If there is one thing I want to make clear when discussing marketing basics, it is to seed, feed, water, nurture…THEN harvest. Bruce McCully is the CEO of Galactic Advisors, both a client and a vendor. I am going to use a card I received from him as an example of how to implement this one single marketing principle and how to start planting the seeds to harvest.
The look of his card (below) he sent me is instructive. It looks a little “homemade,” which is SMART – and you should note this. Many people strive too hard to look “professional,” which strips out all the humanness from the communication. I want to point out that it’s personal, greeting-card size and style, in a hand-addressed envelope. The point I’d like to drive home here is the NURTURING of prospects and clients – essentially “showing some love” and seeding, watering, nurturing the crop BEFORE you go for the full harvest.
There’s no overt solicitation, NO offer, NO push to a website or webinar, NO discount offered, etc. You might think this goes against everything I teach, but it doesn’t. It’s the principle of drip marketing that I direct as one of the four key marketing systems you need by using newsletters, blog posts, videos, direct mail like this and even unexpected gifts (like the ones at Christmas).
Too many people simply want to HARVEST without doing the planting, watering and nurturing first. If you come from hard-core selling or have a SALES culture vs. a MARKETING culture, this is often a tough discipline to master. In general, true sales closers hate nurture and follow-up. They close (or don’t) and move on, which leaves a LOT of waste and a lot of missed opportunity.
Further, prospects buy on their own schedule. Yes, we can do things to accelerate that pace – but you cannot take someone who is simply unwilling to buy RIGHT NOW and strong-arm them into making a decision to sign a contract. Push too hard and you’ll push them away completely – and this goes double for big decisions tied to big amounts of money (like signing a three-year managed IT services contract). When selling IT services (or any significant-sum purchase), being in a hurry is counterproductive. “Buy now” impatience and intolerance for those not yet ready to buy are seen as desperation and even rudeness.
Here are the 2 steps to implement this single marketing principle:
1. Define who you want as a client (your target market or sweet-spot prospect), build a list of those people.
2. Implement a “Plant The Farm” marketing campaign sequence. The reason I recommend this is that if they are new (cold) prospects, you won’t have permission to e-mail them (yet). Therefore, use direct mail, phone, LinkedIn and even canvassing to get the initial correspondence to them.
Those who respond go into your sales pipeline as unconverted leads and are “worked” through your sales process. If they buy, they’re a client, and onboarding starts. If they DON’T buy, or don’t book the appointment, or somehow fall out of your active sales process, they are put into an online and offline drip marketing campaign (water, fertilize, weed, nurture) that is not just about getting them to buy (like the Galactic example above). Then, once every six months, you implement a more aggressive appointment-driving campaign again.
As for those who don’t respond, who are still on your list as a high-probability prospect and meet your criteria for what a good client is, you also put them into an online and offline nurture campaign that reminds them of you, provides something interesting or even just a laugh. By doing this, you’re building familiarity, which also builds TRUST – and a key concept our program is built on is to NOT sell products and services, but instead sell TRUST.
Now, an important point about online lead generation and how it plays into this…
Online marketing, while outstanding in many ways for generating leads, is a lot about impulse “clickbait” designed to get you to take a microstep toward the advertiser. You watch a video, like a post, follow a company, click on an ad – but that doesn’t mean you’re INSTANTLY ready to buy. This is ALL good IF you know how to play the long game of nurturing and repetition to move that prospect from a single click of their thumb to whipping out a credit card to buy (or, in your case, booking an appointment to talk to you about outsourcing their support, or some other high-dollar project, to you).
A problem we see with many MSPs is that they want to do online marketing that brings IMMEDIATE harvest without any seeding and feeding. Because of this, they routinely fail to nurture leads to get them to the point where they WANT to meet with you, essentially giving up waaaay too soon.
A question to ponder: Are you implementing more than just “harvest” campaigns? Could you do a better job at the nurturing of the farm? And more specifically, are there certain groups of clients, partners and prospects for whom this gentler nurture approach may be more appropriate? To be clear, I’ve not gone “soft” and timid. I’m with Zig on the truth that timid salespeople have skinny kids. BUT there certainly IS a smart, strategic play for nurture marketing implemented correctly and well.
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