How A Self-Proclaimed “Crotchety Old Geek” Strives Every Day To Be Better Than Yesterday
My story is a bit different. While I was recently one of five Better Your Best finalists honored to present onstage at Robin’s recent Boot Camp, I’m not about to go on and on about how fantastic I am. Because none of you care what I DID. Rather, you want to relate MY success to what YOU can do to succeed in YOUR business.
But before I do that, a bit of overview. I’ll start with my family. Nineteen years ago, I was a swinging bachelor with two cats. Then I met Julie, who has really lousy taste in husbands, and three daughters. The cats are all dead now, but I got three sons-in-law and six grandkids out of the deal. So, technically I outsourced my family. That’s my experience with mergers and acquisitions.
I started Simplex-IT in 2007. We were an MSP from the start, avoiding the “trading time for money” challenges of the break-fix model. By constantly reinventing ourselves, we have never had a down year (knock on wood). The company has increased revenue each year, always been profitable, and I’ve been fortunate to always provide myself a decent wage. We have always been a bootstrap from a financial standpoint and never dipped into savings or loans.
At first glance, growing our profits 2,100% in one year sounds like a feat worthy of a confetti-filled parade. Look behind the curtain, however, and you’ll see we made a meager $10K in profits for 2017. But that was done on purpose. We actually started 2017 and said, “Screw profits!” Yes, instead of focusing on profits, we spent 2017 focusing on BUILDING. Building the marketing processes, building the sales processes and building the best customer-focused service delivery process. While our 2017 wasn’t Better Your Best-worthy, 2017 was just as important as what we did in 2018. In some ways, even MORE important.
While we weren’t yet hitting the ceiling, we knew the ceiling was fast approaching. Part of our goals for 2018 (and into 2019) was implementing the management framework that will take us from a $2M organization in 2018 to the $5M organization we plan to be in 2024. We are calling this process “Simplex-IT 3.0.”
2 Keys To Making Your Marketing (And Results) Better Than Yesterday
Key #1 To Being Better Than Yesterday: I strongly advise doing as much marketing as you can handle to discover what works for your business and your audience.
Our goal in everything we do is to make small, incremental improvements. That applies to marketing as well. So, you’re going to hear a lot of people say, “Do THIS if you want results.” Or, “Focus on these three things in marketing.” Fact is, I don’t give a damn WHAT you do as long as you do SOMETHING because your learning style is different than everybody else’s. The marketing medium and strategy that moves the needle for you is based on the character of your organization that you developed over the years. Only YOU can decide what that is and how that works.
Key #2 To Being Better Than Yesterday: Consistency is EVERYTHING.
You don’t get to choose when your marketing means something to somebody. THEY do. In order to get your prospects to that place where they say, “Yes, I’m interested,” you must consistently get your marketing, your message and your offer in front of them.
Our Proven Direct Mail System Responsible For $23K In MRR (Please Steal This)
For us, direct mail absolutely works. But we also have a very specific, multi-step system that we have perfected throughout 2018. We do four direct mail campaigns, which equals up to 24 touches in one year for each prospect. Each month, we select, segment and clean a list of 200 names. So, every month, we are starting with a fresh group of 200 targeted prospects.
This is how it looks:
- Month 1: Build List of 200 businesses
- Month 2: Godfather Campaign sent to 200 businesses; follow up with 4-5 calls
- Month 5: Sitting Duck Campaign sent to Godfather “survivors” (usually 120 or so); follow up with 4-5 calls
- Month 8: Aspirin Campaign sent to Sitting Duck “survivors” (usually 90 or so); follow up with 4-5 calls
- Month 13: Bad Date Campaign sent to Aspirin “survivors” (usually 75 or so); follow up with 4-5 calls
See a pattern? Here’s why it works for us and why it might not work for you if you skip these clues:
Clue #1: We start with CLEANED and scrubbed lists. This is Robin’s #1 Commandment of Great Marketing. Do it.
Clue #2: We have MULTIPLE touch points. You can’t simply send one or two campaigns a year and expect results. These prospects must be “touched” MANY times. We touch each prospect up to 24 times, including phone calls, which brings us to our third clue …
Clue #3: You MUST follow up with phone calls. After we mail, we try to call each prospect five times. If you don’t call them, your direct mail WILL NOT WORK. Period.
Utilizing this direct mail system we built, we have successfully closed five agreements worth over $15K in MRR in 2018. Also, we will soon be closing a prospect who will be worth $8K in MRR. It was only after calling him FOUR TIMES after he received the Bad Date Campaign that he finally responded. That’s after receiving the Godfather, Duck and Aspirin campaigns over 12 months. If we had called just one or three times, we would not have that $96,000 a year in revenue! Yes, calling is the key to making these direct mail campaigns work!
FORCE Your Direct Mail Campaigns To Work With These Winning Tips
First, too often I hear excuses from MSPs not doing direct mail. The most common: “I don’t have a list” or “My list is too small.” BS! Just buy a small list, even if it’s just 20 names. Then clean that list. While BUILDING your list is always better than BUYING a list, buying a list is better than not having a list at all.
Second, tweak the sales script, voice mail and printed content. Start with Robin’s content because it’s better than what you would come up with out of the gate. Then, review it with Jeff and Robin. It makes a huge difference.
Third, for the Godfather Campaign, use a dollar coin rather than a dollar bill. It’s rarer and grabs their attention. Fourth, use a dialer. No matter how quick and efficient your callers are, they’ll never beat an automated dialer. Fifth, make your third voice mail direct from the CEO. People tend to listen more when it sounds like the CEO dropped everything to call them.
More Than “Getting Your Name Out There” – Our eNewsletters = $12K MRR
We take great pride in our eNewsletter, which currently goes out to 3,600 prospects and clients. More than “a way to stay top of mind,” our eNewsletter has become a serious sales generator.
When we send the Godfather Campaign to prospects, we often hear them say, “Hey, I’ve been getting your eNewsletter for a year, and now we just received your dollar coin campaign!” By receiving multiple campaigns from us utilizing different marketing mediums, the impression is exponentially greater! In 2018, we closed four agreements just over $12K in MRR with organizations that have been receiving our eNewsletter for years and finally decided to work with us.
We Geek Out With Marketing, Educational And Fundraising Events
Send an e-mail, and it barely registers in your prospect’s mind. Mail one campaign, and they may not pay much attention to it. But when your prospect joins you for lunch, a seminar or a webinar, you hold their mind and heart hostage for a good hour or so. That’s when your business is catapulted to top of their mind, and they’ll remember your business FIRST when they have an IT services need.
Our entire team at Simplex-IT LOVES events. Here are some of our successful marketing events for 2018:
7th Annual Geek Raffle 2018: Our employees go out to ThinkGeek.com and buy a bunch of weird, nerdy stuff. Next, we invite prospects and clients to lunch, where they can purchase raffle tickets to support the Hattie Larlham Foundation to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Simplex-IT then meets or exceeds the money generated in the raffle. This year we raised about $1,000.
Quarterly Trainings (QT): This is new for us and our only customer-focused event, but it’s working really well. We invite our clients (and prospective clients) in and spend an entire day reviewing all of the portals, services and tools that we make available to our customers. If they already have the tools, we give them a refresher course. For those businesses that don’t have these tools, we simply show what the tools can do for them. Upsell opportunities, anyone?
Our first QT was in December. We “sold out” with 13 attendees! This single event led to several no-pressure upsells. Plus, we added considerable value and goodwill throughout our client base!
Dark Web Day: We offered free Dark Web Scans to everyone who attended.
Office 2019 Lunch-and-Learn: At this open-to-the-public event, we reviewed Office 2019 along with the changes in licensing and naming that MS is introducing.
Anniversary Party: At a local video arcade bar, we celebrated with our prospects and clients. About 60 people showed up!
Cyber Security Lunchinar: We had a Lunch-and-Learn that was open to the public, co-presented with Sophos.
IoT Lunchinar: We had an open-to-the-public Lunch-and-Learn about the Internet of Things, co-presented with Amazon.
Webinars: We presented eight webinars throughout 2018 on various topics. In addition, we held two series of six monthly webinars presented to members of two professional organizations as Joint Venture programs.
Trade Show Events: We had booths at three different trade show events. We have several opportunities that are still outstanding, but we did close one agreement worth $4.5K in MRR.
Speaking Engagements: I spoke at about 10 different events. My topic was typically about cyber security.
I Wrote A Book!
Wow, I’m an author … I’m famous! Hardly. Yes, I wrote a book in 2018 titled A CEO’s Survival Guide To Information Technology. You see, ANYONE can do this. YOU can do this. How did you get to where you are? Because you have knowledge. You are an expert at something! So, share what you know with others. Write for your local Chamber. Put up some blog posts. Share an article you think business owners would gain value from.
My Final Few “Better Than Yesterday” Tips
First, if you aren’t looking into Co-Managed IT Services (CoMITs), you really should. You’re essentially selling managed services to organizations that have existing IT services. It’s been a game-changer for us and accounted for about HALF of our new MRR in 2018! And my second book, The MSP’s Survival Guide to Co-Managed IT Services, is due out this month.
Second, Daily Huddles. Do them. Do them now. Unless you’re a one-person shop, in which case it just looks creepy.
Third, Biz With Bob. Every Friday after the daily huddle, I spend five minutes talking about what’s going on within the business. I’m brutally honest. I share the good, the bad and the ugly (if any). I talk about what we need to do and how we need to do it.
I am absolutely blessed to have a great team, starting with my wife, who is one of my trusted advisors. THEY are a big reason why I was able to stand onstage with four other extraordinary business owners and Better Your Best finalists. They are the reason I am able to be Better Than Yesterday.