Technology Marketing Tool Kit

Posted by Robin Robins On September 2nd, 2009

Powerful Field-Tested Marketing Strategies To Generate More Sales Opportunities, Close More Business, And Make More Money In Your Technology Service Business.

Old, dumb joke: In Arkansas, what does a tornado and a divorce have in common? Somebody’s about to lose a mobile home.

So what does the recent outbreak of Hurricanes in Florida have to do with marketing? Somebody’s about to make some money. CafePress.com has created an entire line of “Hunker Down” t-shirts playing on the recent outbreak of Florida hurricanes. They even went so far as to have one available for your pooch.

Marketing Example #1 is another web site I found promoting home generators for Florida residents. It’s a decent sales letter and I applaud the strategy of tying in current events to promote products. I also received a letter from Logical Business Solutions, a VAR in Florida, that included sell your customers some type of maintenance or network protection plan, you get a double strike: one for not using it as an opportunity to make money and two, for not using it as an opportunity to drive home the importance of network protection and disaster recovery to your clients.

If not scared into doing something, many of your clients will continue doing business as usual and find out the hard way how important it is to protect your company’s data from viruses, loss, or natural disasters. At that point they will be WISHING that you had sold them this service. Using tie-ins with current events has another benefit that should not be overlooked: fresh reasons to communicate with your clients.

Speaking of communicating with your clients, Marketing Example #2 is a promotion I received from one of the gyms a checklist of things you should do to protect your IT investments from natural disasters. I don’t know the “Hunker Down” t-shirt being sold on www.cafepress.com/hunkerdown where I teach aerobics. This is a perfect example of a GREAT marketing idea gone horribly wrong and is worthy exact number of leads or sales it generated for them but it is a smart marketing strategy and I’m sure it turned up a number of new opportunities.

Now to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you seek ways to benefit from someone else’s misery. The hurricanes in Florida were absolutely horrible and I am not making light of the disaster suffered by thousands of Florida residents.

However, what I am saying is that the top- of-mind consciousness that was generated from these hurricanes presented a perfect opportunity for all of you to promote some type of disaster recovery preparedness or a data and network protection maintenance plan WHICH IS A GOOD THING for the customers you service. In my opinion, if you didn’t use this as an opportunity to of study and comment on several key marketing issues.

Let me begin…

First, I’ve been teaching at this gym for over 4 years. At one point I was teaching a class at this gym every night of the week and easily had 35-45 regulars that showed up every night.

Now if you know anything about gyms and the way they operate, you would know that the aerobics instructors have more interaction and influence over the members than ANY OTHER person in the gym. The only other people with similar influence are the personal trainers but they reach a much smaller segment of the membership. Case in point, about a year ago one of the more popular instructors decided to leave Gold’s Gym to teach at World’s due to a conflict with the gym owner. I know of at least 10-

12 customers that immediately canceled their membership to follow this instructor, and that doesn’t even take into consideration their friends, coworkers, and family members that also canceled their membership and left with them.

The point I want to make here is this: the idea of getting the instructors to recruit new members is an excellent idea that should have been instituted YEARS ago; however, this is the FIRST TIME I’ve ever received any type of promotion where they are attempting to get the instructors involved with member recruitment. This is mistake number one – and it’s not even the biggest.

Mistake number 2 (and it’s a big one) is that it is positioned as an “employee appreciation” discount card implying that they are rewarding me in some way by allowing me to sell my “friends and loved ones” a gym membership. Plus, they insult my intelligence because it’s not even the best membership deal they have going. I know for a fact that they are currently promoting $0 down and $23 per month to the other members. This immediately discredits the validity of the “VIP Membership Discount” they are offering.

Again, using a “VIP” special promotion is a great idea. I used VIP promotion codes for product marketing, teleseminar, and lead generation with a lot of success. You could offer your own customers’ referrals a VIP discount because they are being referred by one of your valued customers. Just make sure you are offering something of REAL value or your clients will smell a rat.

But the real big kicker here is that I have taught at that gym for 4 years and never got so much as a lousy Christmas card. If this is the way they want to “reward me for my hard work and dedication to the Gold’s Gym Family”, then I’d hate to see what they would do if they didn’t appreciate my efforts.

This brings me to the single most important lesson in this whole story:

The reason that this mailing is a failure is NOT because of the strategy used. This campaign backfired because they attempted to get me to refer my friends and family when they have not earned the right to ask in the first place.

In truth, attempting to get the instructors involved with member recruitment is sheer genius when you consider not only the influence we have over our students, but also the fact that we have that influence over gym members from competing gyms (I don’t know of one instructor that doesn’t teach at multiple clubs). Heck, simply offering an employee appreciation discount card to attract new members is an excellent idea and I applaud the strategy.

But this mailing completely missed the mark and ultimately HURT my relationship with them by insulting my intelligence. Did they think I wouldn’t notice this was an obvious sales pitch pathetically positioned as some kind of reward for my hard work? The question on my mind (and by the way, this is the question on ALL of your clients’ and prospects’ mind) is:

What’s In It For Me? Give me one good reason why I should refer someone to your gym? If they wanted to give me a real incentive, why not offer me a commission or a gift for every referral I send in? Reward aside, I would have been more likely to give out these referral cards if they simply told the truth: we’re trying to get more members and would like your help.

A few important lessons to take from this… Lesson 1: Referrals are not given; they are earned. A good question you should ask yourself is: Are you doing everything you possibly can to create loyalty with your clients and earn their referrals?

As I’ve demonstrated with my story, if you don’t EARN the referrals, asking for them won’t make a hill of bean difference and you might actually end up INSULTING your clients. Also, if you have technicians working for you and they leave, are your clients going to follow them or stay loyal to you? If you haven’t taken the time to develop a relationship with them, they are as good as gone. Had the gym been catering better to their customers, an instructor leaving would not justify canceling a membership.

Over the last month, what have you done to: A. Provide extra VALUE to your customers? B. Make your customers more LOYAL?

C. EDUCATE your customers as to the value or extra service you provide? Note: you have to educate your clients to little “favors” you afford them or there’s a good chance your extra efforts ” or those extra hours you didn’t bill – will go unappreciated or unnoticed.

D. Simply communicate with your customers? I am happy to report that the majority of my Members are doing a great job of providing above-average services to their customers. However, I’m not so sure that they are doing a good job of communicating that value to their clients.

Quick note on using appreciation to induce client loyalty: As business owners and marketers, we should always remember that most people are walking around starved for appreciation and respect and will handsomely reward anyone who gives it to them.

This means you have a perfect opportunity to fuel referrals and word of mouth marketing simply by sending your clients a quick thank you note or some other small token of appreciation.

However, let it go on the record that I certainly don’t believe you need to grovel at the feet of your customers. If left unchecked, there are customers that will abuse you, control you, and try to take advantage of you every chance they get in the name of “appreciation”. One of the advantages we have as business owners is that we get to chose WHO we do business with; if your clients aren’t worthy of a little appreciation, they should have been cut loose a long time ago.

But I digress…

Lesson 2: If you have technicians servicing clients, keep in mind that THEY are the face of your company and quite often have more influence over the customer than you. ASSUMING (and this is a big assumption that should be validated) that they are doing a good job of keeping the customer happy, are you fully leveraging that relationship into additional sales and referrals?

If the answer is no or you’re not sure, let me give you a simple strategy you can start using today.

Marketing Example #3 is a one-page client feedback form that is designed to extract testimonials from your clients. Simply hand it to your client the next time you visit their office and ask them to do you a favor by filling it in. Tell them you’ll collect it on your way out the door.

If you have technicians, give them the forms and offer a $500 cash bonus to the technician that brings in the most completed client feedback forms in the next month. I know of several restaurants that pay their wait staff $1—$2 for every completed comment card collected.

You can do the same with referrals. Create a simple referral request form similar to the client feedback form and ask your clients to take a minute to fill it out while your conducting an on-site visit. Just make sure they know you will be collecting it before you leave. This will prevent it from sitting on their desk until it gets lost or thrown out.

Lesson 3: One of the biggest factors contributing to the response of any marketing campaign is the relationship you have with the list or recipient of the message. That’s why one reseller can use a referral gathering promotion and get stellar results while someone else, using the exact same promotion, gets a big, fat zero. Think about this for a minute…

If your son or daughter mailed a fund raising letter for their school to their grandparents or their favorite Aunt and Uncle, you can almost guarantee they would secure a donation regardless of how awful the mailing was.

However, that same letter mailed to a group of strangers suddenly becomes bin liner. The difference? Simply the relationship. That’s why I’m so adamant about communicating frequently with your prospects and customers via a newsletter or some other type of monthly promotion. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” goes double when you are marketing to clients, yet it always amazes me how so many companies completely neglect sending any type of communication to their clients and prospects.

Going back to the promotion from the gym, I can guarantee you it would have had a greater impact if they had been regularly sending me employee perks, thank you cards, or even an employee newsletter every month. Instead, this letter came across to me as an out-of-the-blue booty call from some desperate loser I barely knew. LOL. The sad part is, this is a VERY good promotion that you can model and use in your own business. The only reason it would fail is if you didn’t have a good relationship with the list, or if you didn’t give your customers a good enough reason to refer their colleagues.