Growing Up With 15 Siblings,
I Had To Work Hard To Get Noticed
Being the youngest of SIXTEEN kids (I’m the tiny one), I was raised to believe that you get a good education, work at a company for 30 years and then retire. Ever watched the movie Rudy? My dad was Rudy’s dad, believing in working hard but taking zero risks. Me, I guess I’m more like Rudy: Risk everything to make your dream a reality.
Who knew my dream of starting my own IT business would take root in a Bennigan’s restaurant. In 2003, my IBM teammates and I launched the idea of bringing the best practices of the enterprise world of IBM to small business markets. Secure Network Services, Inc., of Lakeland, Florida, was born on a napkin between bites.
How Losing $150,000 A Year Taught Me
The Greatest Business Lesson I Ever Learned
I always had the mindset that you have to build a team consisting of the right people and keep all of your skills, tools and services in-house. By running my IT business with this “total control” philosophy, we were working 80 to 100 hours a week. In 2012, this business approach BACKFIRED when my right-hand man cost us several clients worth $150,000 a year!
Suddenly, it hit me – I needed to focus less on PERSONNEL and more on PROCESS! The key was outsourcing automation. Rather than expect my team to work exhaustively performing IT services MANUALLY, I brought in experts like Continuum. This allowed us to deliver consistent, repeatable and reliable results for our clients through automated tools and processes.
Not only were these processes quick and automated, but because we were utilizing experts, we could provide a greater level of service, charge the same price and save HUNDREDS of man hours. Less Time + Better Service + Higher Profits = Win-Win-Win!
Did I Apply This Winning Approach To Sales And Marketing?
Absolutely! (Just 8 Years Later…)
Even though we were finally figuring out the delivery side of the equation as an MSP, we were still very much missing the boat when it came to growing the business. Sure, we dabbled in marketing, including networking, car wraps, local mailers and reinventing our website every few years. But I can’t think of a single piece of business resulting from those on-and-off marketing efforts. In short, our service delivery rivaled IBM but our marketing rivaled New Coke. We were never going to hit our goal of one million in revenue with random referrals.
I think my perspective changed the day I met Jay Ryerse, 2015’s Better Your Best winner. Jay told me how he took his Atlanta break-fix business from under $200K (much smaller than us) to over $1.5 million in just a couple of years. Almost simultaneously, several of us asked, “What was your secret?” He emphasized that without implementing Robin Robins’ Toolkit, he would probably not be where he was right now.
That’s all I needed to hear. I was ready to attend my first Rapid Implementation Workshop.
Getting My FIRST EVER Marketing Win
In Mere Minutes!
On our first morning of the workshop, we sent Robin’s 9-Word E-mail [Marketing Example #2 on page 9 on the marketing examples found in the brief. Click here to get your free copy.] to 35 leads. I received three responses and soon closed $2K in new MRR! On the surface, this may seem like a small victory. In reality, it was probably the first time in my 17 years in business that I had increased my revenue as a direct result of a marketing action I took. (And it took just a few minutes!)
Targeting The RIGHT Market
For The First Time In 16 Years
For years, our top clients were in the medical space. But at Robin’s Rapid Implementation Workshop, we had an “aha moment” by looking at our client base from a different perspective. Our two largest medical clients were spending $11K a month with us, but we were averaging three to four hours a DAY servicing them! In comparison, our manufacturing co-managed IT client was spending about $16K a month and only requiring ONE to TWO hours of support a WEEK! We were targeting the WRONG market, and we were able to refine our target market accordingly.
Finally Wearing A Marketing Hat
And Putting Plans Into Action
Upon returning from the workshop, I was like a marketing dynamo. First, I signed up for MAP Infusionsoft and got a Done-For-You Sherpa to get everything configured and also to help us better run the campaigns.
Next, we signed up for the Done-For-You Website to get it “Robinized.” We created various landing pages for offerings like the IT Buyer’s Guide and Free Network and Cyber Security Assessments.
During that time, I took steps to make sure our phones were answered LIVE 24/7. We hired NexaSupport to accomplish this important goal. We also signed up with AppointmentCore, which ties seamlessly into Infusionsoft for calendar management.
Launching Our First Direct Mail Campaign
With My New Marketing Coordinator
In January, I brought on a marketing coordinator to work with our Infusionsoft Sherpa and start rolling out campaigns. We also started with Robin’s Done-For-You List Building and Cleaning Service to ensure we were getting qualified lists in our new target market of manufacturers. We even launched our first direct mail campaign, modifying the Stupid/Irresponsible campaign to target CoMITs opportunities.
SHOCKED That Our Shock-And-Awe Box
Brought In 4 NEW Clients For $2,400 In MRR!
I’ll admit, I was reluctant about the Shock-And-Awe box but went ahead and signed up for both the Done-For-You Shock-And-Awe box and the Online Shock-And-Awe presentation. At first, I figured I would only send the box to bigger opportunities. Because I heard prospects RAVE about it, I now ALWAYS send it out.
Pro Tip: I learned that if you send prospects the box FIRST, followed by the online presentation, that pairing DOUBLES the great impression you make. No matter your company size, when prospects receive your box, they THINK you’re a multimillion-dollar business. This single marketing initiative has played a significant role in signing FOUR new clients (sent six, closed four) for $2,400 in MRR!
We FINALLY had our sales and marketing firing on all cylinders just like our service processes, and then…
The “Plague” Hit
And We Lost $180,000 A Year!
We had only mailed our first set of direct mail letters when everything was shut down. We were stuck in “No Man’s Land” and wondering when “normal” days would return. Our initial thought was to pull the plug and cut all expenses, but that didn’t feel right. Instead, we sought wisdom from our Accelerators Club Accountability Group, pivoted to less costly marketing options and started moving again.
As a result of COVID-19, we lost a 15-year client because they were overextended. That single client accounted for $180,000 of our annual revenue. You might think I would be panicking. Instead, I was confident. I knew I had put sales and marketing systems in place over the past nine months that would quickly replace the lost revenue. I was right! Within weeks of losing this major client, we brought in an additional $2,900 in new MRR and had even more potential business from other marketing ventures!
Hitting Our Second Wind
At Our Second Rapid Implementation Workshop
I knew my marketing coordinator would benefit from attending Robin’s Rapid Implementation Workshop. What I didn’t realize was how much NEW information I would learn and what a better understanding of the entire program I would gain by going through the workshop a SECOND time.
As a result of putting out continuous drip marketing, such as weekly Cyber Security Tips, Monthly Blog Post and E-mail Newsletter and Done-For-You Social Media Posts, we have two proposals that will likely become contracts: one for $3,500 in MRR and another for $4,300! Plus, we have run the Closer Look campaign to a secondary market. We’ve booked several appointments as a result!
Extraordinary Results Even In 2020!
Yes, it takes hard work and a lot of effort and investment to develop a successful business. First, I invested in my services and processes. Now, I am investing in my sales and marketing. It’s well worth the investment and effort because qualified clients equal loyal clients. Going through Rapid 32 and Rapid 39 has given me a much better understanding of my MSP business.
As a result of executing marketing initiatives over the past year, we have added $10,500 in new MRR ($126,000 a year), $29,000 in project and onboarding work and $7,800 in new MRR opportunities currently on the table. Our goal for the next year is to take us from $700K to over $1M in revenue, then the sky is the limit from there!