By Robin Robins, President, Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc.
The other day on a group conference call, one of my clients told me they had been doing “my style” of marketing and getting “disappointing” results. When I asked what “disappointing” was, he said, “We have mailed out two series of your 3-step letter campaigns and have only gotten between a 1% and 3% response rate.”
Sheesh…where do I start?
First off, he had only been marketing his business for 3 months. “My style” or not, 3 months is hardly a drop in the marketing bucket. That’s akin to skipping lunch one day and expecting to lose 5 inches off your waistline. Is it enough time to make significant progress? Yes. And had he been proactively marketing to this list over time, building his reputation and relationship with them, AND had an incredible, irresistible, and exciting offer to make, he would have gotten even better results. However, he had NEVER done any type of marketing to position himself and build a reputation for his company. This was a dead, cold start. Plus, he didn’t even know where the list of names came from that he had been mailing, or how tightly qualified it was.
This is the biggest misconception about marketing that computer consulting firms have: Expecting too much too soon.
I’m amazed at the number of people who think they ought to be able to mail a letter or two and get such a huge stampede of new business that it will only take one or two mailings a year to buy a yacht and retire forever.
Of course, I have plenty of clients who have had dramatic results in a very short period of time. BUT, that is not the norm. Building a reputation for your company and securing a position in the marketplace take a lot of time and repetition. This client IS doing the right thing; my only fear is that he gives up too soon thinking he’s not making progress, which he certainly IS.
Second, a 1% to 3% response rate from cold prospects who have no earthly idea who you are in a high transaction service business is not only perfectly acceptable, it’s downright generous. The average client in a computer consulting business could easily be worth $5,000 to $15,000 a year NOT counting referrals. And THAT is only if you do an okay job at servicing them. Mail 700 prospects with a 1% response rate and you get 7 new prospects. If you’re terrible at closing and only get 3 to buy, that’s $15,000 to $45,000 in NEW business from one mailing! Just try to get that type of return from any other investment you are making right now.
Another important lesson here is that the ONLY way to get good at marketing and developing campaigns that actually DO provide an above-average response and return is to do a lot of bad marketing. No one gets behind the wheel of a car the first time in their life and drives like Mario Andretti. If you want to get to the point where client attraction and marketing becomes easy and effortless, you have to constantly work at it; not just when you find the time or get so desperate for sales that you’re paying for groceries on credit cards.
Don’t fall into the trap of giving up when things don’t go perfect, or underestimating the number of campaigns and communications it will take to build your reputation in the marketplace. If you are going to do it, do it right.
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