketing consultants understand this completely. None of them ever try to develop a marketing campaign from scratch. Instead, they rely on well-documented “swipe” files of successful campaigns they tweak and reuse. You’ll never see them completely reinvent the wheel because 1) it’s time consuming and 2) the chances of you having a complete flop go up exponentially.
So, here are few tips for being ‘un’creative about making more money and successfully marketing your IT services:
1. Model success. Tony Robbins taught me a long time ago that one of the keys to success is to find someone who is already getting the results you want and simply model what they’re doing. The bank doesn’t give you extra points for working REALLY hard–the money you deposit into your bank account is worth exactly the same regardless of how hard (or easy) it was for you to make it.
2. Get out of your “normal” surroundings. I don’t think it’s possible to find solutions to problems by sitting at home, in your office, talking to the same people. Go to industry events and talk to your peers and vendors, especially in NEW cities. And surfing the web and haunting online groups is NOT the same.
3. Creatively “steal” ideas. Never start with a clean slate. It’s too hard, and way too slow. Keep (or start) a swipe file of great marketing campaigns and/or business ideas and don’t limit yourself just to the IT industry. Some of the biggest breakthroughs come from being able to look at what others are doing and figure out how you can use that in your business.